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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Memories of Back-to-School

too school for cool

I only hated school twice in my life: the last year of high school and my last year(s) of college — both being absolute chronic cases of senioritis (self-diagnosed). Other than that, I was the nerd who couldn’t wait to put her new pencil to use. That might explain why I wasn’t appointed the cool girl in town. Past tense, okay? But in the end, it worked out just fine for me.

The race to be the coolest kid is still a thing, I believe, so I have some back-to-school words of advice for those who feel the pressure: School isn’t a kewwl contest but a learning center! Smart is the new cool, anyway. 😎

By the way, congratulations, parents, on getting back your freedom! So I hear…

Any cool school stories?

 

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The Sky Up Above

The moon shine

Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of humankind’s desire to understand. 

I could take a picture of what I’m seeing on this beautiful evening, but I don’t have a NatGeo-type camera (aww). So, as always, I try my best to sketch it 😎 — the mystery that is the sky up above us.

¡Buenas noches!

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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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Brick by Brick

put up a wall

Walls. Sometimes, by locking everyone out, you get locked in. Walls so high it’s hard to breathe. Can’t be brought down that easily. It will require an army — or maybe simply the undoing of the wrong-doing by those who made them go up.

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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.

 

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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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