Human Postcards

Cover to the short story 'Human Postcards', about a young man who is struck down at the prime of his life but learns to go on.

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved.

 

Never fall in love with someone from abroad. That is unless you have a wallet thick enough to cushion the fall.

I was a young man just starting off in life, the whole world in my hands and understanding what a powerful effect this could create. Perhaps this was knowing too much, since it takes most people a number of decades to realize and therefore truly appreciate youth, only after it has slipped from one’s grasp.

Not I, my daily steps always filled with liveliness, fueled by passion and laced with optimism. This enthusiasm wasn’t instilled into me. In fact I had come from quite little. A family of talkers who couldn’t find it in themselves to actually do. I couldn’t really explain it. Maybe I had been lucky enough to fall far from the tree, or maybe a black sheep came along and gobbled me up as soon as I hit the ground. Either way I seemed destined to achieve, but just as my engines were revved and I was ready to blast off a fifteen ton obstacle came slamming into me.

As if the universe were telling me I indeed knew too much and therefore had to be stopped so as not to accomplish too much, given its plan of planting me among underachievers, it sent a big ass truck my way, aligning the side of its obtrusive steel face with the side of mine and knocking me out cold as soon as I stepped out into a crosswalk.

If only I had known the hours leading up to such a life-altering event would be the last in seeing the world with such clarity, oh how I would have stopped to take it all in. One last time that vast blue sky with its long white clouds like nature’s brush strokes, amazingly animated as they slowly crawl, shift, disappear back into the blue. A trail of small ants trekking across a wide sidewalk and into the inviting green of a front lawn, the ability of 20/20 vision to zone in on each blade of grass and even tiny droplets of dew on top of that.

Being my last outlook of the world in such purity I would have even taken my gaze towards a beautiful stranger, releasing myself from all inhibition as I tell her just how gorgeous I find her sky blue eyes, sunset smile, sensual physique.

These are all details of sight I no longer possess, the accident having left me totally blind in one eye, legally blind in the other. Along with adapting to extreme nearsightedness came a contemplation most my age never have to think upon. With doctors giving no clear answer as to the future of my remaining vision, what if the rest was lost to darkness before I met the woman I wished to spend the rest of my life with? The child I had yet to bear? Would I then never know the priceless joy of seeing their faces?

Faced with such fear one’s path in life can dramatically change within such a short period of time, in turn redirecting my determined energy to finding a life-long partner before the universe once again creeps in with its merciless shadow.

Coming from a society which teaches us to take our time when choosing a spouse it was unlikely I would find someone as serious as I in the land I called home, and so with unwavering focus I set my sights on a section of the globe that puts less emphasis on the superficial and more on the sanctity of marriage. I had never even imagined ever seeking a mail-order bride, but now here I was, scrolling websites like an online shopper, looking for a wife.

Pretty much all these women come from underdeveloped nations, understandably wanting to marry out of poverty and into a better life. Sure some are gold diggers just looking for a ticket to the most prosperous country in the world, but this possible problem was one I would avoid due to my situation. Now being on disability I didn’t meet the income limit to be eligible to sponsor a foreign fiancé or wife, which meant I’d have to migrate to the country of whomever I’d choose, unable to get them a visa anytime soon. So yeah, although it meant leaving the comforts of the first world country I had always known, at least our relationship would have a strong foundation. Ironic that this now actually made me a mail-order groom.

Eventually my search led me to a woman I could see myself being with for the rest of my life, our correspondence via emails and video chats painting a picture of a promising future. The human condition is quite remarkable on so many different levels, and when it comes to yearning one would do just about anything to quench the thirst. With that said, after only a few weeks I was packing and making final arrangements, my one-way ticket out of my home country having me wonder when I’d ever set foot back in it, my heart convincing me it didn’t matter.

 

‘Not anytime soon.’ The sentence I had used to warn my soon-to-be wife and myself. Little did I know such words would prove to be all too real. With my American can-do spirit I had adapted well enough to Third World conditions, believing it to be temporary and wasting no time in trying to look for opportunity via the internet once we had married and found a place to call home. But by this time people back in my home country were used to dismissing with a simple click of the mouse, not truly realizing how important my countless S.O.S’ were when they’d hit delete.

Before I knew it I was a few years in and about to lose the last of my innocent youth. A harsh environment can do this to you, and then when word came that I no longer had disability benefits to keep us afloat I began to drown in desperation. I mean, here I was, an American in a Third World country, near blind and with no income.

Needless to say, I began to hunt like a madman.

What ended up saving us was what I had come to this new world with; my foreign tongue and can-do wit. Even Third Worlds have modern cities with well-to-do people, even if the latter comes from a small percentile. So we boarded a bus and headed for the country’s capital, using the last of our funds to get me a decent suit for an interview with an international school. I’d be applying for a teaching position that mainly involved Conversational English, so as long as I could bullshit my way into having all believe I could see well enough to teach, (unlike back home, these parts have no problem in showing open discrimination) I’d memorize the material beforehand and pretend to see the projected lessons up on the wall.

And so I proceeded with my teaching demo.

 

Over a decade later and I’m still teaching, countless students throughout the years having learned not only basic English skills from me but also what to expect once they set foot on my home soil. At first I was envious, these young privileged people having all the opportunity in the world, something I once had, as they head to my land of opportunity. But with time came acceptance, and now I view my students as human postcards. Messages to back home, saying I miss you dearly even though you weren’t there for me when I needed you. Having given this young person the knowledge I have to offer, they now carry  a piece of me with them. So in a way I am back home. Back in my youth. Back when I had the whole world in my hands.

And besides, I’m grateful that I at least make enough money to produce a comfortable living. Not enough to meet that income limit demanded by my government to get a visa for my wife, don’t know if that day will ever come, but enough to put me in a third world’s middle class.

Turns out my sight held up after all these years, grateful for what my doctor calls ‘stable’. Do I regret having taken the drastic measure of finding a companion in such a short period of time? No, because although I could be living within the comforts of my home country with someone from my neck of the woods, when this all started I had no idea how much longer I had to see. No one did. So I stand by my decision. Besides, what came out of it is priceless…

A loving wife and beautiful child, the latter of which will be my most personal of human postcards, as she will soon be going off to college while I stay with her mother. From as far back as she could comprehend I’ve been preparing her for this trip, sharing with her all I could about the greatest country in the world. Being a child of one of its citizens, she automatically became one upon birth, and will pick up where daddy left off.

Life: Only time tells what kind of postmark it will leave upon us.

~

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