Dancing In and With the Rain

When you are caught in the rain, do you let it ruin your day or do you flow along with it?

I get why people are so afraid of the rain — no one wants to get their brand new shoes wet, or the clothes they just ironed, or the hair they just blow-dried, or smudge the mascara they just applied. How many times haven’t this happened to any of you? It’s happened to me so many times and, maybe by instinct, my first reaction is to run for shelter. Well, it happened again. I went to a street festival the other day where no one seemed to suspect that it would rain. Vendors had their deep-frying pans and meats all laid out on tables; artists painted on the sidewalk; musicians soaked in sweat played their dry instruments, and pedestrians, like my friend and I, walked in the middle of the street with beer in hand.

All of a sudden, it started pouring and we had not many options for shelter. My first reaction was to put my hands over my head to cover my hair. (What is it with women and hair?!) We entered a bar in the meantime and waited there for the rain to go away. It never did. So, my friend said, “Let’s just get wet!” (Wording is everything.) I hesitated, but then I agreed. It was pure elation.

It was liberating to walk and dance in the rain. And I don’t know why, but it felt as if I was doing something illegal and, as it happens with the forbidden, I had to quickly enjoy it before I got caught. But it’s easy to understand why doing something that we’ve avoided our whole life feels that way.

The rain had no plans on stopping. If we had waited until it went away, about an hour later, we would’ve missed out on most of that fun day. Sometimes, we’re too restrained. These are the little things that make life a bit more enjoyable. It was also great seeing how many people didn’t give a cucumber and just poured themselves out on the streets, like the rain, and danced the day away. Yes, my mascara smudged, my hair curled up, and my clothes got soaked. But the good memory from that wild rainy day will remain.

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Batsh*t Crazy Makes Me Drink

Here’s a little story.

I remember the night of November eighth. I wanted to go to a bar, be in the middle of the action, get ready to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s victory–just as I had for Obama last two elections. But sh*t escalated quickly.

My friend wanted to go to her brother’s house instead, so I went with her. Now I was stuck at this house with nothing but one glass of wine and a baby sleeping upstairs. Add personal troubles to the mix and here was a worst-case scenario at its best. Meanwhile, as the results kept coming in, all I wanted to do was go outside and scream. At the moment, I could not believe this was the people of the United States of America digging their own grave. (Now we have a pretty good idea of all the shade behind this election.) Everyone around me started feeling sick. I wanted to puke. The last time I felt that sick to my stomach it was September 11, 2001. How did we get here?

This election has been particularly tough to assimilate for pretty much any person of reason and morals.

We ended up going back to my friend’s house that night–no longer needing to celebrate–and downed a couple of tequila shots as if it were water. I can never do straight non-chilled shots, mind you, but I had to calm my anxiety somehow. I tried drowning my repulsiveness in alcohol, but it didn’t work. It was a hell of a terrible, sleepless night. And, if the Electoral College doesn’t come through on December 19th, I’m hoping to be drunk for the next four years.

Drink responsibly.

 

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And Just When You Thought Your Eating Habit Was Bad

A thought comes to mind.

eating habits

One day (last night) I had cereal for dinner. The next day (today), I had a banana and a cup of tea for breakfast; a plain lactose-full cheese sandwich with a cup of milk for lunch; and then, for dinner, a few chicken finger strips. That’s not gourmet, but it’s all right. It’s just that it is the worst series of meals I’ve had in a long time.

I thought, what am I doing disrupting my diet like that? Back-to-back. Then reality hit me: some people follow no regimen because they have nothing to eat at all.

Those of us who have the luxury to be selective with what we eat sometimes forget how lucky we are. You can’t punish yourself for having access to all sorts of foods, nutritious food, while some people starve. It’s not your fault. But I think it helps you to stay grounded and in touch with reality when you consider where you stand.
Maybe it’s the hopeless compassionate being in me, but I’m always thinking of the less fortunate when someone complains about what they ate or when someone leaves a crazy amount of leftovers on their plate — I hate seeing it go to waste.

As for me, I like staying on top of my game health-wise. I’ve skipped a few good meals due to nothing but laziness (and then there’s also the fact that I can’t cook). I’m one of those “freaks” who must eat right to feel well, physically and emotionally. That’s my only concern. But it takes only a simple thought to bring me down to Earth because, when I think of the world’s disadvantaged and how I’ll have access to a hot plate the minute I decide to go grocery shopping, I know I’m going to survive.

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I Happened in September

As much as I wish time stood still sometimes, it is good news when I make it to another September. Even if it means summer  — my favorite season — will start winding down soon.

Some of the most beautiful things begin to happen in September, too. The whole town blows up in flames; shades of orange, yellow, green, brown, and red paint the streets with the beautiful color of autumn’s maple leaves.

If you were born in September, there’s a chance you are magic.

