I done been some places…that’s for sure. 3 continents to be exact…so far. I done drank tea out of little hot glasses with out handles on the side to grab them. I done stayed up all night with a mother of 6, lucky enough to be the only one in her attention. I done stayed up all night crying and telling her everything that every happened between me and her only son, telling her all about why I left him, why it was so hard, but why I had to do it. I done poured my heart to a woman in Africa whose son hadn’t been home in ten years, in another language. It would have been hard enough in English…but no, some conversations need more than your native tongue.
I done been 21 and real skinny, thought I was on the top of the world pretty…I wish it for everyone though, to know for a time in their life that they are young and beautiful and nothing will ever be like that again. Regardless of the fact I was living out of a bag that I currently use to carry my teaching books in and out of the center that I work at. And that bag…I can’t hardly tell you about the bag, I’ll try:
She wanted to meet me somewhere because she had a present for me. An apartment warming gift, so we met, on a random bench in St. Germaine. We smoked LM cigarettes, the ones in the blue box. She gave me my bag then…it has a tribal motif on it, yellow and orange interspersed with black geometric patterns. The handles are padded, actually the whole bag is, kind of. It fits more than it looks like it can. It was meant to be a market bag…there’s an inside pocket where I can keep change and loose dollar bills. That bag broke my heart…I can’t get into all that now, just know this, it was meant to be a market bag for my new living arrangement in the Marais, but that fell through…so it never got used like that, not in Paris anyways. Instead I ended up carrying my daily necessities with me. All over the streets, I think it might have been on my shoulder when he grabbed me by the back of my head and slammed it into a brick wall, oh yeah, I told you I been places…gone through shit. So the bag did eventually get used as a market bag, in fact I have five years insisted on that. It just so happens that right now I don’t live in the Marais (although I’m trying to get back there!), but I can walk to a weekly outdoor market. I am thankful for that…it makes my heart happy every once in a while. I always take my market bag, Finally it’s purpose is fulfilled. Although the weight of my teaching books are gonna break the handles soon and I know it.
I been other places too. …I took a train to Prague once and had an affair with a man I didn’t know, he was very kind and I remember the experience as very pleasant. We laughed and spoke to each other in different languages because we barely had a common one. We sat separately on the way there but very much together on the way back to Berlin. We stared at each other’s reflection in the glass of the luggage rack above our head. I told him things on that train ride that I still to this day haven’t ever told anyone, like what I used to think about when I got myself off. I didn’t have anything to loose. He couldn’t help but become enamored with me and beg of my companionship. He had a good job and an apartment in Berlin, but it was never meant to be for more than a weekend. I was still married then and had a boyfriend waiting on me in Paris. Funny thing though, both of us ended up back over on this side of the pond for the next three years of our lives. I went back to Europe with a friend just to make sure that any bit of my life there had ever really happened. I went to a new city I had never been, Barcelona. I thought of him there, the Prague affair. I thought of him so much that I was compelled to tell my friend every detail of the days we spent together. We were standing on a street and I asked her to stop walking so that I could just tell her what had happened. I looked up and there was an internet café that I compulsively entered and wrote an e-mail to him. I composed it in Spanish because I had since learned it…these are the e-mails that followed that: (I had them translated online)
Pepe I am in Spain and it enchants much to me. It was thinking of you because this vacation is my first in three years since I was in Europe. As How is your life now? I do not want to return in the states. Still living in Brazil with your fiancèe? I quit my boyfriend from Mexico because we wanted different things. You know as I am, I want to live in Europe and want to always travel. I feel it is the case my Spanish is not very well, but way better than before. I am in Barcelona, was in valence, Madrid, Malaga, Meurrocos and I go today to Paris. Well, I hope that all this good with you. Write me if you want.
It is incredible! I went to east Barcelona weekend that your you were there and I thought that I had seen you in the street but later I reasoned and as knew that you were in the United States I really did not think that you were your, and now that you say to me that you were there that probably I saw you. That badly that I did not speak to you!!! but already no way! That’s good that you are doing what you like, and for your boyfriend I can say that at least you learned Spanish. Now I am in Amsterdam, I came to visit my sister who has been living for a year here, has a boyfriend and seems here that they live happy together. Sunday I go Berlin with my girlfriend so that it is of there, I took a rest from the work and am going to see if encounter there a work in Berlin or probably study something. If you go to Berlin you could see us, that would be pleasant to me. I believe that I am going to be until end of Julio probably until August end. A kiss! Pp
That’s life for you folks.
But I’ve been more places than that…I once had to run through the streets at midnight in Mexico, dodging bullets. It was New Year’s eve, exactly midnight…gunshots ringing out every where, I ran with my palms turned skyward and covering the crown of my head. That was scary too. I laid in a room for over a week. I called my daddy to say goodbye because I thought I was dying. He threatened me with coming to Mexico to beat up my illness. I got better, he stayed in Georgia. I went back, to Mexico, with a different boy, as a different girl. We rented a cabin on the beach and quarantined ourselves from the rest of the world. We spent long afternoons laying in the hammock, sometimes quite…sometimes letting the toxins out. We cooked and laughed and fought and swam and played cards and read books. I have a scar on my right breast from the first night we got there, neither one of us know from what?
We took busses all over the country. We liked Mexico City the best. The place everyone told us not to go was the only place we wanted to be. We held hands and chased each other through the metro stations. Mexico did that to us, the city where everyone is laughing or crying or kissing or listening to music or eating or begging. We both had our music contraptions and set out all over the city by train, face to face in crowded metro cars, arms wrapped around each other with our hands stuck in each others pockets.
So many places…