Wednesday, February 1, 2012


When you move inevitably things will get lost. Some times it is that wonderful purple dress you loved to wear, or the dragonfly clip that always got caught in your hair. One day they are there, the next day while sifting through memories and treasures locked away for safe keeping they are gone, so you are forced to let those things go. Then as if by magic a pair of zebra striped sneakers appears. No one knows who they belong to. No one knows where the sneakers came from; you only know that they fit. So, you carry on in your new zebra striped sneakers as you walk against the curve of the earth; toward who knows where and when you’ll stop.



For the past five years I have lived in St. Thomas. Like any place that I have lived in long enough I’ve come to appreciate and respect the good along with the bad. In many ways I am reminded of La Plata in Argentina. La Plata is a university town where people are constantly passing through. St Thomas is not a university town but people are passing through just the same. Because of this it takes time and effort to find sure footing in the community. The locals are used to people leaving after awhile and therefore they do not invest that much in getting to know someone who will probably be leaving in the next couple of months.

Many of these passersby are tourists who have fallen in love with its charm move down unaware that the charm they fell in love with during their vacation is very different to the struggles of everyday island life. Many of them hide themselves behind the monochromatic “safety” of a gated community. Others don’t make it past the six-month mark, and an unfortunate few get caught up in the subcultures of the alcoholics, and drug abusers. Then there are those who embrace the virgin isle with all its issues and find a way to integrate themselves into the beauty of every day life, they learn the nuances of the seasonal shifts. They understand that these seasons are not measured in the color of the leaves but in the traditions of the people and the gathering for events that occur each year without fail. The past is remembered in the colored lights of carnival, and the carols sung for Christmas sunrise in emancipation garden. Faith communities encounter each other on the streets and walk together in procession for Easter until they reach the crossroads where they part ways in order to reach their places of worship, and when one of the faithful passes on, even the shops on Main street will shut their doors out of respect as the body is walked by them to the cemetery.

Seasons come and go here like the tourists on the cruise ships. Tourists however, are another tour de force with in themselves. In the early hours they arrive and pour into the city like cattle in droves ushered toward our most beautiful beaches, hot spots and duty free shopping centers. They fill the streets of town and keep the economy going as they indulge themselves. Then as the sun dips toward the horizon the bull horns echo up hill calling them back to the ship, until the streets are empty once more and the world is left quiet and the sky turns dark blue.

These things and many more, I see from my house, half way up the hill.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where I want to be someday...

Describe yourself at age ninety.

I woke up this morning ninety years old, wearing a charcoal colored, cotton, nightgown, and I was happy to be in the comfort of my own home. I stretched my wrinkled arms and legs and slowly made my way to the bathroom. I stare at myself in the mirror and everything is wrinkled at ninety, even the parts I forget I have, like that little stretch of skin between my back and my underarms, or that scar above my lip I always hope no one will notice. My hair is like a knotted wrap that sprouts from my temple, hugs my shoulders, and touches my fingertips as the ends sway back and forth like tassels down my back. Its length weighs it down, so that after being brushed it looks almost straight. I smile at myself in the bathroom mirror, because, in spite of my many years, I still have my own teeth. My ears got longer though, but my hearing hasn’t improved much. Fortunately, everyone in my family is boisterous and loud. I often hear them laughing in their house across the lawn, or singing for me when they decide to stop by.

“Abueeeeeeela, Graaaaaaandma.” they call, and it is always music to my ears. My mornings however, are spent in contemplative silence. I like to keep life simple, so I make my way from the bathroom to the kitchen barefoot. It is too hot for shoes, and the tile floor is cool to the touch. My love is waiting for me in the kitchen. He quietly reads a paperback book he has folded open with one hand and sips coffee from the mug he has in the other. I have never been much of a coffee drinker, so I put hot water on the stove for my peppermint tea. My husband looks at me other the top of his book with smiling eyes and softly hums the melody to the song “Amanece” which means to rise in the morning.

It takes me a little longer to wake up in the mornings than it used to. When I was little I had to make an extra effort when making the transition from the dream world to reality, but now I can take my time. I don’t have to worry about getting the kids up and ready anymore, and the neighborhood children do not come by for specials until after three. The kettle cries out, “teeeeeea!” and I pour the hot water into my favorite emerald green mug. I sit next to my husband in a square wooden chair, at the square wooden table, in the middle of our kitchen. “Good morning my love” I say as the warm peppermint tea settles gently in my stomach. He leans over and kisses me on the shoulder and says good morning as well. A few minutes pass and as I get up to wash my cup in the sink I can see a rain cloud pass over our house through the glass window. The sun brings shines through the first rain of spring, and the droplets are like little diamond treasures taken in by the earth. I go outside because it is good luck to get wet in the first rain of spring. Not thirty seconds go by when I hear my granddaughter run into her back yard toward our house yelling.

“ Grandpa! Why do you let her do that? She’ll get sick!” but he just smiles.

“ Mija, since when has she done what I tell her to? Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she takes a warm shower and dries up good ok?”

My granddaughter built our house for us in her back yard, so we would be close to family. I know she means well but she needs to learn to unplug herself and enjoy what is in front of her. I wish she would dance in the rain and talk to the animals and the plants. I offered to teach her once. I am sure she thinks I am crazy. Maybe I am, but at least I am happy.