This morning, I stare into the jungle behind my kitchen sink, rinsing mashed aga’ off of plates. My son makes small noises in the background, noises of Ninja Turtles loading the Turtle van with “Be Bop” and “Rock Steady.” A tight knot sits in the middle of my throat and I remind myself to keep it tied. At any moment, it will loosen and release a flood of tears. My son has asked me why I am quiet, why I look sad this morning… twice: once while I was serving him breakfast and another time while gently reminding him to keep the noise down. I asked him more nicely than usual, which has alerted him to my sadness. I collect the aga’ peels and walk outside, grateful to be away from his watchful eye. I throw one peel into the jungle. I stop. The knot is beginning to loosen, and this upsets me. I throw another peel, this time more aggressively, and it happens: the knot unravels and I am crying.
Dropping the rest of the banana peels beside my feet, I press my palms to my lips, trying to muffle the cries. I remind myself to pray. I call on my Saina, begging for their strength; and I lift my heart up to the Blessed Mother, as my grandmothers have always taught me to do, asking her to remember us, to intercede for us. I hear my son calling me from inside the house, but I am not ready to look him in the face just yet. I remind myself this has happened before. Our island has been bombed and threatened many times. The United States has put our home in danger many times. They have abandoned us, made us a target for every foreign threat, occupied us…and we’re still here. I close my eyes and think of the generations before me, their many stories have come alive in my head. They have somehow made it possible for me to stand before this jungle, throwing banana peels from trees they once planted, despite slavery, genocide, concentration camps, and colonization. I remind myself that if forced to relive their experiences, with a deep faith, I can get my family through anything. I stand still for a few more minutes, waiting for God to see me through the clouds.
I turn around to find my son standing at the front door, watching me. “Mommy, what are you doing?”
I smile and walk toward him. “Throwing away your mess!” I yell cheerfully. He giggles as I pinch his behind. He is pretending to run away from me while sticking his dagan out for me to grab. I chase him back through the door. “You’re not sad anymore, mommy?”
“No, neni. Mommy was never sad. Sometimes, mommies just have a lot to worry about.” I glance at my phone, it is full of messages from relatives and friends off island. They are sending love because they “saw the news.” I remind myself to be nice. Why don’t I feel like thanking them for their messages? Why don’t I feel like comforting them?
I log into facebook and see off-island activists posting angrily, indignantly, about this recent threat. There are many “I told you so’s” and I scroll past them. A popular author messages me, she wants to know what everyone here is thinking, what we’re saying (because you can never trust local media to tell you) and she’s not seeing many posts from people actually living on Guam. “I only see the diaspora and haoles raising hell about it online. What are you thinking? What’s everyone there saying? What are you guys doing?”
I don’t feel like answering her, but she means well and I consider vomiting out all the anger, bitterness, complete lack of surprise, worry, exhaustion, apathy, hopelessness, hope, and sadness that I (and many other friends are experiencing this morning). I type it out and then delete it. I try again (this time, summoning a voice more rooted in political fact). I delete it. Third time is the charm, right? I type a very preachy response, invoking the tone of confident allies who do not actually live on Guam. I read it and cringe. I sound like a bitch. I delete it, too. I try again, letting three seconds fall between each word before typing the next.
“I, we, feel a lot of things. Thanks for the note. More later.”
I hit “send.”