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Broken Bonds

I parked my car by the blue line. The yellow line meant no parking, so I knew better to keep away. I was looking forward to seeing Aunt Marsala for the first time in forever. Before jumping out of the car, I double-checked that all the windows were up. Beep Beep. I locked the car. Aunt Marsala’s neighborhood looked dilapidated as ever. She had been a victim of life circumstances for far too long.

Once at the top of her doorsteps, I rang the bell and waited outside. Fiddling with my keys, rocking back and forth on my heels, moving my head from side to side in a watchful way… I couldn’t trust neighbors I never met. Besides, it was 95 degrees outside. Why am I wearing a long sleeve shirt precisely today? While I was reviewing my fashion choice, a tall bulky man opened up.

“Oh, hey!” I said. We made eye contact for roughly three seconds as he stuck his head out, as if to see who it was, but then his pupils wandered somewhere else in the distance.

“Um, hi,” he said in the coldest way. The only reason that I knew he was talking to me was because I was the only person standing before him. His voice couldn’t sound more apathetic. The man was my cousin Tito.

“Uh, is aunt Marsala home?”

“She’s somewhere inside.” he said, moving to his right side to let me inside. I walked in and went straight to the kitchen.

Not that I ever had a close familial relationship with Tito, but I remembered better times. Now, my presence annoyed him. Perhaps if I had stayed at the same illiterate level as him he would’ve shown me more attention, like he did to all my other cousins. But I guess I was too “refined” for his taste now. I brushed it off. After that awkward encounter, I couldn’t wait to see Aunt Marsala. I knew she would be glad to see me, unlike some people. I haven’t seen her in months!

Aunt Marsala always had some strange qualities to her that I could never figure out, but she was still more welcoming than other members in the family — and she always invited me to stay for lunch or dinner.

I sat at the kitchen table. Inches from me, was Tito, lying across the tan sofa watching TV. Thankfully, there was someone else in the room to make the air less tense, which moment didn’t last long, anyway, as Aunt Marsala appeared through the backdoor. She was holding a bucket and some scissors. Perhaps she was gardening. She looked strong and healthy, not bad for a 68-year-old.

“Amanda!” she said. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and then hugged me with much affection. “How have you been?” I used to visit her frequently in my teen years. As a grownup, I now have too much to do. I also moved out of town, which made visiting harder.

After giving aunt Marsala a big hug, she held me at arm’s length and studied me with palpable curiosity. My ear-to-ear genuine smile anticipated a joke from my favorite aunt, followed by endearing words. Instead, “Oh my god, your face looks like a balloon, you’ve gained weight, right?” she said. “Don’t let yourself go now!”

I could feel a burning sensation rushing from each side of my nose up to my tear duct. I looked away and blinked swiftly to stop myself before my eyes turned red. I was already battling insecurity issues, it was the last thing I needed to hear. It couldn’t have occurred to her that, maybe, the meds had caused my moon face. She knew I was ill.

Though shaky, my smile didn’t break, at least not on the outside. I stood there with no immediate response to her usual indiscretion, thinking of a hundred other things she could’ve said. I imagined she had a lot of better things to say. After all, she hadn’t seen me in two years.

Finally, I thought of something. “I have to go. I was just driving by and stopped to say hello.” She seemed surprised, but without further explanation I kissed her good-bye, and I left.

I could’ve sat down with her, laughing at the silliest things, like the old times. But that would’ve meant sitting through a potential hour of negative remarks because, when I revisited the memories I was holding on to, I realized that this was typical of her. She rarely ever had anything nice to say. I’d romanticized our past.

She was good to me, in her own ways; gratitude, that’s why I kept in touch. Memories of good times we used to spend and hopes that they could be repeated. Quite frankly, it was not the blood. It couldn’t be the blood anymore. We had grown old.

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Misunderstood Sonnet

“Are you grieving?”

“No,” I quizzically said.

“You only talk about sad things.”

How to tell her that I’m a requiem; an airless breath, a heartless ribcage, a misunderstood sonnet. I want to tell her about the times I’ve stared blank at the silver clouds up in the sky, never hearing a reply. So unable to express the feeling of not feeling. I felt so much that now I grew immune. Just emotionless.

Am I grieving? Maybe I am. Hands forced up in the air by circumstances, while life points a riffle to my back. I’m detained. Can’t escape. Change your ways, they say, for a tree you ain’t. At least a tree can be uprooted and that’s the end. I’d much prefer a painless death.

Sad things because, it’s all my now heartless ribcage knows since long ago. I know of instances and mental getaways, and thoughts of a time when I’m less insane. We sometimes lack the things we need the most. Like Cowardly Lion’s, my courage is a ghost.

She knew nothing about me, yet she noticed all that there was.

©Marcia Capellán

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Pretty Even

She remembers the times
he rubbed it all in her face.
Car payment, shopping sprees,
fancy meals, his fancy place.

