Teaching my three children Spanish as they were growing up, I would not have predicted that the language would add so much to their relationship with each other.
My daughters, Kate and Maggie, spent this summer together in Lima, Peru. Kate lives there, working as the Program Coordinator for Nexos Voluntarios. Maggie chose to spend the summer with her sister, working as an intern. I consider this somewhat of a sacrifice, because summer here corresponds to winter in Peru.
This is a post that Maggie wrote about Lima and her sister. She is a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and you can read more of her writing on her blog As I Lay Reading.
I never thought I would say it, but I miss the fog-dense Lima air, moist with car exhaust, heavier than the backpack on my shoulders, pacifying in its consistency. I miss the walks back and forth between my sister’s house and my apartment, when the density of the climate pressed on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. After the first month or so, when the streets had become familiar, I began to read while I walked, weaving through the crowds in Plaza Kennedy, enthralled in the twisted family dynamics of Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad. And although the book was set in Columbia, I never left Lima–the climate kept me grounded; the air held me in place. Instead, I moved the Buendía family to Peru and shrouded their suffering in the gray ocean fog of Lima. As I walked through the streets toward my sister’s house, cold with moisture that never materialized, I danced along the line of dual existence that literature alone can offer.
And now, in the crisp October air of Minnesota, I miss the weight of Lima’s winters and the texture of books damp with fog. This unlikely nostalgia is just the symptom of a deeper longing: I miss the moment when my sister would open the door for me, her smile shattering the unceasing gloom, the warmth of her hug scolding away the weather.