I have a problem with lingering

I have a problem with lingering

I have a problem with lingering
It has always been hard for me to leave things I love
There’s an open air market in Houston a few blocks away from me on Airline Street
I find myself wanting to linger here, for some reason, leaving it is hard
I usually have the same routine:
Go on a Sunday
curiosear at the fruit, the dried chiles, the artesanías as I linger through each row
buy a box of mangos from Señor Ruiz, originally from Michoacán
find an icy coconut
“Coco! Coco! Cocos Fríos! Vengan por su agua de coco!”
(What can I say, I do what I am told)
watch it get sliced open
So then I drink my coconut water, straw in coconut, plastic bag surrounding coconut, on my way to the
taco stand
order myself a taco al pastor and a sope con pollo to go for my husband
And as I stand there, watching my sope get flipped on the comal, touched by bare hands whose skin
resembles my own, I realize that although I am alone, surrounded by strangers, I somehow feel at home
You see, every Sunday I grew up going with my family to la carnecería, la panadería, el mercado after
church
Being surrounded by sounds of dried hibiscus leaves filling plastic bags and machetes slicing through
fruit reminds me of some of my favorite memories from childhood
my mom’s agua de jamaica
my father slicing a coconut from our palm tree in our backyard
I imagine that seeing the methodical swing, stuck, slice of a coconut
or the slap, slap, grill of a sope is about as comforting to me as a chicken noodle soup is to others
Growing up my brother and I would stand at the local mercado’s fruit stand each Sunday after church,
watching and salivating as a mango was peeled and put on a stick before being drenched in lime and
sprinkled with chile and salt
while my mom ordered carnitas meat from the butcher for dinner
My dad’s self-appointed job was to ceremoniously make the clink clink sound with pinzas for pan dulce
These are memories that still linger, resistant to time and distance away from them
Sounds of families coming together, laughing, yelling, reprimanding
And the noise and chatter that comes from these objects
The noise of jicama crunching or slurping of yukis and mangos, their colors and smells adding to the
clatter of the senses
I linger among the people that sell the fruits
the people that buy them
Strangers with eyes of my mother
hands of my father
teeth-bearing laugh of my brother
among the dozens of rows of fruit and food stands
so that I too can linger with the comforting memories of my family whom I desperately miss
Writing this I realized that perhaps I keep lingering so that I may be suspended in nostalgia and comfort
to imagine that while I wait alone in line for my coconut, my family, their voices and faces, exist among
the sounds, smells, and colors of the open air market

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Martamaria Frappier
Houston, TX