A Party in the Clouds

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Happy birthday Momma!

I’m not sure if they throw birthday parties in heaven, but if they do… I’m sure yours will be going all night long.

Knowing you, you’ll have the whole place dancing and eating your enchiladas tonight.

Mmmm. I’d probably shoot someone for a plate of your enchiladas Ma. Not like murder… just a clean shot in the foot or something.

50 years old.

Wow.

What happened to us? Treinta y cincuenta, ya somos viejitos.

I don’t feel thirty Ma. How does fifty feel? My friend Florence gave me a lovely photograph of Frida Kahlo on my birthday and I put it on my wall. She hangs proudly, donning her traditional Mexican garb, and I think of you every time my eye catches hers.

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long, it’s been a busy year. I made it to Mexico and visited La Virgen just like I promised.

Guess what? I’m back in Barcelona, I told you how much I loved it in my last letter, remember? For some reason, I can feel your presence much more here. Maybe it’s the moon. She seems to shine extra bright in this city by the sea. Or maybe it’s the café con leche. Sometimes I get up early and walk the narrow allies of the Barri Gótic on my way to the gym, the sweet smell drifts from the cafés and I think of you.

Can you believe Rigo is getting married? Did you get your invitation yet? Mine took over a week to get to Spain, so I’d imagine yours taking at least two. Do you remember when we all met Patricia at Julie’s 50th? She told me the sweet things you said about me that night, it made me cry. I think she was made for my little brother, she cooks him sopa and makes it to mass every Sunday.

I’ve been learning so much in school Ma, my grad program is quite challenging. My colleagues are from all over the world and so brilliant. There’s even a Mexicano in my class… Ricardo. You would like him. He says my Spanish sucks, I need to keep practicing.

I could not have picked a better time to study abroad. The solidarity and passion I encounter in my classrooms give me hope during these turbulent times. There is hope in the youth. It seems as though I’ve learned as much from my peers as I have from my professors. We are all very close. I wanted them to experience a Thanksgiving like we used to have, so I pre-ordered a 20 pound turkey at La Boqueria and we had a beautiful dinner. Before we ate, I lit a candle and asked everyone to share what they were grateful for, just like you used to.

They loved it.

Afterwards they all made me pose for pictures as I carved the bird. I was pretty nervous as this was my first time preparing a turkey. When I went to cut into the breast I almost lost my breath… there was no meat! I felt a thousand eyes watching as I desperately made a mess of the poor turkey, knifing and slicing to no avail. A bead of sweat rolled down my temple as I switched sides, hoping she was a bit lop-sided… nothing! I heard one of my classmates whisper to her friend, “Ese pavo no tiene carne.” My Canadian friend tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could help. I handed over the knife in shame. My attempt to share a beautiful American tradition had gone down in flames. First Trump, now this. Oh ya! I didn’t tell you about Trump. You wouldn’t believe me if I did Ma.

Dejected, I watched as Hervé took my place at the head of the table. But he couldn’t find any meat either! I was so relieved. Suddenly, I knew what the problem was. I rushed over, pushed Hervé to the side and grabbed the turkey by one of the drumsticks with my barehand. Hervé caught on and helped me lift the treacherous fowl, when we flipped the turkey over our friends let out a gasp. I had cooked her upside down! I took that knife back and sliced my heart away. You would have laughed so hard. It turned out to be a fruitful mistake though, the meat was so juicy and tender. You would have been proud. Maybe next year I’ll try your stuffing. Liz is the only one who can make it like you did.

Anyways, I should wrap this up… you have a party to get ready for. I just want to let you know how much you are loved down here. Not a day passes without someone speaking your name and sharing your story. I feel so fortunate and proud to be your son, everyday. Every single day. I try and live up to those mountainous standards you held me to, to be the man you thought I could be, mostly I fall short. But I’ll keep trying Ma.

Happy birthday.

Love you more,

Aaron

P.S. I almost forgot! I wrote story about you and your lover boy Steve Garvey. It got published on Mother’s Day and thousands of people read and shared it. Dad was pretty proud. You got so many Likes on Facebook, we all know you loved the Likes. Okay bye, have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Letter From the Road

Komo en Kasa... my favorite café in Barcelona
Komo en Kasa… my favorite café in Barcelona

 

Hey Ma,

I’ve been trying to call, but I think heaven has a crappy wifi connection.

I think you can hear me, but your voice is mostly muffled.

Sometimes I get lucky and the signal is strong and I can hear you so clearly it’s as if you’re all around me.

Those are the best days, but they don’t come often.

So I figured I’d write you a letter.

My journey has been amazing so far. Spain is beautiful. Did you know tortillas are something completely different out here? They’re like a potato omelet with eggs and onion. I ordered some tortillas at a restaurant and when the camarero brought out this thing that looked like an egg pie, I was so confused. But they’re pretty good, I think you’d like them.

Do you remember that Rage Against the Machine shirt you used to wear with Che Guevara on the front? I need to buy that shirt. Anyways, Che used to write his ma from the road too. While traveling across South America he wrote,

Querida viejita,

What do we leave behind when we cross a frontier? Everything seems split in two. Melancholy for what is left behind, and the excitement of entering a new land.

I can relate to the dichotomy, and it made me think of you. I experience things out here and the only person that would be excited to hear them is you. The road can be lonely. But so can life.

Travelling is very much like life. I anticipate the unknown with enthusiasm, the crisp unwritten page of a new day. But my soul also yearns for the comfort and familiarity of yesterday. I cling to sweet memories of days I can never relive. Days when I could pick up the phone and hear your voice. When I could tell you about my day or take you out for coffee. Remember when that waiter thought we were a couple? You were so happy because he thought you were my age. I thought it was pretty weird.

I travel through space and time as I travel the world. My mind lives in the present, my heart beats in the past. A modern day Doc Brown, without the DeLorean. The closest thing we had was your strawberry Dodge Neon that you used to let me and my brothers drive. The radiator was shot and it would overheat in the Arizona sun, so we could only drive it at night. The Night Rider. I don’t think she could hit 88, not even on her best day.

I love my new surroundings. The sounds, the tastes, the people. I walk the Spanish streets with eyes wide open and a smile on my face. I found a cool little café that I know you’d love. I sit on the window sill and write in the afternoon sun.

There is so much to see in Barcelona, but when the rush of fresh stimuli subsides, my gaze always drifts to the West.

Home calls.

And sometimes I wonder…where is home? When was home?

Home is in the past. No Neon or DeLorean can take me there. So I’ll stay on the road for a while longer.

My Spanish is getting better Ma, and I’ve been making it to mass every Sunday. I think you’d be proud.

I’ve also been thinking that you would have wanted me to go to Mexico and visit the Basilica de La Virgencita. I’ll try my best. I saw a stained glass window of her in an old Spanish cathedral the other day. The rays of the setting sun illuminated her cloak and she was beautiful.

Well, it’s time to run Ma. I’m off to meet some friends for tapas.

Love you,

Aaron

 

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