Thursday, October 23, 2014

Que lastima, pero adios!

So I've been going to this writer's workshop downtown at Gemini Ink. Every Wednesday morning, I pick up my friend Susan, who is probably a good 40-50 years older than I am, and we make the drive down I-10 to 513 S Presa. We're a motley crew, the 6-7 of us that come every week. Loren's a graphic designer from Seattle. Wilburn is a whimsical old crackpot with rampant ADHD. Terry's a local haunt of the San Antonio poetry workshops, crossed the border with her family as a little girl and made a life here. Casey is tall, always in sandals, seems to have aversion to wearing bras, and likes political topics. And Susan, the sweet elderly lady with bad arthritis, is a retired lawyer, lives alone, her late husband a pathologist and missionary in China in a former life. Finally there's me, the med student who spends his Wednesday mornings writing fiction and poetry.

Terry shared some of her inspiration last week, a poem called "Adios, Fresno" by Tim Hernandez, a writer and performance artist of the west coast and southwest. She explained the idea of using it as a prompt--writing about a city she'd left and the reasons she did so. Then I got to thinking about doing the same.

(Hear "Adios, Fresno" here: Tim Hernandez Poems)

So I wrote about Seattle--40 lines about what I hated, what I loved, and why I needed to leave. I guess I didn't write about why I went back after. But suffice to say, it's always been love/hate with me and Seattle. The city, the rain, the floating bridges, the trees, the mountains over the Pacific, then the black hole of loneliness, the depression, the things I never talked about growing up. I read it in the workshop today thinking it was overly affective and splashy, and was relieved to hear that nobody thought that was the case.

Then tonight I went to TA my med lit class, the topic of which was soldiers and war, and the comparison to doctors and medicine. One thing that got me a bit was when we got to the subject of how we share our traumatic experiences with the people we love, and that ever-sweet notion that yes, love is enough to tear down that wall of isolation. But the understated nuance of reality is that no, love is sometimes not enough, that sometimes healing those wounds takes more, which Dr. Winakur made a point of saying. I chimed in with my agreement, offering up my own examples of how difficult it is to talk with Angie about bad days in the hospital, and really, it's true of any bad history. It's why I write so much, I said.

Finally, I get home, and here I am at 1:23 AM, serially recalling Seattle and every other city I've left. What's funny is that each time I've left a place, I've always promised to come back and visit often, which has been far from the reality of things. Call it irony, my fixation on the past belying my physical avoidance of it.

There's this old Julieta Venegas song - "Me Voy," that we used to drink and sing to all the time in Brownsville. I have it on loop, and listening to it, I feel as if it could be my anthem for all the cities I've left growing up. Mostly because of this one line: Me voy. Que lastima, pero adios! "I'm leaving. What a shame, but goodbye!" I know it's really more of a breakup song, but I'd rather sing this for the cities of my past than the women of my past. I hear this song and I want to get drunk, go back to the house on Guadalajara St. for one more dance, find my friends who've all dispersed and shout for one more song, stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and women I've loved and forgive myself for the general stupidity of my youth. Julieta goes on and on in the background--"Porque no supiste entender a mi corazon." Good Lord. I'll probably be singing this when I leave Texas eventually.

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