On display tables, the decapitated hands of mannequins lay in piles, their fake nails gleaming in the sun.
“Can I take a picture?” I asked the woman behind the table.
“No,” she said, “I don’t want you to steal my nail designs.”
I let out a wild hiccup-like laugh and said, “I can promise you that I am not going to steal your nail designs.”
I stuck out my short, blunt nails, cut to the chase and polishless, as if in proof. I looked at the three-inch fake nails covered in rhinestones, painted in cheetah’s spots, with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with Betty Boop’s face — and I wondered how I would zip my pants, eat my “vitamina T” (tacos, tortas, tamales, and tlacoyos), make a telephone call, or play soccer with those nails. The woman behind the table seemed relieved at the sad sight of my nails, and she smiled and motioned for me to go ahead and take a photo.
* * *His absence haunted me. When he left, I felt I had lost all my stories — of him, of us, of me.
* * *When I told him stories about Mexico City, about La Merced, I wanted to capture the way I experienced the chaos, the way I was haunted by the people, and the way they wove themselves into my imagination and my life. There was no single, clean narrative to offer up. In a world that demanded perfection, that asked for machines and mathematical precision and ironed-down eyebrows and perfectly manicured nails, my voice had no place. Truth had a value, but I was sullying it with my memory, with my failure to write down every word, to record every conversation.
Partam had witnessed the life-blood of our love. Partam was there when he stood barefoot before me and read his vows: “I cannot love in half measures: a roof but no walls, lust but no love, spring but no fall, Christmas but no Easter, an obvious God, winners without losers, the Yankees without the Red Sox. I cannot love in half measures. Half measures, life half weather, either scorches or floods.”
I remember thinking that his vows were more beautiful than mine, that they carried more meaning. Partam was there when I replied, “You stand before me, the calm in the center of my storm, bringing me wildflowers from the highways of every state you pass through. I want to grow old and wrinkly with you. To love you as you are, this is my vow to you.”
In his absence, I did not know how to reconfigure myself. All the music I had was actually his. Did I like that music, or did I like it because I loved him? I didn't know what was of me and what was of him.Alice Driver - There is No One Story of Love Lost
A beautiful piece on Mexico, love, and the lives we lead.