calling to say
We are calling to tell you we are free.
I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about this:
At my church I sit on one side of the long white plastic tables; our guests sit on the other. I ask their names and if they’re traveling with anyone, how old their kids are. I write down their contact’s name and city and then dial their phone number and pass the phone across the table. “If you want to say hello to your relative, tell them how you are, then I can explain how they can buy the tickets for you to arrive to their place.”
People mostly nod, take the phone, and talk with their cousins or brothers-in-law or family friends or whoever it is who will offer them a safe place to stay while they fight for asylum. I try not to listen. Our guests have very little privacy, and it feels like the least I can do is try to give the impression their conversations are their own.
On Wednesday there were three people doing this intake work, while I managed paperwork and made connections. I wasn’t working so hard not to listen. Maybe that’s why I heard it, over and over - we are calling to tell you we are free.
“Hola, tía! Estamos llamando a decir que estamos libre.”
“Cuñado, habla María. Estamos libre.”
“Oye, hermano - estamos en Tucson, Arizona, estamos libre.”
We’re free. We’re free. We’re free.
I’ve been free my whole life and I’ve never once called someone to tell them I’m free.
Author, Alison Wood
queer, white, cisgender, U.S. passport-holding, Presbyterian, church-employed, challenged by faith, imagining something better.
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