My dad was right, there is rubbish everywhere. Once he’d said it– on a drive from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo, it became the thorn in my side. There were packets in the verges and the curbs, in the crevices of the cracks, in the enclosures for the horses and the cows. The grass was tall, but it couldn’t contain them– the coffee cups, the burger boxes, the waste that’d bred with other waste, the white, featureless things that knew nothing of themselves.
If we moved to the Dominican Republic then we’d all be in business or politics, we’re from London. My dad would fix the litter issue ‘by handling the little things, so that the big things can sort themselves.’ He’d make sure pride was taught in schools. But I figured that I wanted people to hate me. I’d throw everyone in jail, if it left the streets clean. I wish I’d come up with the school thing first, but I didn’t. I wanted a bloody war, and some posthumous respect. I wanted a plaque in a rose garden.
I dropped out of a history degree in search of something else, but I remember seeing myself in the textbooks. I’m the bad politician, the ice-blooded policymaker in the white gloves, a tough sugar cookie. I’m that person who hates bad more than I love good. Where people see pain, I see something with the kind of voltage that opens eyes wide. That’s why I’d crack the whip, parade the people in handcuffs, prise the families apart. But my dad would rather teach and wait.
I wanted my war and rose garden because I’m young and kidless, but also because I was plotting it out in the dark, before my dad came and switched the light on. Now I can see there’s another way. That’s what a dad is mostly, illumination. I’m too young still to know whether I’m long-suffering, and I’m too much of an individual to be truly selfless. That’s why it shouldn’t be left to me to write the policies, neither home, nor away.
There is rubbish in London, in the curbs and the waysides. It is so there, that it isn’t anymore. Yet, it’s the Dominican Republic that is pining for law and order. There is no one righteous enough to do any cleaning of any kind anywhere. Who will wash the streets then, if not the one who is infinitely old with infinite children?