Beneath the Avocado Tree

by Andrew Valdovinos

Photo by: Andrew Valdovinos

To The People I Miss,

Home was the most succulent of paradoxes. Our mutual silence roamed throughout the house and deafened my incoherent thoughts. In a home full of people, I isolated myself. There was an inherent distinction between you and I, a noticeable difference that many loved to point out. In hindsight, when I think about our time within the walls of our duplex, pain wrapped its illustrious warmth around the silence that created us; but that summer was different.

Every morning, during summer break, our days would be spent at Abuelitas. There was nothing particularly exciting about our visits. We would arrive, head to her room while she watched her shows in the room next to hers, while time vanished like a shadow in the night. I remember sedating my mind with video games and tv shows to evaporate the pain of existing. In that time between shows and gaming, I remember peeping outside the window and seeing the shadows of trees begin to shift. We had spent all day inside — time became evasive and by the time we realized what the clock showed us, it was time to leave.

In reflecting on that time, I recall pain knowing you the most. The way you always needed to escape from the confines of home. I remember the color difference between your shoulder and your arm– like pain, the sun knew you too. The world scared me. The ridicule at school for my existence being a burden, indifference created a fear of unacceptance that was unshakeable — it seems as though that was a character trait embedded into our dna. We were opposing forces existing together.

But I remember that summer under the avocado tree — it was a time where I remember we existed outside our signifiers of othering. Where the pain drifted away with the cold gust that swept under the tree and brushed the sweat on our backs, leaving a cooling sensation that gave us goosebumps. Where the tree, with all its might, tried to shield us from the sun, but the leaves left too large of gaps to shield us wholly, and the columed light made its way through and kissed our skin in warm delight. That summer was a mental state of isolation, life became bearable beneath that tree. The shade offered solace from the abrasive heat but those pockets of sunlight kept us tethered to the forces arounds us, it brought us to reality. The breeze brushed by our bodies in a wave of comfort, allowing us to exhale.

I say all of that to say, in a pocket of remembrance, love persevered. In a moment of stillness, a memory so mundane in experience can be profound in hindsight. Life, then, was unfair, unkind, and unshakable; Its abrasiveness was likened to the suns radiating heat, beating on us unapologetically, it owned us. Within the umbrella of green leaves and shadowy valor, in glorious calm blunder, we existed.


in Loving Remembrance