As soon as we passed Buena Park, the freeway grew larger, the lines wider, the cars bigger, the palm trees taller, and the lights sped away with a more arrogant glare.
Irvine, California was only a few miles farther.
Our new home.
The U-Haul stopped in front of the house that we had chosen with so much care and attention. The four Spanish men jumped out of the truck and started unpacking the boxes, while we stayed in the car, somehow moved, even overwhelmed. We looked at each other, like saying, let’s go! Let’s start a new life!
The sky was filled with innumerable stars and planets we didn’t know the name. The air was hot and our bodies stank like an expensive Camembert. But it didn’t matter, at least not at that moment.
Soon enough, a couple showed up at our new door. They smiled and bowed their head. They spoke with heavy accent that sounded sweet and amicable. We took a break for a moment and let them tell us the story of the little cul-de-sac and their children who had already left them to go to university.
We listened with envy.
One day, we were going to greet others, hopefully.
The men finished the boxes and kept asking for the place of the things. Sometimes it was hard to say anything. Sometimes we had no idea about the place of belonging of objects.
“We’ll figure it out tomorrow,” Fa told me.
We had already thrown away so many boxes and memories. We had already destroyed many layers of our past entangled life. After everything so awful that happened. After all that darkness and loss, we were ready to make up for their hollow spot in our brains, ready to make new episodic, autobiographical, and implicit memories, even new semantic ones since in this new life of ours, everything was going to be different, even the words and their meanings. “Sure,” I replied.
Once the men left, and once the neighbors went back to their home, and once the lights in our new family room overshadowed the phantom of the sparkling unknown planets, and once all the boxes found their room to settle, we started to fall asleep without pause or contemplation, drafting with ease from one world to another, oscillating between fatigue and contentment, pain and serenity.
The next day, our bodies still ached.