My bag is packed. Dishes are put away. I have a small stash of healthy-ish treats ready to go and my big, floppy hat is perched on the chair so I won’t forget it. I have been waiting for this…
The Calderon Ballroom used to be the hub of community life in Phoenix, and it hosted everything from quinceañeras to wedding and birthday celebrations. Urban legends, such as the “Bailé con el diablo” cuento, became a part of El Campito folklore. It is believed that a young woman attended a party at Calderon’s and was dancing with the most handsome guy in the room.
“She was dancing away,” my dad told me, “drinking whatever he brought her. The dark haired man with the most expensive suit and the biggest wallet wanted to dance with her all night. But she notices as he pulls her close, the faint smell of rotten eggs on the dance floor. Worse, when he spins her around, she sees a horrible sight in the mirror. His forked tail is hanging out of his coat!” The story ends with the lady’s feet getting hot like coals, and her running out of there, never to be seen again.
Then, after telling me this story, he took us to eat at Calderon’s. I didn’t even want to go alone to the bathroom every time we visited for fear of seeing the devil in the bathroom, where, in fact, it did smell of sulphur.
When you try to place things, experiences and people in words, details that were clear become nebulous at best. So, it’s best to try to capture what the truth may be at that given time. This story is just a drop of life into the great ocean of life. It may just become a part of a giant tsunami; it may park itself somewhere as a lake – even a life that is stagnant and dark with moss might give birth if stirred with the right spoon.
Morbid best describes the way my mother talked about death. She talked about death as if it was her Friend. To me, it seemed that death was always on the outskirts, threatening my time with her. She would play strange games with me.
“What would you do if I died?” she asked me once as I colored in my superhero coloring book.
“Cry,” I said, not looking up at her. This question was not new. She would come and hug me and say Oh, you’d miss me? or kiss my cheek. But I was about 10 when she asked this time. My mind and heart battled separately and my mind, intent on the color red for Superman’s cape, refused to submit to the question. She continued to press, asking me what I would do after the crying was over.
“Maybe I would die with you?” I said. Separation from our little family of three would be impossible I thought. She looked at me.
“Well, ok,” she said. “But what about your life? Don’t you want to live?”
“Not without you.”
She considered this. “I know it might be hard, but people do die, you know. And kids go on living.”
I still didn’t look up from my drawing.
“Well, we’ll see when that time comes,” I said.
Take the temptation of your tears
Combined with the crisis point of the levees
Soon to be broken in your life.
Make this, not the distraction,
But the focus – the mirrors
So to speak.
The opportunity to tease
The fears that creep,
Trying vainly to destroy the satisfaction
Of your success;
This is the key to keeping
One step beyond
And turning weeping
Calm wins out
When the emotion threatens to overtake sanity.
Yet, do we really believe that calm brings equity?
Are oceans tossed or still?
What is the percentage of oceans raging and
The gross swelling of banks dismisses the idea
That calm wins out.
It just deceives the soul
Into a semblance of control.
So let go
Of your calm.
It’s not enough that I am strong.
Understand: my will is tested true.
I am stronger than the purest wrong.
And I didn’t know this until truth was tested.
For even when I know the right thing to do
By my own will, I am bested.
This has gone on too long.
My life is filled with trying,
To please yet another one.
And yet I am always crying
Bitterly refusing the light of the sun.
Participating in lying,
Until I am undone.
He makes me do what I never thought I would do.
He is a genius and a fiend of hearts.
Robbing me of my love, he pieces it out and takes me over.
What do you do when you know you have failed someone?
Do you simply give in to the bitterness of the offended?
Hurt constantly drilling a hole into your Psyche until blood, then water runs?
It doesn’t help.
The offense is great, and grace….not good enough.
Is it an answer to chastise yourself? Leave burns and marks for all to see?
What, then, brings relief?
Can failure breed excellence? Can I try someday, again?
Is every moment a fleeting moment, never to be recovered?
My very soul aches with the thoughts of loss.
The death of my dreams, the death of me.
Can I place all of myself in one word?
Where do I define this word?
Is it in a thesaurus or randomly seeking me?
Words don’t suffice when the other person is withdrawn, cold, outside the circle you try to create.
No matter how much you draw them in, the circle becomes smaller and splits
Like a zygote into twins.
These twin halves lie opposite of each other; at different poles.
Where one exists, can the other? Or do they drive each other away like magnets?
I feel you sleeping away inside of me like a giant undisturbed.
But if that giant wakes…