Pedro Full of Grace
He’s such a Pedro. Across from me, on this 4:30 a.m. Queens-bound N train, on my way to get my stomach cut open, skin excised, and flesh stapled shut, is this Pedro I name Pedro. My cousin Pedro lives in Mexico. Cousin Pedro is a photograph to me. Another brown face. Pedro, as a name, as an idea, as syllables on the lips waiting to be sound, gives comfort but I cannot explain why. Did I mention I am alone? A friend asks, “This is a cosmetic surgery are you sure about this?” He emphasizes the “sure” as if I am not sure over 100 pounds lost should have awarded me the golden ticket into 100 percent body positivity. But this is not that movie. My movie is the movie of too many dollar menu cheeseburgers, too much poverty, too sad too bad. Boys on Grindr, “How does your skin do that?” They are curious how the skin hangs over a playdough-like circular, physics against flesh, but this is if I get lucky enough to not get blocked after sending them a shirtless pic. My boyfriend cheats with a guy from every borough, race, and religion but none are boys with over ten percent body fat. Proactive, I dial up the plastic surgeon, list the routing numbers of my savings account and watch as a few thousand dollars transforms into a few thousand pennies. I convince myself I am doing this for me.
None of that matters. I am here before this Pedro, this man with eyes like my father’s, eyes red and sleep deprived, eyes the eyes of the overworked and underpaid worker, eyes of men who must live out in the body the five hundred years of American history Columbus set in motion when he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. My father doesn’t know I am on this train. He thinks I am sleeping peacefully in my New York City apartment. He thinks I am living the life of the upwardly mobile son of an illiterate and undocumented farm-worker. He thinks I am the American dream. He doesn’t know I hear voices. He doesn’t know I am floundering in my PHD program. He doesn’t know I am not heterosexual. But I just want my father. That man who falls asleep minutes before his motherland wins the World Cup, that man with the stutter divine, that man who contemplates the metaphysics of the universe while trimming the lawns of some corporate complex, some Mr. and Mrs. Cookie-Cutter America, some Princeton/Rutgers/Montclair University. Mi papa, Papi, my hero in dark brown.
Pedro named Pedro is across from me. Eyes half-shuttered, head doing that wobbly motion New Yorkers make when tired. What geographies hospitable to him does he dream up? He’s so photogenetic, so precise in his features, so alike to a cousin of a cousin I crushed on in childhood secrecy. I want to take a photo of him but then I think of the European tourists I saw yesterday, who shamelessly showered a sleeping homeless man with the flashes of photography, thinking to myself how alike they are to their ancestors, their parents, themselves, who photograph the Other in hopes of knowing the secrets of being, the secret to their own being. But I am not like them, and no longer like Pedro. Neither and somewhere between. Pedro on the Q train, the flutter of the lashes are flash enough, Pedro Full of Grace, your Queens-bound eyes my comfort.