Sunday, August 5, 2012


One of the things I was looking forward to when I was told we'd be coming to Ecuador was meeting my baby cousin, who's two years old by now. My aunt, his mother, went to live in the United States for ten years (far away from my family) before missing her family here too much and coming back (so the exact opposite that my mother and father did). She had my cousin, Martin, after a complicated pregnancy and they live in the coastal side of the country, sometimes coming to visit my grandparents to the colder side. They arranged to come to my grandparent's house so they could stay a few days with us, and so I got to meet him the second I walked into the house.

This might get a little gushy--and I understand it might annoy some people who have no maternal/paternal instincts whatsoever, but he is not just adorable. He's smart, he's funny, he's very active, and he's extremely curious. He's not particularly an angel--he doesn't understand yet that he has to do certain things gently, so he uses all his strength to get his mom to pay attention to him and so he pulls at her earrings or her hair. He hasn't done that to me yet, but I guess it's because I'm constantly giving him attention, so he probably feels like he doesn't have to. (Plus, he's obviously more desperate for his mom's attention than for mine, and since she's been very tired lately, she hasn't really been playing with him). He's also a bit stubborn when it comes to food, and if he doesn't like something, he just lets the food hang from his lips till someone takes it or gravity sends it down.

Again, I'm sorry if this gets to be too much, but I absolutely adore how he acts. He's always telling me to go see things with him, and he always wants me to hold his hand when he's climbing up the stairs. He only eats when I'm watching him, he picks up flowers to show me, and when he wakes up in the morning, after his mom calms him down and either feeds him or cleans him, he asks for me. Right now, he's downstairs asking where I am, so I'm probably gonna run and continue this when I come back.

Although he understands Spanish very well, and knows a few English words, he doesn't talk very much. I used to talk a lot when I was his age, but I think I read somewhere boys on average talk less than girls. He's not very loud--he only shouts if someone else shouts--so he just kind of whispers words like "Pelota?" when he wants to play and can't find the ball. When we were at a restaurant, he was so fascinated by the three men that came in playing music for some coins, all he did was watch them and he kept holding my hand. In fact, he always has this curious expression, like we were playing with my phone and I showed him some pictures I took of him. It was almost like he was analyzing them, and when I asked him who it was, he smiled and said "Martin". If he looks at himself through the mirror, he doesn't react, but if he sees himself in my computer or my phone, he's just completely in awe.

I think a few days ago he saw one of his uncles playing Modern Warfare on the PS3 so he asked me to play with him yesterday. My aunt was worried that it'd be violent, but there were just a few games, and the only ones I really wouldn't play with him were God of War 3 and the current Mortal Kombat (granted the first Mortal Kombat was my first video game, but it was a lot more cartoonish back then, plus I was five/six not two), so we played Call of Duty, and he laughed every time we died, which was a lot because we accidentally picked the highest difficulty. His hands were too small for the controller, and he wasn't really coordinated. In CoD all he wanted to do was see the guns, and he'd tell me which one he liked more and just shoot at a wall until I tickled him when we got shot and he just let go of the controller and started laughing.

I've found that I'm not as grossed out as I thought I would be with a toddler. He's been having an allergic reaction lately so he coughs everywhere, even when he's eating, and always has snot running down his nose. In fact, if he does he looks at me and says, "Moco, moco," so I can take him to a bathroom and blow his nose. Sometimes I won't have anything to clean him with, so I'll just use my hands so he's not uncomfortable. Yesterday I helped my aunt clean his diaper at the mall. The smell was utterly horrendous, but because my aunt sings to him while she's changing his diaper, he was singing with her and laughing. There was the smell of shit in that entire bloody bathroom, but he's just so joyful that I started singing with him while helping my aunt clean him up.

I guess it hit me yesterday that this is the first and last time I'm ever going to see him. Tomorrow I'm going back to the capital city to my old home where I'm going to spend the rest of my time there (just a few more days before heading back to the United States). We'll go there so I can give my aunt my brother's baby clothes and some toys for Martin, and then they gotta go back to their own city. And I won't see him again. I don't have enough money to come every year, and either way, the city isn't exactly safe. It's beautiful in some ways--the mountains and cascades and roads look like painted pictures--and it's ugly in others--people throw all kinds of shit out of bus windows, apparently I can't even eat the street food because it might have some dog meat in there, and the crime is more than high.

I was laying in bed yesterday utterly heartbroken that I wasn't going to see him. He's not going to remember me at all, and even if I manage to get enough money to return again for a vacation, it'll be years. And even if it was every year, he'd be growing so quickly and changing so much, he wouldn't remember me. When I was little and my dad was here in the U.S, he would call and chat with us everyday, and still my little brother was so young that he started to forget about him. My Spanish has been faltering for some time now, and I left this country when I was a little girl, and still I can't communicate now with the people I grew up with. There's no way Martin, who's way younger, is going to be able to become friends with me all over again. He'll be older, and different, and so will I. It makes me almost wish that we could stay in these few days for almost-forever. Like I wish he could be nearly-eternally two, but also continue to grow and discover things while still laughing that adorable laugh of his, and I wish I could stay nearly-eternally sixteen with the energy and patience and want to throw the same ball over the same fence ten thousand times just to hear him laugh and see him run.

Another thing, though I would never admit to my aunt, is that I wish he wouldn't grow up here and instead would go to the U.S. I know people like to shit on America and say it sucks and how it's collapsing and whatever, but sometimes I feel like at least 75% of people saying that are only from America, or some awesomely developed rich country, so they don't really understand the weight of their words. I wish my baby cousin wouldn't have to grow up in a country where a good percentage of the population is below poverty, or where the current president thinks it okay to censor the media.

It's only been a few days, and I feel horrible because I'm really not going to miss a good chunk of my family here because we're just different people. We've changed, and I don't feel obliged to *like* people just because we share a percentage of similar genes. In fact, I really didn't imagine this would happen to me at all, but just thinking about leaving him here and never coming back makes me want to cry all over again.

I don't know if anyone's been through anything similar, but I don't know how to stop feeling so devastated. I really don't want to cry tomorrow when I say goodbye to him, but I don't know if it hurts to imagine him forgetting about me, or thinking he might remember me for the next few days and constantly ask for me, even as my aunt tells him I can't be there.

I'm just...I don't know. I just don't know.

I'll post pictures of Martin when I get my phone back.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.