Every argument led to one direction,
“I’ve done so much for you;
I’m the answer to your equation.”

Repetitive words
he said so often times,
made her question decisions
she made in her prime times.

Guilt, insecurity, loneliness, and misery,
She raced against life,
trying to change destiny.

Maybe he was right;
maybe she owed him a hundred.
He picked her up, after all,
when her days were thundered.

Pounding her head
with the hammer’s claws
until the impact
cut loose the gauze.

Countless years with no elation
were indeed grounds for cancellation.

Pretty even, she thought,
it had been paid off.

 

©Marcia Capellán

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Getting to Know Sara

Since she was eight years old, Sara has never lived in any country for more than three consecutive years. It is constant moving for her and her ambassador parents. She studied at many international schools, from London to Australia, and she speaks five languages: Italian, French, African, English, and now Spanish. Sara just moved to Salamanca, and in a few minutes, we’ll get to know each other better over a welcome lunch our host-family has prepared. My palms are sweaty and my middle finger wrestles my index under the table, imploring the universe that this girl is likable. After all, we’ll be housemates.

Jose Maria, our host father, offers me a glass of wine. “I only open these on special occasions,” he smiles and pours me some. It’s a reserve wine; Ribera del Duero, I think. Now I have to drink this thing. Jose Maria has been extremely friendly and helpful since the day I arrived in their home. I’d feel bad not to drink his special wine… My eyes struggle to stay straight after the first few sips. I can’t stop laughing either and I don’t know why. Jose Maria is laughing, too, but he’s laughing at me. “Already?!” he says. And now everyone is laughing.

“You’re not used to drink at this time of the day, are you?” says Carmen, the host mother.

“This is my first glass of wine,” I say.

“Ever?!” Sara seems shocked.

“Ever.”

“It’s okay,” says Jose Maria, still laughing. “Just sip it slowly.”

Spaniards don’t worry about too many things in life. Carmen says her kids have been drinking since the age of twelve. It’s not much different from some kids in the US, but admitting it is what makes them cooler parents. And, for the short bit I’ve known Carmen, I know she would have smacked her children across the face if she deemed wine-drinking at an earlier age to be wrong. But maybe she did, and doesn’t care now that her kids are in their thirties and turned out to be decent human beings.

I thought Jose Maria must know a thing or two about drinking, so that’s just what I do. I take it slow. The wine makes it easier for me to talk to Sara. If I look like a fool, she’s not giving me any signal. She sounds cultured, and wealthy, and concerned about women’s rights… I can’t keep up. Our lunch is over and now I just want to take a nap. I grab my plate and try to put it in the sink, but Carmen stops me. “No, no, no…you go take la siesta,” she slurs, cigarette in hand. She seems worse than me. I want to insist on doing it, but now the kitchen has turned into a ball of smoke and it really bothers me, so I just find my exit.

Sara walks over to her room first. Then I follow. Our rooms are across from each other, only divided by the shallow hallway. I really want to stop and keep talking to Sara, but I think this conversation will be better when I’m sober.

“I feel really funny and extremely lethargic,” I say, “I think I’m going to take a nap.”

“Yes, yes, you should,” says Sara, always smiling from ear to ear. “I’m going to the park at around six, you know, for a little exercise, if you want to join me when you wake up.”

This girl is something. But now I think she’s crazy. It’s 4:30 PM already; how does she expect me to be up in an hour? This would be my first nap since I came to Spain five days ago. I want to experience it. But, “I’ll try,” I say.

When I wake up, I’m completely disoriented. The blinds are down and it’s darker than inside a sinkhole in my room. The red digital numbers in my black alarm clock indicate that it’s past eight. Never again, I say to myself. A whole day, wasted. I then remember Sara. Oh, no… When I open my door, she’s in her room, her door open, and that signature smile on her face.

“Hey!” she waves full of energy, removing the headphones from her ears.

I’m a sleepwalker though. Rubbing my left eye with my left hand, I raise my right hand and wave back, a shy mortified smile on my face. “I guess I slept in, huh.” We both giggle.

“How are you feeling? I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Better,” I say. Then, I make my way to the bathroom and disappear for a short bit.

It is rather quiet in the house. Carmen and Jose Maria have definitely left for the paseo, as they do every evening. They’ll be home by nine something as we agreed we’ll eat dinner by ten. We don’t normally have dinner that late back in The States, but a late lunch calls for a later dinner.

When I come out of the bathroom, Sara is standing in the hallway. Her tall voluptuous shadow scares the crap out of me, so I jump.

“I thought you were in your room,” I say, my hand over my heart.

She apologizes for scaring me and tells me that she went to the kitchen for a drink of water and got distracted by Carmen’s paintings on her way back to her room. Then, with her ear-to-ear smile, Sara asks me,

“Hey, have you ever stolen anything?”

 

© Marcia Capellán

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