On the day that I was invited to replace my good friend's no-show little sister at dinner at one of the most renowned French restaurants in New York City (tribeca, serious waiters pushing in chairs, wall paper borrowed from Henry the XIII's chateau, I don't know...) I received an email from my Aunt in Cali sending me her love and reaching out as best she could from the instability of her relatively in-shambles piecemeal of a life that has been, as such, since she was about 19. She knew I was in New York studying. That phrase sounds like a luxury. It is. I know that even though I'm $__,000 in debt, that whatever I have on a daily basis is more than she has on a daily basis. I sent her money a year or so ago, and sent Pablo clothes from Oakland once, but this year, I literally, literally, literally, had nothing to send her. The shout-out from Cali on this day remains with me still because she never asked for money but via our Swiss friend Fabi living in Colombia now, I knew the details of the situation, and they were dire. She attached a photo of Pablo, now 7, taken with a run of the mill digi cam against a typically colorful but devolving piece of architecture somewhere outside of Cali. When I left Cali in 2006 Pablo still carried around some baby weight...he was / always will be / is a beautiful boy, something divine, diviner than the rest of the Borjas. He still had cheeks, he had energy, he looked like a happy baby boy...what do we know at 3 or 4? At the time I thought that he needed to be put into a school like Juilliard IMMEDIATELY, or yes, taken to Cuba with his Mom and Father's family and enroll him in a school for the arts...he was that passionate, mad, natural, talented, special. I even thought that a modeling agency would scoop him up (The Gap and places of that ilk love a tan baby with refined features and light eyes...), but that never went anywhere either...So nothing ever changed, then. It is like he is about to fulfill my Father's prophecy slash fear that at 13 he turns wild and turns his back on being a good kid and a good son as much as he knows how to be in response to ...his good mom...finally sick of the poverty and disorganization of his life that was always kind of on the road, kind of in a house, kind of stabile, kind of manic, kind of tragic, kind of...In the photo she attached he is skinny, holding a flea-infested dog, smiling through grime and busted tennis shoes. For the first time I saw Pablito not as my baby cousin but as a child from a part of the world where children are painfully skinny and people take photos of them because they are skinny and slightly grimy. I am not saying that he isn't fed or that he doesn't shower or that right now perhaps they aren't ok, living with friends in Santa Marta, but that this photo erred a little too much on the side of unrecognizable...I stared at the photo and felt like a piece of shit. If I learned anything in Colombia it was that there was no I, no individual in the house. It was us.
That night I sat at Cafe Bulud / Bouley (?) (grateful...thank you Ms. Garvey! sincerely...!), after having ordered the lobster because I had never had lobster before and I've heard from....well, the collective conscience (excluding Jews) that the shit is fine, tasty, juicy...wealthy, rare, top of the pops! I forced most of it down having a similar reaction to the time I tried oysters...(thank you Ms. Golden!--GIANT oysters) and attempted to finish it out of politeness...I could not. Felt terrible. We know why. The indecency of me sitting there...while the picture of Pablo sits on my plate.