the brighter sun
By Dalya Cordeiro
This piece unintentionally secured itself a special place in my heart. It reflects my feelings, my aspirations, and my hope that this new country will allow me to embrace my new place in history.
Where you’re from, the summers are incandescent. They’re scorching sun on blazing sidewalk, and they’re light glistening off colorful cars. They’re skin baking in the heat and hair plastered to forehead and sweat high on your brows. They’re condensating water bottles against your face. They’re the hiss of a new can of soda and the gentle clinking of ice. The summers are women in cangas and men in havaianas and children precariously clutching onto ice cream cones, licking sticky fingers and smiling sticky smiles.
Where you’re from, the winters are cutting. They’re frigid winds and icy rain and hailstorms. They’re hand-knitted scarves and woolen tights and snug sweaters. They’re dark hardwood and cold granite and comfy bedspreads. They’re stiff fingers and red noses and chattering teeth. The winters are brief conversations and distant acknowledgments—half-hearted pleasantries before everyone scurries back to their rooms, where it’s nice and warm and safe.
Where you’re from, fall and spring are tantamount. They’re the strange parts, the spaces in between, where everything’s blurring together and every day feels as dispiriting as the last. They’re waiting rooms, or limbo, or purgatory. The flowery ipê trees lining the streets are either blooming or sagging, but regardless, there are petals carpeting the sidewalks and a subtle breeze in the air. Feels less like a season and more like a well of untapped potential and anticipatory anxiety. Feels like something should be happening, but isn’t.
Where you’re from, the people are friendly. They’re kind and approachable and genial, but always busy, and always with somewhere to go. They’re preoccupied yet disposed, generous with directions and advice and witty quips at everyone’s expense, especially their own. Their banter’s always rich with laughter, even if only to hold back tears.
You miss it, sometimes—that feeling of “forever.” That stomach-churning, goosebump-raising feeling of permanence that comes with comfort and, ultimately, complacency. You hate change—but you hate forever even more.
Things are different, now.
You don’t really know when your life became a whirlwind, but it suddenly feels like there’s so much more to worry about than there’d ever been. You suffer overwhelming feelings of displacement, like you’d been uprooted and hastily planted into new soil before you could wither away entirely. The soil feels the same and looks the same—rife with noisy urban life, with forgettable faces, with your mother’s grounding presence—but now you’re perpetually wondering when you’re going to be ripped from it and deposited someplace else.
That’s how you live, now. You wonder and wonder and wonder, but you don’t hope too much and don’t wish too hard. Wishes have no business here. This soil caters to doers, not dreamers. You try very hard to be the former, and yet all your effort just feels like more dreaming—useless and irrelevant.
At certain points, you weigh trying against giving up, and it’s rarely more appealing. It just becomes a matter of pride now, perhaps even resignation. I didn’t ask for any of this, but now here I am so I’ll make the best of it, come out of it all just good enough to make the naysayers eat their words. That oughta make everything worth it. You cling onto that as hard as you can, because some days it’s the only thing that still feels solid—still feels true. The only thing worth really trying for.
That’s what you do, now.
You wonder, you try, you cling, and at all times, you stop yourself from hoping and dreaming and wishing. You savor the sunlight and endure the rain and don’t thread roots into foreign soil.
If any petals droop, well. That’s no one’s business but your own.
Dalya Cordeiro is a quick-witted, curious young woman living in Queens, NY with her mother. She is creative, kind and quick to make you smile. Dalya will be starting college in the fall and is eager to study political science, which is a testament to her deep sense of integrity and admirable moral code. Dalya lives to serve others, and her infectious spirit will undoubtedly continue to change this world for the better.