Sunday, July 27, 2008
Zone #1 is to my lower left.
That's where the cellphone goes.
Zone #2 is in the middle.
That's where keys (and sometimes money) go.
Zone #3 is to the right.
That's where lipgloss goes.
So today, at a birthday party for 4 year olds, my phone is in it's usual Zone #1 and I get a call.
It's not great news, a friend had a computer stolen. After a short talk and a text, I shut the phone off and return it to its warm nest.
The group of sweating parents keep scooting our chairs, leaning into the elusive shade, sweltering in the mid-day July humidity of a sunny windless afternoon.
I reach into my bra for my phone, which doubles as a clock, to check the time and gauge how much longer until I can dive into a cool shower and finish grading exams.
The phone stays dark, even when I hit buttons.
I click, tap, and shake it.
I turn it on, turn it off, blow on it.
Later, at home, I get one call. The screen works fine, I know who is calling, but I can't answer it.
The keys don't work.
It is quite dead, or at the very least, stunned and unresponsive.
This phone has walked with me through about 15 crazy months, but I am not attached to it because that is not my nature.
Already, I imagine writing its obituary -- Cause of death: smothered by boobs.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Are you hands wet? he asks, flinching as if from some imagined torture.
No, I haven't even turned the water on yet, I assure him, still baffled at his dislike for water.
We are Cuban. We are from New Orleans, Florida, and before that, Spain, Ireland and Italy. Generations surrounded by water, loving water, all except this little guy.
I don't see any point in telling him this, so I turn on the water and pump soap on the dishes.
He hands me spoons.
I'm a good helper, he proclaims to no one in particular.
Yes, I agree staring out the window. And you're getting to be such a big one too!
I'm never going to grow up. I will always be your little boy.
He bats his eyelashes smiling, and I respond with mock horror.
Yes you ARE going to grow up! I want you to grow up!! Imagine this.... one day when I'm doing dishes, you're going to come up behind me, and hug me, and you'll be SO tall, you will rest your chin on top of my head!
Really! That big? His eyes grow big with shock.
Yes. THAT big.
He sits still for a minute, fiddling with toothpicks, allowing the magnitude of this realization to him. I continue scrubbing spaghetti sauce out of the pan.
Well, when I get big, I'm never going to drive. He says this like a counter-offer, so I accept it.
Fine, you don't have to drive. Mommy wasn't really in a hurry to drive either. And guess what? I didn't take left hand turns until I was... like.... 30. Ask your Tita.
Really? But you do now. And will you always drive me?
I will always drive you until you're ready to drive yourself.
Because you will always be bigger than me.....
No, I won't be bigger, but I'll be your Mommy.
How can you take care of me if I'm bigger than you?
Well, I'll always do everything I can to make sure you're OK, and I will always teach you things.
This makes him swoon with happiness, and he leans over from his kitchen counter perch to rest his head on my chest.
Don't hug me with your wet hands though, OK?
I won't touch you, I assure him, reaching for the spray hose and pointing it right at his face.
And, technically, I didn't lay a finger on him.... but he did get very very wet.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I didn't go to the funeral.
I almost went, I planned to go, then I just couldn't.
And Emily completely understands, I know she did and she does.
It was her who told me (sometimes every day, sometimes less often) "be tough."
That's was our code.
Hey! You! Remembering to be tough?
Tough wins. And fake it til you make it, OK tough-woman?
Emily was Georgia Peach Steel Magnolia tough.
Toughness doesn't kill cancer, and now I sit here without her, tough enough to brave the silence that could never fill her space.
I didn't go her funeral because it has taken me months to surface from the grief of losing Abuela and then Melissa (and before that, Beth and Sally and John and Pepe and Fifi) and still now I am sure sun doesn't shine nearly as brightly as I think I used to.
While I was not at the funeral, my friend Deb played with the kids all day, then brought Pizza over for dinner.
After dark, we were in my kitchen catching up on a few things while I nibbled on pizza crusts and M&M's.
Deb's ringing phone shattered our moment....
"Is that ... is it??.... Dude looks like a lady...?"
Who is calling? I ask, pausing between handfuls of candy.
It's ME? How can I be calling you?
And there Zoe appeared, my phone by her ear, calling to interrupt us.
That's the ringtone you set for ME? Dude looks like a lady?
She nodded, shyly.
But Deb, now everyone will know that you know I'm just a tough Dude who had some work done ....
And we laughed, again and some more, sliding from the sadness to list-making, chapter outlining, back to the things we need to get done during our short time here.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
M* dreamed about Tata last night.
She came to her in a dream, young happy and vibrant, and told her to stand up for her.
And then she looked for me, to get me, and then turned around and Tata was gone.
She cried, and cried.
I listened to her painfully and bravely recount, process and release the story.
Not all of our conversations are this somber, this raw.
Sometimes we talk about children, books, random little things.
Other times our stories pull us onto jagged cliffs of memories and longing.
The mourning has not ended, it ebbs and flows, crashes and abates.
I cannot harness it, it is too big, so I ride it.
Last night, I dreamed about Tata, and she dreamed about me.
In our dream, I opened the sliding glass door and lead the kids to the backyard.
Tata was out there with a group of women standing in circle. I didn't recognize any of them, but I didn't mind that they were there.
Tata stepped away from the group that warmly surrounded her in her own dream -- her mother and sisters? her childhood friends? -- and walked towards me.
She didn't say a word, but her eyes were laughing, as she pulled a chair from the table, carried it to the middle of the yard.
Certain that she had my undivided attention, Tata sat down and playfully mocked me in a most-familiar way by making exaggerately feminine and ladylike gestures -- crossing her legs daintily, dangling her hands over the arm rests, fixing her skirt over her knees and brushing off invisible lint off her body.
As I smiled at my Tata loca sitting regally on her chair-throne right in the middle of my yard, she gestured Vamos! at me.
She cocked her head in a personal challenge, daring me to entertain her.
I shook my head.
I had to feed the kids, do laundry, and generally be a Mom (this is a dream, remember?), no time to stand around and play.
Maldita! I said to her, shaking my finger mockingly at her arrogance at appearing and commanding me.
She understood, immediately and completely, our heads nodding a unison of unspoken affection.
And then, after just barely enough time but more than I'd asked for or hoped for, Tata stood up and walked back to the circle of women.
Off she went, back to the magic of her now-eternal dream, leaving my chair and my yard and other parts of me and this world invisibly emptier and quieter.
who joined the Air Force.
That's her in the picture below,
the one in the tight white
"hot nurse" uniform,
pulling someone's shorts down
right in front of her commanding officer,
the short haired
tough looking colonel
sitting on the curb
While she was stationed in Turkey,
she met a Major
who was a navigator
and who also was
to his second wife.
From what I've heard,
he did not love his second wife
nearly as much as his first wife,
the beauty queen who left him
for a Lt. Colonel
on the exact same day
that his plane was shot down
a tiny bit west
But also from what I've heard
he loved his third wife
most of all.
And when I go through the Captain's pictures
(the ones that end in August 1994,
the year the navigator died
and his family splintered like a vase hitting a marble floor),
I see what she brought him.
For a little while,
too short if you ask me,
they had something wonderful.
Friday, July 4, 2008
In 1980, over 200,000 Caribbean - mostly Cuban - immigrants arrive in Miami, a city already gripped with race riots.
It was indeed, a new morning in America, a morning of the day that would be the 1980s and see the crumbling of the Warsaw Pact and protracted battles in Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.