There’s a certain kind of broken sky we never get in Santiago. A weak northeastern sun that fractures the space above into clumps and sheep and defrocked pillows. This sky whispers directly into my head. It says you are waiting for the B49 bus on Ocean Avenue, your curls frozen in the chill winter air, and they will melt while you stand and review geometry lessons for a test through which, as a freshman in a sophomore class, you will surprise a group of people you are terribly afraid of, because at fifteen they know everything, and at thirteen you are sure you know nothing except how to solve a proof in eight steps (or fewer).
The sky today, like then, is struck through in parts with the twiggy branches that elementary school students draw to show the four seasons, spindly tree fingers stretched out above, striking poses, one hip jutting out, winter, spring, summer, fall.
But in these kids’ drawings there is never a sky, as though no one cared what hung above, as if to say, don’t memorize it, because one day you will live in a place where the sky doesn’t break like that against shades of grey and the blue of promised sunshine, and you will miss it without missing it until you see it on the El ride one morning on the way to yet another city, even farther away, 5000 miles now, where friends from your unbroken sky city in South America have made a new home.
And you ask yourself if it means something that the sky calls you so loudly on a winter morning in Chicago, and what that has to do with where you once belonged, where sophomores were scary and Brooklyn and the sky above it were your whole world. Or if maybe the answer is in those gangly, reaching trees, who exist just to scratch that sky, and the nostalgia they awakened.