She walks towards the exit of the neighborhood. Although it makes her late she doesn’t hurry, the years have given her patience. She enjoys the feeling of relief it gives her to leave the apartment. And she enjoys it more because she knows it won’t last long. Her apartment is a box divided into four little boxes. One box for the living room, two boxes for the bedrooms and one box for the kitchen and bath. The building is a big box, composed of sixteen little-box apartments: two little boxes on each side of a stair, two stairs per floor, four floors in all. A tight set of boxes with few windows, boxes that resonate and amplify noises, that accumulate heat during the day until late at night and that leak together, exchanging every kind of liquid from top to bottom. Leaving the claustrophobic box and walking a few blocks helps her relax to face the day.
She reaches an intersection of three streets and the relief disappears. In front of her extends a motley multitude of buildings-crates, with the same dark and dirty stairs, the same roofs bristling with tanks and antennas, the same walls unpainted for years, the same goddamn stinking garbage everywhere. To her left, a stop that hasn’t seen a bus in decades. To the right, a line of cars waiting for passengers going to the city center. The drivers, with professional patience, trading jokes, advice and even the number that came out yesterday. The smell of horse urine warmed by the sun begins to invade the entire area. She crosses a small park, the first they had in the neighborhood. It’s a very curious place that makes her imagine a time gone by that she knows through the stories of her parents. Here the benches are situated like the seats in a movie theater, facing in the same direction. In this place, occupying the total width of the park, a platform rises about half a meter above the rest of the floor. The neighbors have gathered here to meet, almost always at night, to deal with a range of topics: volunteer work, guards, mobilizations in agriculture. On the weekend there could be some musical or theater group and her Mom even recalled a lottery to make the list to order the purchase of toys that came for the children once a year. At the bottom of the platform stands a concrete column with a box, also concrete, with one side open to the benches. For years, this box held the only TV in the neighborhood. During that time the little park was the social center of the area. People decked themselves out for a visit as of they were going to a luxury restaurant, and they demanded silence from the talkers like a professional librarian. Her father says that the first arguments between the baseball fanatics and the soap opera lovers happened here.
Even though the years and the children—above all the children—have helped her understand why the nostalgia for days gone by hits so hard as we age, she can’t help but react with suspicion to these stories told by her parents. More than stories, it’s the tone of naiveté that provokes the greatest reaction. She feels dread towards this simple and transparent world, where it’s so easy to control what people can know, think and do. It enrages her to see the elders, who know no other ways of life, having this as the best, and only, possible option, and sacrificing their lives waiting for a dream that never comes.