Susan Meyers’ “Waiting Room,” excerpted below, first appeared in issue 63/64 (Spring/Summer 2005) of the minnesota review. Since then, Meyers received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English from the University of Arizona. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, and she is currently an Assistant Professor in English at Seattle University, where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. Meyers has also published in Calyx, Dogwood, Oregon Humanities Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, Rosebud Literary Magazine, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Gender and Education, and Community Literacy Journal. She is currently working on a historical novel about her family’s circus, which operated during the early part of the twentieth century, as well as an ethnographic monograph about literacy and migration in the U.S./Mexico context. To continue reading “Waiting Room” please visit our online archive, available through Duke University Press.
Carla Ramirez. Here in the waiting room, with a child. An infant, shivering and nodding with the small, uncertain movements of a newborn. Its eyes are large and flat, like round quinientos coins. The hands like little claws. Carla’s baby. Her first? her second or third? How long has she been married? and to whom? Lucky man. But I’m not bitter. Not now. Only, disoriented. Back home in Chile. My country again after fifteen—no, sixteen years. Unsure which streets connect with which. Which lives cross and intersect now. Like Carla and her husband. And their child, here in the clinic, waiting for vaccinations.
It’s strange, but I know it’s all a fluke, the way lives bend and shift like continents—and shift back. To find the old things here and look at them with freshness, but not newness. These are things I’ve seen before: Alemda, la Virgin, la Vega, el Cerro San Cristobal. But they don’t claim me the way they did when I was twelve. The way I’d hoped—just days ago on the plane—they might, when I returned.
And it’s strange, too, seeing all of Carla’s features again in one face: connected. Not coming in and out of focus, the way they did when I was in Germany. First the eyes, then her brow, her chin and lips and cheeks. Soft mejillas flushed pink. It’s almost unnerving, seeing them together again, as though my memory of her were not entirely correct—and I wonder whether it is her.
But of course it is. The same face I’d imagined, writing all those heartfelt, adolescent letters—so many letters! Carla, I will be home soon. Carla, my parents have promised. Mi Carlita, don t forget me. Your friend, here, on the other side of the world.
But my mother never sent those letters. “Better not to think about home, hijo,” she’d warned. “Better to cut things clean. Like slicing through an onion—smooth, even sweeps. Or else the tears will come.”