On April 26, 2001, R was handcuffed and in a prison uniform, in a jail in the basement of what was then the Chicago INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services.)
On April 27, 2001, I waited four hours to see R for two minutes through a bank teller-sized window with bullet-proof glass.
This was at the Broadview Detention Center in the suburbs of Illinois.
He had handcuffs on. He wasn’t happy to see me. His eyes were very much dead.
After we saw each other, R was driven to O’Hare in a van with other men, and was put on a plane to Ciudad Juárez.
Along with his hands, his feet were handcuffed for the flight as well. And so were both of our hearts.
I turned 40 this past January.
At some point during that month I realized that I spent the majority of my 30’s here in Mexico. Deep regret and deep growth pulsing through me simultaneously.
I refuse to continue to mark these two days every year with glassy eyes and my lips pressed together in a thin, tight line.
I’m thinking that next year we should have some kind of party.
No, I’m serious. Next year will be ten years; 2001-2011. There’s a real symmetry to the numbers for those years.
So apparently for 10 years of marriage, the metal or material is tin. Which sounds like ten.
And next year is the ten-year anniversary for our marriage. Which happened a little over a week before R’s deportation.
The party is a celebration and a memorial. Festive and formal. Open bar and open borders.
I’ll be the one next to R, smile on my lips, drink in my hand, signing the praises of that humble metal, tin.