Lejos de ti

For the past six weeks, I’ve been obsessed with Carla Morrison’s “Compartir” thanks to NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast.

The night before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t sleep. I listened to Alt.Latino once again. This was the second show in a few weeks that the hosts had mentioned Morrison and played her music. Her previous songs hadn’t struck me like “Compartir.” I immediately got out of bed and downloaded the album, Mientras Tu Dormías.

For the next few days, I listened to “Compartir” at least five times a day and translated the lyrics so I could share the song with Sean. She was singing to me. She was singing about our bicoastal relationship.

***

I left New York just a few hours ago. Sean rented a ZipCar and drove me out to JFK as usual. We kissed, hugged and he wished me a safe trip. This goodbye was different, as we both know that in just a short week, Sean will be at JFK boarding a flight for LAX himself. He won’t be coming back to NY on Sunday night as usual and our bicoastal relationship will be over.

We’ll finally be together in the same time zone, same city… just a few miles away from each other.

***

No es tan fácil estar tan lejos de ti

That part of “Compartir” will no longer apply, but the rest will still be perfect.

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Balance

By the end of the fireworks show, I was crying. They weren’t big tears. I don’t think Alan, Danny or Lori even noticed. During the show, they were fixated on the sky like everyone else on Main Street. Afterward, we rushed through Main Street trying to beat the throngs exiting the park.

No one asked why I was wiping away tears. I’m still not sure how I can explain it. There’s the easy answer: I’m a sucker for Disney music and classics like “When You Wish Upon a Star” backed by fireworks get to me, just like the Disney Imagineers intended. That’s part of it, of course, but the music and show were just a backdrop to my own feelings about where I’m at in my life right now.

I’m far from finishing graduate school. Last year, I dropped out of a boot camp to work on my dissertation proposal before the first meeting. That set the tone for the academic year. I didn’t make any progress on my proposal, avoided meeting with my advisor and only stepped into the Moore Hall, home of the education department, to visit friends. I skipped the graduation ceremony as I didn’t want to be reminded that I was so off track. I’m unsure of what this next year brings. I’d like to take a year off, but this depends on my advisor’s approval.

Three years ago, a similar situation had me depressed and miserable. This time around, it hardly bothers me. What little anxiety I feel about school is offset by the great feelings I get when I think about others areas of my life. I’m happy and healthier than I’ve been in my adult life. I know I can count on my family, boyfriend and close friends for support or just to lend an ear.

I’m not sure what comes next. I’m okay with that.

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El Susto

Each day I describe the accident a few times to family, friends, co-workers, insurance, my doctor, etc.

They ask, “What happened?”

I’ll describe the little I saw. I leave out the sounds (a deafening crash, the popping of airbags, Los Lobos on the CD player, my cell phone ringing, sirens) and smell (something burnt).

“Are you okay?” they’ll asked with genuine concern.

“Yeah,” I’ll say and then sigh. I show them the the marks on my chest and forearms from the seat belt and airbag, respectively. Those scars and bruises are the only sign I was in an accident.

They’ll respond with something like, “well, the important thing is that you’re safe. Your car can be replaced, but you can’t.”

I look okay, but don’t feel that way.

The susto lingers.

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Fotos y recuerdos

The Friday after Jose’s untimely death some friends gathered to create a collage of photos to display during the services.

A half dozen women cropped and trimmed photos and laid them out on a large poster board. The two guys stood back awkwardly. One suggested outlining the black letters of Jose’s name in silver. I might have cracked a Raiders joke. I don’t remember.

The collage making was bittersweet. We laughed a little, nobody cried. Five days after we’d received the news, we had used up all our tears. When the jokes and small talk subsided we were left with silence, our own thoughts, and dozens of photos of our always smiling friend.

Jose Luis Vasquez passed away on July 1, 2007.

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