At the neighbors’ house, a sheet is draped over the window frame in lieu of glass. A dense constellation of tiny holes in the tin roof pierces the dimness inside with needles of bright afternoon light. The floor is packed dirt.
There’s a huge, creepy Christ Child doll in a white nightgown balanced on a corner shelf, and on the back wall, an uneven line of baby photos. (A long line—Doña Blanca has six kids. She can’t be much older than I am, and you can see that she was once a pretty young woman, but she looks about fifty, and worn out; her husband looks about twenty and works when he feels like it).
The youngest of the six, Edwin and Jesus and Darian, are jumping on their bed and laughing; Isaias is laughing and trying to jump, he’s almost got it figured out. I wonder how long it will take before he figures out the differences between this house and ours, and what he'll make of them.
The first time the kids came over to our house, they looked around wide-eyed, and Edwin said, “Your house is really nice, and you have EVERYTHING.” We don’t have a couch, my desk is a piece of sheetrock atop some wooden fruit crates, our floor is brick over sand, our kitchen table and chairs are of the hideous plastic variety (complete with beer logos), there’s no running water in the kitchen, no hot water anywhere unless you heat it one the stove. And so on. Mostly, I'm able to keep it in perspective.
Ibis had a job offer this week. Had he accepted it, he’d be making three times what he’s making now. But we’d never see him: six days a week, he would be in a town four hours away. He didn’t take it. We’ll survive with makeshift furniture, together.
My teaching job ends next week, until August. June and July will be tricky—but we’ll have the garden, and the chickens. There’ll be omelets, and salads, and fresh salsa. If it comes down to it, we can eat the rooster. (God, it feels wonderfully Laura Ingalls Wilder to say that: “Don’t worry, Pa. There’re the chickens,” she said stoutly. “By Jove, you’re right, Half Pint. And the garden!”)
There’ll be enough left over to invite Jesus and Edwin and Dari for lunch now and then.
We have everything.