It’s Independence Day, and everything is frozen in Rancagua. I can’t remember an Independence Day where we didn’t have an asado at home, where Mamá, Amalia, and I run around the house taking care of los abuelos, tíos, primos, sobrinos, y nietos and Papá spends all day on the couch, smoking cigars and laughing with Jorge. Mamá wanted to have an asado, to pretend like everything is okay, but Papá hasn’t spoken to anyone since last week, aside from a few words to Jorge. I think Mamá only stopped muttering about still having the asado because she wants to keep abuelita from seeing Papá in this state.
Early last summer Jorge would brag about how he would soon be the only one at home and kept reminding me how excited he was for me to leave at the beginning of March. I don’t think any of us thought we would all be home this spring. In the never-ending summer before I was meant to join Amalia in Santiago, the house was palpably tense. Two days before I was supposed to leave, Mamá started crying during once. We sat in silence until Papá finally said “Lore, no es seguro en Santiago al tiro. Por ahora, vas a quedarte acá y continuar tu educación en Rancagua”. …………..LKASJDFOIASJDFLAKSDFJAL……….I was so furious I couldn’t say a word. For YEARS all I had heard from them is how Amalia, Jorge, and I needed to become educated in Santiago. It was so obvious to Mamá and Papá that they never even said why. I always told Ignacia and Lucia that I would only go so I could live with Amalia again…that is until I realized lo obvio about why I should work every day to attend La Chile. Santiago es Chile. Nothing important happens in Rancagua. Nothing important even happens in Conce! I don’t want to be a teacher like Mamá, or a miner like Papá; and it’s been shoved down my throat on any possible occasion that I need to go to Santiago for university “para superarnos” as Mamá always says. I can’t believe after doing so well on la Prueba that I gained entrance into La Chile, Mamá and Papá would take it away from me. How can Papá force me to stay in fucking Rancagua after the miles of fucking conversations we had about Sergio Larraín and his niños del Mapocho, about how photography will show the world what Chilito and our democratic road to socialismo is about, about any of it?!? It felt cruel to take it all away before it even began.
I took a break from journaling as a personal protest against Mamá and Papá. Until today. Today I finally heard from Ignacia. In her malice, Amalia kept whispering to me that Pinochet must have personally killed Ignacia and her whole family. I would ignore her because I know she’s still upset that Mamá and Papá brought her home from Santiago a few weeks ago. I know it’s not about me. She only talks about Ignacia and her family like that because she’s worried about her friends in Santiago and feels like absolute shit that she’s not there with them. She told me they were in lockdown and has only heard from them once since….that day. She told me I wouldn’t understand because I have been here in Rancagua and I couldn’t get it. She talks about the past few years in Santiago in such paradoxical ways…I think SHE doesn’t get it. I don’t think anyone gets it.
When Mamá handed me the phone and I heard Ignacia say “Lore, ¿cómo estai?”, I could not keep it together. We stayed on the phone crying until she became composed enough to tell me she was in Alemania. I listened silently as she explained how her papá was working to get her whole family out of the country throughout August, but she couldn’t tell Lucia or me. Her papá had told her they would leave 1 September for Berlín so she could say goodbye to us, but it was a trick and they actually left the day before. She asked about Rancagua and Lucia, but there was not much to say. I tell her everything seems like a shell of what it was, and Mamá shushes me from the other room. I then told Ignacia that I keep getting shushed by Mamá and Papá so I guess that says more about Chile than anything else. Before we hung up she asked me, “¿Se suicidó o fue matado?” and I tell her that no one knows, but I don’t say anything more because I’m worried about being shushed again.