P: -El camino a la paz es la paz.
La Alumna: -La paz eres tu.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Crunching through chips and salsa, a friend and I catch up before work. The worn, olive-green chair to my right tempts me, making me wish it were Sunday, so I could slouch in it and read all afternoon. But it isn’t Sunday, nor is it afternoon. It’s early Monday evening, and my corner bookstore and café is once again a corner bar, that by Wednesday night will be standing room only.
“Hey, you think I can bum a paper off that guy?” My friend asks, pointing a chip at the far table next to the bookshelf and door.
I dice a fat tomato with mine. “Well, considering you’ve only said one thing to him, and shouted it from way over here, it could be a little early. Plus it looks like he’s leaving.”
My persistent companion ignores my advice, a common reaction of his, and the diversion questions go out. After answering a mere two, not only does the guy from Connecticut calm my friend down, he even joins us for a chat.
Impressive. I think. What I say is, “So how you do you like Madrid?”
“It’s a great city.” He says, stepping off his barstool only to reset his sneaker into the wood crosspiece and push himself back up onto it again. “Really beautiful. I remember the first time I came out of the subway at that big plaza on the main road. Reminded me a little of New York.”
“Yeah, I’ve thought that before too.” I answer.
“It’s been a real crazy trip though.” He shifts around some more. “Every plan I had has fallen through.”
“Like what?” My friend asks while I work a feisty sprig of parsley down with my beer.
He answers after adjusting his position a third time, finally deciding on the halfway point of even being on his seat. “I’m a photographer, and my camera equipment was stolen from my hostel. And my laptop.” He adds. “So that’s got me pretty bummed.”
“I’m so sorry that happened to you while you were here.” I say, hoping he’ll let go.
“Yeah, almost went home after that. But I figure, I’m already out here. Plus I’m sort of on this mission for some guy I met a few days ago.” He stops for a moment. “You want to see something crazy?” Before we can confirm that, yes, we do indeed want to see something crazy, he slides the rest of the way off his seat, unzips a gray backpack and continues. “You might think I’m morbid.”
Our eyes are engaged on his deeply digging hands.
“The original plan was to go to India, but, well, like I said, nothing’s really working out as planned.” He pulls out a cream-colored lip balm tin, covered in delicately painted miniature lavender flowers. “So, the guy I mentioned. Well. I’m carrying his grandmother’s ashes to Egypt.
I look to my friend and am astounded by his calmness. I turn back to this random stranger and his ashes and declare, “This is exactly why I don’t do original plans. They don’t give you this.”
I extend my hand and he puts the tiny urn in my left palm. The creepiness is absorbed by the honor I feel in having this woman pass through my life, if even for just this moment. I curl my fingers up, in case of a blessing.
Her carrier tells us about his traveling through Europe and meeting her grandson. After his own plans had gone awry, he entrusted our new friend with his very personal journey. But as he talks, it’s clear he’s not very sure why he’s even doing it, and that he may be traveling solely under the weight of a self-imposed obligation. He is not accustomed to so much change, nor does he know what to do with it. The rain outside begins to let up, signaling my friend to gather his things.
Outside the three of us make our way down the narrow sidewalks in semi single file. The first mentally prepares his classroom discussion, the second pines for India and I, at the back, offer other ways of looking at the situation.
“Enjoy the madness that is this trip overseas.” I say, stepping over a puddle. Go wherever it takes you. You can always come back. And don’t worry about India. You’ll go when it’s time. I know it, especially if you’re thinking about it so much.”
We accompany my friend to his work then I ask him if he’d like to see something beautiful. Before he can answer, I start across the plaza, the one that sits on a street that reminds us a little of a city back home. I say nothing at the stoplight, nor on the steep, wood-lined steps we begin to make our way up. Droplets of water slide off the ivy crawling up alongside the path. Our legs burn and we reach the top pink and panting.
Even under the winter sky it is an oasis above the city. We walk through the veil of pear-shaped palm trees and sit on the curb at the park's edge. It is quiet, apart from the scratching of the lighter beside me. We watch the gondola below, its single line and simple brown cars gently rocking to the other side of Parque del Oeste. Like the glow crumbling off the tip of his cigarette, the sun sets a slice of orange peel on us, two strangers, huddled together over falling ash and shared uncertainty. But the uncertainty is light, its heaviness has moved to the flat pools behind us that swell under the enormous stones of Templo de Debod, a gift to Spain, from Egypt.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
El secreto de mis calcetines
Finales de septiembre 2011: una madrileña de la calle de Alcalá y un norteamericano de "Forlárdedeil", observando a los turistas en el centro de Firenze.
La madrileña ya me ha indicado la pinta chillona de americano que tengo por llevar calcetines blancos. Yo, sigo firme en mi posición de que una franja de tela que apenas cubre el tobillo no pueda tener mucho peso con la opinión pública.
