Finding Family, Part Four: My Constellation

It was time for endings, beginnings, and a season of change.

David Valdes

--

Will I recognize them? And how embarrassing will it be if I don’t?

Despite having seen my sisters on Zoom and in photos, those were the thoughts in my head as I hurried up the jetway and followed signs from my gate to the terminal. What if I started off the weekend with a case of mistaken identity and rushed toward the wrong people?

I had nothing to fear: my sisters looked exactly as I imagined…at least, facially. Physically, they were shorter than I expected, which is to say shorter than me. I was suddenly the tall one, which is quite a statement, considering that I am not even 5’4.” Even as the middle child, it made me feel a little like the big brother.

They were warm, funny, and beautiful. My nerves were thoroughly calmed in a blur of hugs and chatter, as we made our way from the airport to lunch.

Ensconced in a cheetah-print booth at a Miami restaurant inexplicably decked out like a bordello on Fantasy Island, the conversation flowed like a stream, interrupted only by the occasional appearances of a handsome waiter with an unplaceable accent built to distract from his ineptitude. Our food was slow in coming, but it hardly mattered, as the conversation stretched into a second hour.

By the time we finally received the bill, the day had gone from sunny to surprise rain. “Surprise” wouldn’t ordinarily be the right word for a summer afternoon shower in Miami, something I had learned as a boy during summer stays with my dad. But this was different: it was a true downpour of the epic rain-blowing-sideways variety. We waited on the covered sidewalk for it to pass. Except that it didn’t.

Our car was parked a few blocks away and we had no umbrella. Should we keep waiting as long as it took? Or just suck it up and run for the car, knowing we’d be drenched? Maria Elena wanted to call an Uber, but Elizabeth and I told her to wait. My vast Uber experience — as a man who has never had a license — convinced me that a driver would be impossible to find in such weather. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was sure the rain would pass any minute. Maria Elena endured us, her doubting siblings, for as long as she could, but when…

--

--

David Valdes

David Valdes is a Cuban-American author who writes about family, race, and LGBTQ issues. His book Brighter than the Moon releases in January 2023.