Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Missing things you never had

I lay in my bed, listening to the night sounds. It seems my neighbor kids are running a marathon up the stairs, somebody honks a horn. My dog growls at the night. I listen to my breathing…The smoke alarm tells me again I need to change the battery. The boiler starts again. I drum my fingers at my forehead. Rho is always telling me I need to describe better, with description I can reach those 50000 words. I sneeze. Scratch one side of my head. I wonder. My toes are numb. I have to describe better, she says. My room is blue, like the sky in my country. The sky in here is gray. I hanged curtains a couple of months ago they don’t block the sunlight completely, that is the best alarm in the world. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and I still don’t know if I’m going to a couple of invitations I received. Looking back I don’t remember a single Thanksgiving Day with my mom and dad. I know they celebrated it because I have a picture of my dad pointing to a turkey with a knife in his hand. He looks happy, at least in the picture. I wonder if he is having turkey tomorrow or if he is grateful for his life. Oh, I just remembered, he is a Jehovah Witness now so he doesn’t celebrate the Holidays. I’m sure my mom is having turkey at lunch. Her husband likes to cook so she will only wash the dishes. My relationship with her is kind of stranded but I remember with kindness the last time I saw her. She cooked pork chops for me and she was very proud I enjoyed them. What is this I’m feeling right now?…Yes is a very recurrent nostalgia, missing those things that I never had.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I miss the salty smell of the sea. I miss going with my father to watch action movies I don't care about but go to see anyway for the sake of sharing with him. I miss the rice with corn that my Aunt Sara Awilda cooks. I miss a Saturday movie at Fine Arts and buying a chocolate chip cookie at the jewish pharmacy. I miss walking at el Paseo de Diego with all the shops where you can buy from a cell phone to a fake Coach hand bag. I miss that longing of running towards something unreachable.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swimming with Jaws

My father never considered the rating of an R movie an obstacle for me to watch it. I was around eight and I was sitting in a theater watching Jason cut some heads and impale a couple of teenagers in bed. Blood and violence never scared me. So when my father took me to watch Jaws we never thought it will impact me but it did. I’m still scared of the heart beat when the shark is about to attack. I remember being awake in bed, listening to the water pipes, thinking Jaws was going to come inside the pipes and eat me. But I had a defense plan, when Jaws will break the pipes I would yell to the top of my lungs. Then my mother and father will come to save me. I would push my mom to Jaws’s mouth to distract him and then I would run and go to a safe place with my dad. I’m conscious my therapist would enjoy to make something out about my relationship with my mother. After Jaws, I was never able to look at the beach without thinking about that shark waiting to eat people. I never felt comfortable enough to learn to swim. And that in the place a grew up is a sacrilege. I grew up in Isabela, Puerto Rico, a place where the beach was less than 15 minutes away. Jobos, a beach known because of surfing tournaments, was one of my father favorites. My brothers learn to swim unless me. My father never taught me to swim, maybe because I will get kind of hysterical each time I saw a wave and couldn’t stand water in my face. So I never learned. I enjoy kayaking and this past summer bought one and people get shocked when I tell them I don’t know how to swim. I guess that is one of the things you cannot teach yourself to do.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Table

When I was living with my parents we had a dining table. It was round and my mother covered it with tablecloths that changed according to her moods and the season. The dining table always had a flower pot in the center but what made this dining table particular and different was that nobody dined on it. I misbehaved often so I ate in my room most of the time. My father was seldom on time for dinner and the only one that sat at the table was my mother, by herself. The family didn’t.
When I was 8 I started living with my grandmother. She had a big oval dining table. She crocheted a tablecloth following a complicated pattern and in the center was a big fruit basket ceramic figure she bought at a Turkish store. This table wasn’t all that different from the one at my parent’s house. Nobody sat down to eat. My grandma used to eat her dinner with her hands out of a bowl kneeling in the kitchen. I sat on the floor besides her with my plate in my hands. The table was an accessory to fill up an empty space, nothing more.
I grew up and moved into countless rooms, apartments, houses or plain places in which having a table would be a great privilege. Finally I bought my own house. The previous neighbors left a small table, a rectangular one with two chairs. I’m not refined enough to put fresh cut flowers or crochet a tablecloth, but this table has something that sets it apart from all the others. I sit down to have dinner, to read, to work on my homework and even write. It’s good to finally have a table put to its proper use in my life.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The right way to make “sofrito”