—Eran los más baratos que tenían en el súper —protesto—, y ni siquiera se ven.
Estamos en el bello vórtice de uno de los más concurridos focos del turismo europeo, así que no faltan los norteamericanos de mediana edad. Todos visten camisas de polo, pantalones cortos que no se aventuran allende las rodillas, una gorra que podría ser de la misma marca que los pantalones, zapatillas deportivas y desde luego, calcetines blancos. Su atuendo es siempre en tonos tierra, sin nada que brille o llame la atención. A ellos no les interesa la moda, tan sólo la ropa. Me doy cuenta de que todos los varones en mi familia se visten exactamente igual, como si fuera un uniforme.
—Mi padre y mis tíos llevan ese mismo uniforme —digo en alto.
—A que llevan calcetines blancos también.
Me ha picado la curiosidad. ¿Acaso es posible, que una insulsa prenda de color nula sea una contundente confirmación de nacionalidad? Yo habría optado por los pantalones cortos, o bien el volumen de barriga que intenten contener.
Nos fijamos en dos hombres que están conversando junto a una portada.
—Con la bici tiene que ser italiano —apunto yo.
—Sí, puede ser, pero el otro no —dice la madrileña.
—¿Por qué? ¿Por lo zaino? —pregunto. Estamos en el segundo día en Italia, y ya me estoy quedando incapaz de distinguir entre las dos lenguas.
—¿Por lo qué?
—Por el… por la mochila.
—No, no. Es que no pillarías ni muerto a un italiano con calcetines con chanclas, ni tampoco a un español.
Lleva calcetines azules dentro de sus chanclas playeras con doble cierre de velcro. Además lleva un papel doblado en la mano que bien podría ser el plano de la ciudad de un turista perdido.
—Es verdad, tampoco tiene pinta alguna de italiano —le doy la razón.
—Debe de ser del norte de Europa.
Vemos pasar a un grupo de cinco personas, algunas de mediana edad, con aire familiar. Llevan mochilas ligeras y ropa que parece en algo al antedicho uniforme norteamericano, pero no es lo mismo. El esquema de color nos resulta más familiar. Más europeo.
—Y éstos, ¿americanos o alemanes?
—Ellos.. sí, alemanes.
Pasa una pareja, y tan fácilmente se descarta la posibilidad de que sean extracontinentales:
—¿Y ellos dos? —pregunta la madrileña.
—Non so. ¿Francia? Europeos genéricos.
Pasa otra pareja: esta vez un chaval joven con camiseta roja que luce un diseño hortera y un peinado que sugiere un deseo subconsciente de convertirse en un tiburón. Le sigue una chica de edad parecida, con aspecto de universitaria.
—¿San Blas o Vallecas?
En ningún momento he visto a nadie acicalado con calcetines blancos menos los norteamericanos y yo, que también soy norteamericano. Pero llevo seis años viviendo en Madrid y en ese tiempo he tenido que comprar ropa nueva. Ya no me queda casi nada de los United; hasta los calcetines blancos son de la Eurozona. La curiosidad me sigue picando.
—Y yo, ¿de dónde parece que soy?
—Pues tú, si no fuera por ese bolso diría americano total.
—Pero si no llevo puesto nada de allí.
—Hijo, ya te lo he dicho. Son los calcetines.
Ésta ha sido una revelación imprevista. Allí en una acera enfrente del Palazzo Strozzi, estoy en los albores de comprender que la gente realmente se fija en los calcetines, y es más, hasta mi propio subconsciente también. Paso un momento rumiando el asunto. La madrileña me interrumpe:
—Si no quieres que te tomen por americano, tienes que coger algo más normal. ¿Cómo se dice «calcetines» en italiano? ¿Calcetini?
—Calzini. Y no, grazie. Così mi piaciono tanto. Así me gustan mucho.
Vinculado aún con mi tierra por un el color de un par de calcetines. Sí, me gustan mucho. Supongo que es sólo de esperar, que sea una cosa tan pequeña la que insinúa cual es el vínculo verdadero: yo mismo.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Leaving the other page blank, starting on this line, this Saturday at the beach, the lemon beer and the joint I am sharing is my much-needed break. Writing you something positive and beautiful a break for us both. Not that my two years here haven’t been beautiful or positive, but they have a very rough surface, such a moist fruit inside almost forgotten at first glance and touch. Being in Ibiza, now, couldn’t be better. Rather than revisit her shining and floating somewhere above, I come to her very human, naked and recently woken. I’m at a narrow, rocky beach with only room for children who tend to the water, and us mortals sustaining the heat with cold beers and sunglasses. A tan, ridiculous how we go about it. The children are darker than us all and none of them are lying down.
