Tears of the Streets

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Bogota, Colombia

She burst in, thick and lumpy like a rain cloud, her eye sockets drizzling these tiny, quiet tears.

“I’m Francesca.” She flopped on her bed, tapped her nails on the phone on her watermelon chest until she burst. “I feel like I just don’t know what’s going on… in my life. I feel so confused and sad and I just came back because I was crying for no reason — I feel like a crazy person.”

I said, “this girl I’m with says that exact same thing about every four days.”

She tapped again. She’d evaporated the confusion of the city into her skin; it floated around her in clumps.

“I don’t know what to do with my life. I was supposed to figure it out before I went back home. But I’m going back in 7 days and I haven’t figured it out yet.”

I said, “The secret is that nobody knows what they’re doing. Even if they seem like they’ve got a job, or they build things or say words, they have families or careers, they’re all kidding themselves if they think they know what they’re really doing with their lives. Deep down, nobody knows. The trick is to find a way to fake it, or enjoy your time as well as you can.”

She sniffled.

“Do you want to get something to eat?”

On the way to get food, a woman sobbed gently into her hair as her boyfriend stood facing her, hands in pockets.

“See, that girl is crying, too,” I said.

Three people stood in the doorway of the burger place. They were as drunk as physically possible. A stringy-haired guy with an old guitar sang to his woman in a raspy voice as she pressed her forehead to his. Their tears trickled off their chins. A man in the middle bound them together with his arms.

This morning I chewed vegetables while the woman in the hostel kitchen sobbed and fried someone’s eggs. I asked her co-worker why and he said, “I think it’s the weather.”