Hypnopompic: Proceeding Consciousness
My 6o-year-old dad lives with his parents next door to the home he raised me in. The tiny South Texas cottage he painted pink, thinking he chose beige. The one with uneven cuts of vinyl flooring he installed himself, the one my mom sold after their divorce to help pay their shared debt, leaving only my siblings and me to bind them now. His parents moved next door when I was 7, a year after we moved in. It felt like we grew up in one large house when dad installed a gate on the shared fence. It enabled us to run seamlessly from one to the other, buttered tortillas in hand, warm from Abuelita's kitchen. I’m visiting Texas from Pennsylvania, where I live now. I’m sitting on my grandmother's floral couch across from him. “How are you, dad?” We sit cordially in the living room, my Abuelita making lunch nearby. He doesn’t answer me right away. His face veers out the living room window, the same view from our old living room window. He doesn't answer the question simply, and in truth doing so, giving me a simple answer, is the more unlikely scenario. In another life, my dad is a philosopher, a thinker, a man celebrated for his depth. In another life, his Mexican culture doesn’t constantly define manhood in opposition to him. In another life, my father doesn’t need to drink to laugh. “When you were kids, I took afternoon naps on our living room couch…” The truth is he slept on our living room couch even at night. He continues, “every afternoon, like clockwork, I’d wake up to the sound of a white-winged dove. That’s when I knew it was time to pick you guys up from school.” He’s remembering a feeling from 10 years ago. A stay-at-home dad, he picked us up from school every day in a blue Dodge minivan. I knew that exact bird call because, when I moved to Pennsylvania, I stopped hearing the distinct coo, a sound from a dream, very similar to an owl. When I return south, they remind me I’m home. I don’t say anything because he only needs me to imagine with him. I stare at him while he stares out the window at our old cul-de-sac. He continues, “the other day I took an afternoon nap here,” he pats the hunter-green couch he’s sitting on, “I woke up the same way, I heard the white-winged dove outside…” his voice is starting to crack and tears mount in both our eyes, “For a second I forgot where I was. I hesitated thinking I might be late to pick you guys up.” He cried when he told me he cried, the moment his brain straightened out the truth.
Aubrey Lozano-Cofield recently received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. She’s been published in NPR’s Worth Repeating, Southern Review of Books, The Motley Few, and she has a piece forthcoming in LatinX Literary Magazine. She’s currently working on a memoir that pushes structural boundaries and is always looking for an intriguing true story.
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