1. I made a list of reasons why I want mountains tattooed on my back from the funeral pew. After the 42nd Hail Mary, my cousin puked silently into his hands (the aftermath of last night’s bonfire). Our great aunts passed tissues. Pat his back. Condolences in quick wet breaths, Dios ben di ga. The casket was brown like us. It was filled to the brim with my grandfather. The hat that he gave me was too small now.
2. We hadn’t all been together in a decade. Aunt Rosie still not talking to Uncle Peter (who is not Peter anymore but Sofia (divorced Sarah)). Sarah came but only for the wake Aunt Theresa still talks to no one. Great Uncle Poncho thought he got someone pregnant (20 years younger) but it was a fake. Mom still mad at Rocky. Rocky on girlfriend #9. They still can’t look Sofia in the eyes. Amanda dropped out. Daniel did jail time. Celina wears make-up now (and is engaged, we think). Tiffany is gay and is not Tiffany anymore (she’s Remedios). I talk to her because we’re both pallbearers. We haven’t spoken since she got kicked out and had to live in our house on the floor. Antonio says he’ll never marry Camille (shortly after his dad became His Sofia), but they love each other, and it is very beautiful. Now we’re names on a prayer card.
3. On our way to Antonito (population: 600) our car swerved twice then did a 360 into a snow bank and stuck there for three hours, I felt a throbbing peace surrounded by mountains. Near-death wrapped my head like a balaclava, and I breathed my own breath for a while before I swore I’d never smoke again. We never told grandma. I finished my book with my toes on the heater and sexted my boyfriend who no one knew about.
5. The flowers were yellow cream (same as the weddings). While all of the cousins were in the kitchen making guacamole Amanda collapsed into my arms, and I dropped the pit into the bowl remembering I’d promised to never lose touch, but we hadn’t written a letter in two years. (She’d moved to Austin.) We thought the mashing could distract us from grandpa and also everything, but it didn’t maybe because this was the last time we’d see each other until
the next time.
8. Uncle Pete—Sofia had the cousins over for brunch the morning after because his brothers and sisters wouldn’t come. (Because she lives in a bunkhouse with no water or electricity or toilet.) (And because she is she.) Poached eggs and fig jam and very fresh sausage. No one knows I don’t eat meat, but everyone knows I sleep with men. Halfway through making cowboy coffee, she stopped to say something like, “Listen kids listen. These things are hard. Your grandfather once said to me ‘There’s nothing that could make me love you any less,’ and it’s true there’s nothing he loved more than me and you and this ranch.” I always tell people it’s a farm because that’s more romantic, but they’re broke, so it’s not a farm anymore. Sofia stopped to adjust an eyelash, and we were quiet as tin cans on a fence. I wish I could remember what she said better. “When I am gone and everyone else is gone this land is yours, and you have to keep it. We’ve saved it for you, and your children’s children because it comes from The Love Of Thousands before us.” I think about this a lot now that I live in New York. Now that I know I wouldn’t move to this farm if my life depended on it.
9. Back to the bonfire. Forgiveness was given over whiskey and peanut butter s’mores. We plucked sad songs and howled at the three-quarter moon. I watched my sister get drunk and stoned for the first time, and we pretended with each other that we weren’t there. Daniel was telling us about jail. He said that if nothing makes sense then the ranch makes sense. (And it does, I guess.) Camille got so drunk she cried (and that was the only time the whole time Antonio cried) and almost fell in the fire, and we laughed it off, and later I helped Amanda throw up behind the truck, and it was the tenderest moment I shared with anyone that week, and that made even more sense I think.
10. And driving home I realized this was the first time in a long time I’d thought about anything that wasn’t myself so it’s good sometimes to feel much smaller because of the things that are not so small. Because of the place ascending lines meet at a peak.