June 30, 1978
Even if she didn’t want to watch the game with me, there is no way she could escape the fanfare that has permeated this country in the past week. Every day I go to the coffee shop, someone is excitedly talking about the Netherlands’ defeat. Even if she didn’t watch the game, there is no way you can avoid joining this conversation.
This picture is everywhere. It’s the main thing people talk about, the only thing people talk about. It’s the only thing worth talking about, because it’s the only thing not wrought with sadness, secrecy, and death. For once, we have won. And yet, I just feel like I’ve lost again.
Day 7. This is the seventh day since I last heard from Malena. Everyday I replay our interaction in my head and try to figure out at which point something went wrong. Was it the way I introduced myself? Was it just the fact that I introduced myself? Was I too forward, to assertive? Was I supposed to go to her school to look for her the next day? Or maybe she just wasn’t interested? One million questions go through my head each day as I try to figure out where Malena has gone, each troubling. There is a new question I’ve been pondering, however, one that I’ve found harder to grapple with; What did Malena do wrong? Why did they take her? I do not want to think about it like this, but I’ve replayed our conversation last week over and over again, and this is all I seem to come up with. Maybe it wasn’t me. Maybe it wasn’t anything I said or did or didn’t do. Maybe I should have had my eyes open to the inevitable, losing someone a loved one to the government. Wait. I don’t love Malena. I can’t; I don’t know her. But do I? Ayyyy! Whether I love her or not, she is gone. She has been taken. I know it. Taken just like mi mama.
Even though I want to celebrate this victory, be happy about the money I’m going to collect from betting on this game, and enjoy this particular moment of pride and Agentididad, I can’t. I can’t escape the image of pain and violence in my brain. I can’t escape the image of mi Malena, somewhere suffering for what she’s done.
It is images like the one above that I turn to when I read the newspaper. Blood. Sweat. Force. Resistance. This is what winning is really about: pain. Maybe that’s the best way to describe how I’m feeling right now. I’ve lost another woman in my life, lost a potential for love, in exchange for pride in my homeland… I guess Malena was a sacrifice then. I should be used to that by now.