Of waiting, of enduring, and of the morning trees

September 5th, 2023

As far back as I can remember in my personal hispanosphere1, the running joke's been that "to hope" and "to wait" rely on the same word (a esperar), making one feel a certain unease when saying one's waiting, as though doubt is implicit; "I'm waithoping for a response", implying it probably won't be coming, though you'd really like it to. I've long hoped, then, for some better way to express the state of waiting, and lo this morning I've found that a friendly old word tossed around in the house actually serves quite well, though I hadn't noticed: a aguantar. To endure, comes the dictionary's definition, but really it's to hold. Not in your arms, like a sack of flour, but of yourself, like in a battle. To fucking hold, that's the word exactly, I'm holding for a response, not hoping, because if it comes or if it doesn't, when I'm done holding I'll move, and until then, I'm not fucking hoping.

The realization comes by way of a book I'm reading (and hoping to finish before the termites do, holy shit the jungle isn't just a challenge in terms of requiring a machete to walk sometimes; it actually puts hard limits on the available time to read a book, I've made it 35 pages and the more ravenous of the two fuckers boring holes in from the back has eaten through 120!), Mamita Yunai. Supposedly it's something to do with the life of the field hands that slaved for the United Fruit Company (Yunai, as it's transformed in the local pigdin)'s banana plantations, which along with the coffee crop more or less built the platform on which this country teeters. Thus far I suspect it's a sort of knee-jerk wail for mommy socialism, a criole brother of Kipling's The Jungle, which I suppose is fertile ground for a good joke. But I'll tarry on, given at least its richness in words that force me to reorganize my thinking, and then there's always la esperanza that the termites know better than I do.

In less abstract trees, the cypress from three christmases past, that last christmas with master, greens out from the yellow and brown clutches of death behind me on the balcony, while last year's still wanes dryside beside it, and I wait to see if it'll follow suit and give new growth after its roots have had more time to sit and think about things. It's a strange property of plants, that they can seem for all appearances to be quite dead, when really they are holding. And perhaps that's the aptest way to think of death, a holding without hope, or at least without waiting, for further action, negating the possibility of response but nothing else. The truly alive among us, then, are they who give response even to the questions that we haven't yet asked, by expressing boldly, broadly, and well2. To the man who never waited, to the man who marched himself into a hold I may fail to accept yet nevertheless respect, I dedicate, all.


  1. Hispanosphere, that section of my mind or my life entire which takes place in the context of spanish as opposed to the english my mother raised me with or the romanian that laid the gridwork of my climb out of it. Technically it started in public school, but being as all I really retain from the two years I supposedly passed is lapiz and that melifluous taped male voice repeating "Quien es? Es Beto. Beto Chaves*.", we'll settle on Argentina and the mid 2010s as the starting point. Not all that far back, in the end, but what can you do when the first twenty-odd years of your life are more like a holding pattern than a formative period.

    *If you took spanish in the colonies' sad excuse for a public school system in the 90's, I trust you can hear that as plainly as I, and moreover see, too, the stand-in "dreamy teenager" in question turning his ridiculously bespectacled head toward the camera at the same time. []

  2. To read someone is to experience them thinking. It's an airgapped connection, and you may never know if what you perceive meets what was meant, but reading nevertheless manages a distinct sensuality. []

Leave a Reply