When I think of my childhood now, I remember that it was a time of much creativity & learning. The other night, I’m not even sure how, or why then, she came back to me, and I not only remembered her, but I felt her there, inside me. My creativity is back and it is bringing with it the joy I’ve been missing and the answer whose absence was starting to crack my head and heart. But both are here and fine. But I see that without it, I will walk this earth only a ghost. It is my air, writing this, expressing this place where we find ourselves. This dream enamors me and I must speak of it, sing of it, touch it and know it, not for what seems, but for what is. When I see that it is Marijuana that opens me up like this, I wonder if it’s really such a terrible thing for me to be ingesting. ‘No, no, time to be working’, meaning time to be sleeping. I’m starting to think if we put the money down for a minute, stop playing with it, we’d look up and see what’s really going on and not even just that, but a solution. We would find food all around us, shelter all around us, and we’d run to whoever needed it with open arms. But we don’t. Because we are sleeping children, and those are very hard to wake.
I’m going to start volunteering again. It makes me remember that we are all the same when it comes down to it, it being the emergency of our lives. I’m thinking about listening to those that wait on the three corners between my house and the water. I don’t want my first volunteer experience in Ibiza to be at some club. I hope they will trust in me, and more importantly, I hope I hear them.
Thank you for such a lovely letter and for such true love and support. I am writing to thank you and to tell you that yes, I’m making music again.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Cover Your Mouth, por el amor de dios!
Heading northeast on the green line, I’m holding my breath and frantically fanning my face with a magazine in hopes of dispersing any strands of the newest influenza supposedly floating from the gaping throats of my neighbors. My legs stick to the orangey-brown plastic of my seat as I lean forward, searching for fresh pockets of air to sip from.
It isn’t children doing the careless hacking this afternoon. No. Once again, I find it’s the adults who are out of control. It is they who are lunging from their seats, hands clamped tight around their thighs, mouths exploding open, admitting a phlegmy roar I thought was locked safely behind the screens of horror films.
Take for example the monster seated to my right. Disguised as a fairly handsome, older gentleman he pulls off casual-cool in green khaki shorts and a wavering concentration in his ‘news’ paper. His left leg is thrown over the right, leaving the latter’s black loafer (minus the sock) to hang from the toe. What lies beneath his breast has begun to unearth itself, leaving a few warning signs and me to desperately look for someone to get up so I can move. He glances at me. I smile. He clears his throat and I brace myself, sliding slowly to the left, afraid to taunt him any further. I bite my lower lip and he pushes both of his out. And in this moment of my absolute dread, with no means of escape, he scrunches up his nose, clenches his throat, sucks up a massive, rubbery wad and rolls it around in his mouth while, as I imagine and hope, he decides what to do with it.
I can’t move.
Tears come to my eyes and just as the train comes into a station I had no plans of getting off at, a plump woman sitting across from me displays her own set of respiratory ailings, forcing me to jump up and before exiting berate everyone aboard.
“Hay Gripe! Hay GRIPE!” I yell, with an unexpected Italian accent and a waving of my hands to match.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
"My problem as a journalist is I'm not much of a journalist." --Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America - Las Tablas, Madrid, España
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I’m leaning against the glass doors, right shoulder on the sticker that suggests I don’t. The passing clouds lift the gray from the seats and the black contrast of the bare trees forgive their navy blue centers. I look out into the cold, enjoying the two stops that run alongside the park, free from the florescent confines of the underground.
I woke up on this train. My train. It was a few months back, the end of fall and another day of work I’d not imagined doing. It was full and I was standing. I had looked up from my book and down the aisle of hanging heads. They were heavy and dropping down into great tombs so massive they couldn’t be lifted from the laps they were laying in. No one spoke. The only sounds were the opening and closing doors, a cough and the ruffling of newspaper. There were only a few heads raised. Their eyes scanned me, but never really looked. My smile terrified them, returning them to their pages.
Recalling my great awake, I look down, trying to remember the pull of my own weighty head. As I stretch the chords at the back of my neck, a tiny black and polished shoe with a white stocking begins to slide slowly towards me and doesn’t stop until it is pressed gently against my own. It doesn’t move. I follow the stocking up to a small girl in a brown and white, plaid school dress. Her black hair is glistening, thick and cut square above her shoulders. Her eyes hold mine and I smile. She smiles back and we start on to the next stop, feet happily together at last.
I’m aware that it shouldn’t feel as awkward as it does. Her curiosity and trust keep me there with her until her exit. Her mom leads her carefully over the gap and onto the platform of an even stiller world. I imagine my reaction had I been sleeping and cringe at the thought of pulling away from her and missing such a beautiful lesson.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
"I was looking for a moment. I was looking for a moment and I wasn't finding it. I was looking for this. There is love here. It's in the nature. It's all about this moment. What the fuck is going on in Ibiza, you know what I mean?" -- the world, Africa