I’m a city girl. I’ve also been in the Peace Corps for 9 months.
I grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. It’s a farming town. At 17, I escaped to Wellesley College in Boston on a nearly full financial aid package. There, I discovered that it’s okay to be gay. The Peace Corps placed me in a large city because I feel safer in cities.
My trip to Calle Real began with a piggy bank. A few months ago, I saw an older woman with proud, high cheekbones named Abigail painting a blue piggy bank in the park. They were big, small, and in all colors. I was intrigued. We chatted about her experience with microcredit loans. She commutes to Calle Real each week, where her family lives.
Last weekend, she invited me to stay with her in the campo (Spanish for country). I was going to be in the area anyway, so I accepted. I felt nervous about going to stay with someone I’d just met in a rural area. Something told me to go.
Abigail hugged me after I got off the bus. We took a moto-taxi through the dusty road. Ducks and chickens waddled around and into her house, where her older son lay in a hammock. Abigail fed me fish and mac & cheese. I thanked her profusely for filling me up.
Her son asked me about my family. He asked if my family owned a farm. “My mom has a rooster and ten chickens. When I’m home, I love eating fresh eggs at any time of the day!”, I replied. He smiled and looked back at the TV.
The rains came and vanquished the dusty air. I stopped sweating. The ducks splashed in their newly made pools. I was content.
We met Abigail’s daughter, who she calls “La Negra”, because of her dark skin. We sat on plastic chairs and enjoyed the smell of wet dirt.
Abigail asked me about my trip home last month. Had I seen my mom? No. I hesitated. Since she’d said the Spanish equivalent of “fag” earlier when watching TV, not knowing that I was gay, I was nervous. “I visited my partner-she’s a woman."
Luckily, she reacted with curiosity. “So does that mean you cannot marry a man?” I said I didn’t care to. She nodded and we chatted some more about all sorts of things. I was afraid that my queerness would disrupt my visit to the campo, but life continued on. Abigail’s daughter was unfazed, as she continued breastfeeding her baby son right in front of me. I looked up at the sky, and I could see the stars for once.
Just like in Moses Lake.