real estate in the garden district, because I’m always broken-hearted for New Orleans.
1: Time passes as slow as molasses in the heat. The bricks, this pen, the back of my neck—everything is sweating bajo el sol de Cuba. A man, ancient and shirtless, appears on the balcony adjacent to my roof. He tosses scraps of bones and fat from a bowl. Cats I hadn’t noticed emerge from shadows, yawning and stretching. The man says something, or nothing, and takes great pleasure in watching them eat. I taste salt, feel faint, move inside. I am worried that in life I do not take the balcony view or even the street view as Raul Suarez says, but the view of my own feet in sandals, alone in the laundry room.
2: The birds, the concrete, all of us are waiting for rain. I feel young and inexperienced and mostly ashamed for even giving pause to these feelings when there is a cow eating a trash, a man without shoes, and a toddler with an empty stomach. It is time for reflection and Luke is speaking of an encounter with a man he had previously ignored. Someone who had just wanted to share a mango, share a story. I will later see Luke make the same face in Los Palos, his face pinched as if in physical pain from the suffering he feels in others.
3: “Yo hago permacultura” across the large bouncing breasts of an abuela to the world. What a life force! What joy! My lips purse and curl, my brow furrows. I have the same smiling cry as my mother and grandmother. I packed my great-grandmother’s umbrella too, but when it rains in Cuba I don’t use it. I turn my face to the sky with arms open wide and say, “ahhh.”
4: Eight-year-old Karen reminds me that the only tense I know in Spanish is the present. With her I am wholly in the moment. I want to show her the same so I give her my camera. I want her to look at this street in a way she never has before, in 1/500th of a second. I ask her what she wants her first photo to be. She walks to over to a puddle and captures her reflection.
On the bus back to La Habana, my insides are both exploding out and bonding together. I am being crushed by the earth’s suffering and yet transformed by the stupidly beautiful goodness of a little girl. This is deep ecology, I think. Being alone and with everything, at once, all the time.
5: We three cling to strange splinters of history. You bite your finger while mine traces a leaf on the tablecloth. I peel thighs from a chair, knees touch, I am listening in every cell of my body. The fan smokes my cigarette. The light is tranquila, tranquila. We three know what the world revolves around.
6: Ariel, Ariel, Ariel. He is an angel, I swear it. I retreat to my room and sit in front of the vanity. We are born new every day, I think, and so, my heart, tomorrow comes.
Long Beach: On an over-stuffed green couch at 6th and Temple, you told me you were moving out and home because you just couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to lay my head in your lap and cry. We ate hot dogs and IMed Darren.
Sacramento: On an air mattress in your living room, we lay with inches carefully calculated between us, talking about how good things were with you and Rachel now and how your dining room chairs needed re-upholstering, so could we please go to Jo-Ann Fabrics tomorrow.
Portland: Sandwiched between you and Kyle in a Nissan pickup with 200,000 miles and no radio, I straddled a stick shift and did not, even during a sharp left-turn, let my knee rest against yours.
After a two day blizzard on the border of Switzerland in the coldest town in all of France, Mouthe, I was handed a pair of aluminum snow shoes and asked to find three missing ponies in the woods at the base of the Jura Mountains.