We buried Mom a month ago. Everything was so emotional. At 89 Mom turned to the church after decades of not setting a foot in a temple. I guess she was working for a ticket to heaven. What she liked the most about church was being part of the chorus. Her friends from church sang her favorite hymns. When we were kids she will sang to us old love songs, the one you can hear at a Saturday morning at an elderly home. She had a great memory. She only needed to hear a song one time and that was it, she had it in her memory. When most of her friends started to suffer from Alzheimer she got obsessed to proof that her memory was as good as it was when she was 20. She started to memorize dates, only useful for her grandchildren Social Studies classes. One day she read somewhere about a study which linked Alzheimer and aluminum. She called me and my brothers to make us throw away all our kitchen accessories that were made with aluminum because she was positive that was the reason of memory loss. We are hold our ground and didn’t please her. When I visited her the next day, all the pots and pans made of aluminum were in the curb. All the pots she used when we were growing up.
I had to took her to the mall to buy new pots. That day she wasn’t her old self. She was sad because she didn’t like the new pots but she was scared of using aluminum and losing her memory.
- I cooked in those pots for 25 years. Every single meal I gave to you, your father and brothers came from those. Now I had to throw them away.-she started sobbing a little. She asked me if I still made my own “sofrito”. The “sofrito” is a fresh blend of chopped garlic, onion, peppers, cilantro and coriander.
-Mom I don’t have time anymore. I buy it from the store-
-From the store?-she sighed- The one you buy in the supermarket is not clean. They even blend rotten ingredients. What a shame! All your generation will die because having things too fast and easy. Take me to the Farmer’s Market to buy the ingredients for the “sofrito”.
I took her because I really wanted to get over with it, go home and do my daily chores around the house. She made me pick the reddest peppers to make sure the “sofrito” came up very dark. The onions had to be firm and big. She didn’t give up when I tried to convince her about buying already pealed garlic.
-No way. Peeling them yourself makes the fresher “sofrito”. Plus you don’t know if who peel that washed their hands after using the restroom.-
I gave in and she smile her victory. We spent the rest of the afternoon peeling, chopping and crushing ingredients in the blender. We filled up several empty butter bowls with “sofrito”. We shared memories of all the picnic we had together and even the day Dad burned the turkey and we spent Thanksgiving at a fast food. At the end we were tired and smelling somewhat garlicky I had to go back home. She hugged me and gave me the “sofrito”.
-There is one way of doing things, the right way. It may take longer but is better. This is the way to make “sofrito”. I hope nobody takes the pots from the trash and die from Alzheimer. It will be better if you throw away your pots too.-
-Mom that’s a little bit over the top. We will be fine. We know what we are doing.-
-I just want the best for all of you because I love you that’s all.-
-You worry too much. See you tomorrow.-
The next morning her neighbor called to tell me she was taken in an ambulance. At the table there was several bowls of “sofrito” labeled for each of us. The service to bury her was pretty simple. All her friends came over to show condolences. Her sister came from the United States. The casket was closed as she wanted and we placed a picture we took last Mother’s Day. She loved us and was the best mother we could wish. I wonder if my kids know how much I love them and care for them.
-Gabriel and Alejandro, get dressed we are out of “sofrito” and we need to make more.-

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What’s my name?

My name is the desire,
snaking up your back.
My name is seven inches of separation between your legs.
My name is what you whisper,
when everything else disappears.
My name is the last thing,
you pronounce before falling asleep.
My name, baby
what’s my name

Saturday, July 17, 2010


The end is the snowball downhill,
so many incomplete sentences.