Dripping River Water


seeking the lesson September 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:12 pm
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There are places where I don’t like to walk alone in Oakland. Growing up in Brooklyn I only avoided desolate industrial areas like in Williamsburg. I walked up and down streets all hours of the night. I learned to be hard. I learned to be guarded. Even when I sensed danger I felt safe. It was home.

I don’t like not having a car in Oakland. It means that sometimes I am trapped on top of this hill not wanting to go out late at night. The buses never come and I may encounter the mean bus driver. I take public transportation and I count the days till I am back in Brooklyn. I don’t like to take the 57 at night. Don’t like the MacArthur station. I told my friend this and she asked, why that’s where I live? I used to live by there, too and I didn’t like it then. I can deal with a lot of things but the dicombabulation of people when they are on drugs and alcohol is one I can’t deal with. I feel their souls waiting to be free.

Meadow was with me. We chanced waiting for the bus together. And we waited, then looked at the bus schedule. 15 more minutes. Not bad. And we waited. Then a man came and sat next to me and told me my hair was thick and curly. I told him I wasn’t interested in talking with him. And maybe I could have said things differently. I prefer to be honest even if it’s brutal. But maybe I could have said it differently because for the next 45 minutes he sat next to me and harassed me.

Supposedly, I am not from Brooklyn, I am not a woman, I am a misfit in California, I don’t know how to talk to Black men, I am a mother because of my body language and I am not true to myself.

I tried to be clear with him. Tried to tell him, look at the time, it doesn’t feel comfortable when a strange man sits next to me and starts talking to me. I should have told him that it doesn’t feel safe because he smells like alcohol. I tried to look into his eyes and wonder where this pain was coming from to see why he wouldn’t stop talking to me. I asked him plenty of times to leave me alone and then finally I ignored him.  I told him before I would do it so he would be prepared.  I looked straight ahead. My foot rocked back and forth. I was mad and calm and mad and calm. I was cold and I hated that I didn’t have a car. I missed Brooklyn. I wondered if this was like having asthmatic bronchitis before I left Brooklyn. Was this a way to kick me out.

There were other people there. A woman that got up and walked away. A man that got up and walked away. A man that just stood looking for the bus to come. it came late. 30 minutes late. Late enough for me to wonder the lesson in this. He told me if I would have told him, get the fuck away from me, he would have respected that. And I remembered teaching seventh graders Spanish. I remember how I tried to do things differently. I tried to be open. I tried not to be like the teachers I had in Catholic school. I tried and they never listened. I tried and they would interrupt everything. I tried and then I got frustrated and then I got firm, and yelled and they all sat up quietly and listened. And I couldn’t believe that he would rather me yell at him then tell him the truth directly in conversation.

There was peace within me for the most part. He was in pain he needed to talk. He probably saw my openness and love and I shot him down. Everyone has the right to happiness. He was making sure I wasn’t gonna have mine maybe because I didn’t give him his. And as he sat there and harassed me I was thankful that I had lived in California for three years because if this would have happened in NY while I was still living there I would have hit him. I’m being honest.

I thought it could go either way when I went through my bag and opened my book. I am reading a biography on the Prophet Muhammad and at that moment I needed him so bad. One, two, three more sentences. He asked me what I was reading. I read. Then after telling me how bad I was he said something that made me laugh. I had to laugh. I had to. And that is all he wanted.  Me to smile. 45 minutes later I realized he just wanted me to smile at him. He wanted someone to be nice to him. The way he went about it was wrong. The way I didn’t understand it all was wrong, too.

I try really hard to be a good person. To be true to myself and honest with everyone around me. I pray, I meditate, I am giving, I love. And with all of that I still don’t listen to it all. I don’t completely understand. When I was growing up my mami always kept change in her pocket. She taught me to do the same. She taught me to help others. Our home was for everyone who needed it, we went places to take care. She taught me to open and giving. And as I got older I knew I couldn’t give money to everyone. And I told myself if I can’t give money I would give a smile. This man sat next to me and didn’t ask me for money. He just told me he liked me because my hair was thick and curly. I could have just smiled. Maybe that would have opened up another can of worms but I am still trying to figure out the lesson in all of this.

