A City to Long For

by The Cowl Editor on October 15, 2020


woman on an airplane looking into the sky; scene shifts to a rural Central American town storefront
Graphic design by Elizabeth McGinn ’21 and photos courtesy of pexels.com

by Mariela Flores ’23

There is a distinct smell of freshly made sweet bread that clings to the air. All of the colors in the world seem to be culminating here, in a faraway land I feel more at home in than home. My Spanish is less impressive here than it is amongst my monolingual peers, yet, my bones ache for the humidity-lacking heat that turns my paler skin a golden brown, reminding me of the Mayan blood that courses through my veins.  

Mi Guate linda, I dream of her and it’s like a song.  

I think of my abuelita, how she walks every morning to the market despite her failing feet. She carries her stories in each callous and as she walks, I can hear the thump, thump, thump, every step landing on brick roads that are ours.  

I long for Navidad and the fireworks that lined the streets, celebrating the birth of Jesus and the promise of a new and better year. The dirt from the roads tucks itself into my fingernails, desperate for me to take part of it with me, I claw back at the earth as I, too, am desperate.  

My mother glows here in an eerily familiar way. She comes back as a stranger who knows their secrets well. I can see how the tension rooted on her shoulders dissipates the moment she steps on her motherland. She relaxes here in a way she cannot back home; in a place where we are other, here we are familia.  

Mi Guate linda, I dream of her and it’s like a song.  

A soft marimba playing in the distance on a lively night. The stars displayed on a cloudless sky hum along to the beat. I dance, hoping to be a part of something so beautiful, planting my rhythm into the soil that sprouted my mother. I hope to leave behind seeds of myself that will bloom here one day.  

I am cold on the plane ride home, unaware of the next time I will see mi familia. The next time I will allow myself to be excited about a holiday I can never afford.  

The promise of a soundless Christmas dares to make me cry. I wonder and I ache about when I will get to see mi Guate linda again.  

It has been seven years and the ache is dull now, but my fears are stronger as I am beginning to forget her and the words to her song.