Dripping River Water


August 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 1:28 am
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I met King James today.  He was sitting on the bus stop bench on 40th ST.  He told me he doesn’t like bad people.  I told him, yeah, stay away from bad people.  His hair was white, white, white against his hazelnut brown skin.  I looked at him, some teeth missing, a few wrinkles here and there and I thought, he was good looking once.  I wondered if it was the alcohol on his breath that renamed him King James.

He flies, he told me.  Like the pigeons he feeds.  They know him.  They love him.  All animals do.  And then he told me about his dog that didn’t listen to him and got scratched up by a racoon.  In Berkeley.  Yes, even in Oakland I see racoons run to hide in the sewage.

I ached to write today.  Maybe because the baby didn’t want to take a nap.  He’s sixteen months now and I am teaching him to say please.  More please.  Down please.  Sometimes I hear a thank you.  But next week is my last week with him.  This line of work can be difficult to the heart.  I walk around pushing a stroller and people congratulate me on having beautiful children.  Sometimes it feels like I am acting.  They think I am the mother.

Maybe that is the book that I should be writing: Motherhood without being a mother.  I am like a single mom eight hours a day, I sometimes say.  Last year I had three children.  Hope (3) Ruby (2.5) and Zeke (1.5). We took the BART to Fairyland and walking with two kids in a stroller and the other one on my side or my back can be quite difficult.  We missed the bus and I got all frustrated.  We walked towards the lake and then realized that we missed the bus so we can just take a break and eat our snacks on a bench.  In peace.  I told the kids that and they liked that much better than me being frustrated.  The kids ate and watched the geese go by.  And this older lady came by.  Saw us and the beauty that all these kids had.  And then she turned to me, Different fathers right?  And I laughed and said, yes.  The woman must of thought I was a slut that got impregnated each year by a Chinese man, a White man, and a mixed Black/White man.  I love the Bay Area.

In two weeks I will know what will happen for the rest of my life.  Ok, I am exaggerating.  I will know what will happen for the next several months, insha Allah.  Or at least I will have an idea.  All, I want to do is write.  I want my mornings back so I can write all hours of the night.  I want to sit around and talk about God and words and art and life and the world and everything around like the birds and the stars and the flowers that grow out of concrete.  I want to dip my toes in the ocean and feel the breeze kiss my neck.  I want to say Alhumdullilah, Alhumdullilah, Alhumdullilah ten million times because I am grateful for my existence, even if it was a lil rocky at first.

Breath.  I want all of this.  I’ve been praying for a long time.  And doing something about it, too.   Breath.

The birds are chirping outside.  Maybe they are telling my to clean or just to take it easy.  I am like King James minus the alcohol, the birds know me.

the end.


She’s a saint August 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 7:39 pm
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My mami’s a saint.  Not the kind that needs to be canonized nor is she of porcelain with robes and crowns.  My mami is a walking saint.  

It’s my last day in Florida.  I am actually starting to like this state again.  It’s the clouds.  They are big puffs in shapes of pillows and goats and angels.  It is not just the clouds, really, there is more.  It is the palm trees, the green on various leaves, it is the humidity hugging me so tight, it is the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans, the salsa on the radio,  it is my family.  

I am at the hospital taking care of my papi.  He is across from me asleep.  A tube here, a tube there, tubes everywhere.  Morphine, oxygen, liquids.  He goes through his moments of being in pain.  A press of a button releases morphine.  A press of another button calls the nurse.  This is the nicest hospital I have been in but I feel like I will turn into a fast food junky if I stay any longer.  I had McDonald’s last night because I was sick of the Subway sandwiches and I have gotten hooked on the Starbuck’s Iced Chai Latte with Soy.  Please forgive me I have been away from California too long.  Ok, it’s only been a week but please do forgive me.

I leave tomorrow and my papi will remain in the hospital until he is fully recovered.  I leave and it makes me sad that I can’t afford to stay longer.  My mami who has not been with my papi for the past 23 years will take care of him.  Mami never liked church and doesn’t really believe in organized religion although she says, soy católica a mi manera.  Mami has always told me that her religion is helping others.  That is what she does.  She goes from house to house helping those who are sick.  A month at her friend’s because she had a foot operation.  Over a year while my cousin was sick with lung cancer.  She stayed with her sister after my cousin passed away.  The other sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mami went over there.  My little cousin had to have a tumor removed by her heart.  Where was my mami?  In my cousin’s kitchen making sure the beans were cooked just right.  She goes back and forth and is hardly in her section 8 studio apartment in Little Havana.  My mami is a saint.

When I was little it annoyed me that she took care of so many other people.  I love my mami, really I do but there were ways she didn’t know how to be my mami.  Not the one I needed.  I think I’ve moved on from that.  I think.  Hija eres madre será.  You are a daughter and will be a mother.  That is what she always told me when I misbehaved.  I remember that because perhaps in some way I may fail my child as well.  May I catch myself before it happens or while it is happening.  May she or he not write a blog about how I wasn’t the best mother.  Ameen. 

 I never knew my parents’ relationship to be happy so it has surprised me when she has woken me up in the morning to call the hospital to see how my papi is doing.   I forget, once they were married, once they loved each other, once they had my brother and me.

I pray that my mami never gets sick because who would take care of her the way she takes care of other people.  I would, of course, she is my mami, but we don’t have the same calling.  I stayed at my papi’s place the night of his surgery.  I was alone in the apartment while my oldest brother’s house was filled with people.  I woke up missing my mami so much.  I couldn’t wait to get to her.  I hugged her and didn’t care if her cigarrette smoke was getting in my hair.  I wanted my mami the way a kid wants their mami.  In that moment she was the best mami anyone could ever have.  I understand her now.  I appreciate all the little things she did for other people and all the teachings she gave me.

My eyes are tired.  It is a long drive from Spring Hill to Tampa to go to the hospital.  I am not used to these florescent lights.  I kind of want to stay here.  Maybe it’s the clouds or the fast food is making me delusional.  Maybe it’s just that I am all grown up and things are finally good with my family, minus the sicknesses of course, but emotionally we are stronger now.  How can we not be when we have the blessings and the love of a walking saint?

the end.