After he finally left me alone.  After he told me his message to me that I should just be pretty and laugh, that I should comb my hair because its nappy, everyone who walked away came back and commented on the situation.  No one stood up for me.  No one told him to leave me alone.  They all commented on how annoying he was and they didn’t get the brunt of it.  I wanted to scold all of them because if it was me in their situation I would have said something.  And I am not just saying it.  I always open my big mouth and sometimes it gets me into near death situations.  I don’t want to be a martyr but I can’t let things slide either.  

I am fortunate.  I am trying to see every moment as a blessing.  Every moment as a lesson.  I will always be learning how to operate in this world.

the end.


part of my work September 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:19 pm
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I’ve been told that the physical distance between my parents and I is preparation for me to understand how it will be when they go back home.  When they are no longer in this world.  When I will no longer be able to touch them, hear their voices over the phone, miss them because they are in Florida.  This is preparation for when they leave their bodies, go back home and visit me as spirits.  

I was told this after I decided that I need to make another plan for the fall.  I no longer can afford to go to Morocco to learn Arabic.  My options are to stay here in Oakland and work, wondering what taking risks looks like.  Or I could go to Florida, not Miami but Spring Hill where there are rows and rows of strip malls.  Where kids hang out in the Burger King parking lots.  Where I would have to accompany my papi to WalMart, Target and Costco.  This is where I will learn to live with my papi again, we haven’t since I was eleven.  Papi is retired and still works at my brother’s restaurant.  He works the mornings the best time for me to write.  I will be able to spend my days writing and learning what it means to be part of my family again.  This is the new plan but sometimes God and I aren’t on the same plan, so we will see.

My papi just came back from Cuba and when he leaves the country I miss him the most.  I miss the ability to talk with him.  Listen to his stories, exchange advice.  If I finish writing my book that involves my childhood, the stories where everyone thinks my papi is bad, bad, bad, I will have to show what I’ve always wanted to show, change is possible, we can all make better choices.  My father is the best father I could ever have.  I am blessed to have him in my life.  They say that we pick our parents.  I understand why I picked him.

His partner went back to Cuba.  They spent about seven months together the longest since he left Cuba to move to this country.  The longest since it’s been just them.  Before, when they first met, my papi was married to my mami.  His relationship was an affair, she is something like his second wife.  I’ve never been happy with this situation but what can do?  It has been so long, I have to accept things as they are.  She is my papi’s partner.  So, I asked him how he felt about her being back in Cuba.  He said he was fine, they have a relationship but she has her life and he has his.  This is a good way to look at it.  I wonder how I can learn more from their relationship when I envision a partnership for myself.

I am perfect by myself.  All the work I have done to be a better person, to follow my path, to do the work I need to do in this world is moving.  But I realize that when I am with others I am triggered.  And although I am better there is a selfishness.  Meadow, my good friend from college just moved out to Oakland.  She is my roommate for the month and it has been great.  With her I learn that when I am eating dinner with someone at the table I just can’t stand up and try on my new gold shoes.  With her I learn to make space in my closets.  I am learning to spend lots of time with another person, something that I have gotten away with not doing for years.

I am going to live with my papi and spend time with my mami because I believe this will be the blessing I need to really move forward.  I don’t believe I will be able to do my work on this earth by myself.  I will be able to give more with a partner, a family, friends and community.  Being with my birth family will give me the opportunity to heal the places that need to be healed.  I can not fully start something wounded.  I want to be more than whole.

I am trying to view everything spiritually.  Every moment is a blessing, every moment is a learning lesson, every moment can bring me closer to my purpose.

the end.