Friday, August 23, 2013

Wild grapes that taste like sage and manzanas de oro  (thanks to Adolfo)

Each generation recounts its marvels to the next one. This is how the world assimilates change. An ongoing narrative of the wonders that existed—that are now stories, that are now fables. 
At least, that was what I was thinking as I walked home down the main road from my friend Bally’s house, trading holas and saludos with the people gathered along the side of the road, watching the world go by. Inexplicably, a young woman separates from her posse, holding a red hibiscus out to me as I pass. “For me?” I say. “Yes—one rose for another,” she responds. “Gracias, amor,” I say—the classic endearment, thrown around freely but always somehow sounding sincere. The first time I’ve used it. 
I felt surrounded by goodwill—begin with a smile, says my world-traveling, culturally literate dad. I’ve fine-tuned the smile so it doesn’t register provocative. 
I’ve grown more and more addicted to the challenge of living outside my familiar, the constant challenges that come from incomplete understanding, a lack of routine. The world bending and shaping me in its image.
My Spanish teacher Bienvenido is my confessor. For over a year now, we’ve sat together, an hour or two in some restaurant or one of our houses—the lesson a safe space, almost clinical, in which to trade cultural stereotypes. To tell each other what we really think. To get answers.
I sleep deeply now, like I remember doing as a teenager. Deep in a dream, I hear someone saying, “Mom, mom.” I half open my eyes. It’s Tallulah. “Why are you calling me mom?” I ask. Feeling bewildered, even a little bit cornered. “Because you are.” “Oh,” I respond, deciding not to argue the point. As if I were someone’s mom. What a crazy notion.
  I have the sense that I might wake up in my dream world, or be dreaming in my waking life. Too much Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, read aloud at bedtime?

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