23 May 2012

solemn happy birthday note, pero con amor (21 de Mayo)

at the same time that pop was taking self portrait with sad eyes, he was also taking a photo of me with flared nostrils and oversized sweatshirt. i had no idea what it meant to be, then, an immigrant traveling or maybe living, staying and trying out, experiencing, whatever, another country and its culture. obviously i didn't have to because my job was to be 7, and learn how to read, etc., and to not sense these things was my privilege. i sometimes see pop's trajectory as that of a world tour, but one cannot tour their life, one must live it and in it, and make it, also. it is inevitable that various characters and people become involved in your world tour and their trajectory becomes wrapped up in yours, too, and then you are no longer 24, and the tropics are far behind you, and your Mother becomes a touchstone reachable on sundays by phone and in the fine ink lines of her thorough letters from home. i do not purport to know what it is like to be a man, or a father struggling with all the vices and vexes of love, family, and work in a country not your own, for your children to not know the corners you used to stand on and the streets you used to navigate, nor the friends you've had or the colors that painted you, and i do not think it is easy to work through your demons even as a mature individual, as those demons of all of ours are never 'left' nor left 'behind' - they very much travel with us; an invisible chest of drawers accessible whenever we are feeling curious, or brave. answers do not present themselves, are not found, or arrived at. we all know they are part and parcel of who we are wherever we are. these thoughts have to do with character, with my Father's character, with being one's own person, being one's self and being WITH oneself under whatever sun in whatever light. we move forward but that is to say nothing of the planets we are, ourselves. when the liquor dries up, the kids grow up, and the girlfriends all blend into one composite portrait of unspeakable youth and beauty, we begin to get at ourselves and it is here i feel my Father. i do not say i know him, entirely, because my frame of reference is one fraught with absolute love and absolute absence, but when the inevitable black cloud fluffs up over the english countryside and the rains begin to come as they do every few weeks, i feel him as a human, not as a daughter. i feel him when certain types wrongly identify these weather patterns as dark. when others assume these rains to mean they are in danger, when in fact rain is almost always about cleansing, about passing, about release - and they always open up to a new type of sky.

one of the things i miss most about colombia is how a lot of patios in houses have no roof directly over them. this part of the roof is missing from what would be a living room, so to speak. in this way, one could sit in a chair or pass across the patio from the bathroom to the kitchen with the sky visible from inside. one could nap blissfully while outside their door rain falls heavily onto the smooth tile of the patio and into the thick leaves of the potted plants. one is both inside and out, and the skies clear up as fast as it all fell. there is a definite sadness in looking backwards, but the impetus to look forward, instead, should keep one proud. in my estimation, it is the more powerful gaze.

happy birthday, guapo

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