Hello, Reader. It’s been a while.
By “a while” I mean “a long summer”. That’s not how I meant this to turn out, but long distance relationships are hard. And I’ve been away from nice computers at home ever since my desktop went to computer heaven, pending some metabolic surgery.
I have a new header image for the blog! There’s 13 now, with the addition of the record image:
Let’s get down to business. There are two things I want to do, and this time I will do them.
- Post every week on the weekend. I won’t submit to a specific time during the weekend, just during the weekend.
- Try something new every month, and post about it on my blog.
What’s with the second bullet point? I’m not an eater. People who know me know this. I was eating out with some hard-core eaters (we were celebrating a blackbelt test, and I got to go and wish I were more athletic), and they told me their philosophy. But that’s a story for a different day, and in the end they convinced me to try something new every month. So I said why not? I’ve been meaning to become more of an eater.
So today I had spaghetti with chicken. It was probably the first spaghetti I’ve eaten that I considered asking for seconds, but I didn’t. The chicken had a touch of spice to it which balanced out nicely with the spaghetti which had a cheesy taste and texture.
Okay, so I can’t describe food. I’ll get better. I promise. I guess that just goes to show how I’m not an eater?
And remember: Don’t post comments. I don’t read them. I have 1,221 unread comments (1,220 when I started that sentence). Two or three are legitimate, the rest advertise things from shoes to attractive young women. I have nothing against either of these, until they start cluttering my comment inbox. If you happen to be an attractive young woman, this is not an invitation to comment on this post. Email me. Like that lonely Russian in a coffee shop.
Speaking of women and feet/shoes, I know this girl, and… Okay, I’ll shut up. You have better things to do than listen to me talk about fashion.
That’s a story for another day and I already have one lined up for today. Let the muses begin to whisper in my ear and guide my hands over the laptop on which I write this…
“Either I sat in the sun and burnt, or I sat in the rain and froze. Either way I went back and forth, moving people from one side to the other.
Sometimes they came to create a new life for their families. Sometimes the families came to make themselves a new life. Sometimes they came with drugs.
I have seen thousands of people cross over from Cuba. My first memory was on a boat. My Father supported a family of five, all living in a cardboard hut in Detroit, and not counting himself or his wife or his parents, who still lived in Cuba or her parents, who lived in a nice suburb in Boston. He had a 40 foot sailboat, called the “Veronica IV” after his wife, which he used to go back and forth across the channel, shipping American goods to Cuba and Cuban people to America. Every few weeks he would talk with some of his friends in the post office and he put $5000 in American dollars into a box, and left in on a specific street corner which the nice people shipped to the family, and they brought back letters which my Father would read to me. Letters about how Anne had gotten a promotion at the factory and now had enough money to buy food. About how little Jim still had the flu. About when Jolie stuck in a chimney and Mother had to push her out with a broom.
When I was fourteen he went to the post office one day and I never saw him again. I assume he is dead, since he hasn’t written any letters.
I am the oldest male in the family, which is why I was not with my family in a cardboard hut in Detroit. My Father realized he needed somebody to pass the family trade to, and I got that responsibility. I have an older sister by three years, who last I heard worked in a car factory polishing wind shields. But that was almost thirty years ago. Surely by now she is a floor manager or something. To be honest, though, I don’t remember her. All I have from my family is a return address written in my Mother’s beautiful handwriting.
And for twenty five years, I sailed a 40 foot sailboat across the channel, through sun, rain, swells, hurricanes, and coast guard patrols. And every couple of weeks, I put a box full of $5000 American dollars under the same trash can on the same street corner. I never got any letters, though. Father forbade me from going to the Post Office with him, said it was too dangerous. So somewhere in the Post Office there is a box full of letters from my family. I do not know where.
When my Father disappeared I went to the nearest post office, and asked if they knew one “Mario Cimarro”. They said they had never heard of him.
So I haven’t heard about my family since I was fourteen. But that’s not what you want my to talk about, so I shall continue my story.
There is one particular passenger whom I will probably never forget. She was the daughter of a regular passenger who was very good friends with my Father.
The first time I met her was her first time coming to America. Her Mother tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Where’s your old man?”
I had been half asleep looking over the railing at the receding coast, so I startled a little bit when she asked. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“Well, where did you last see him?”
“Walking down 24th street.”
She paused, not quite understanding what I was saying. Her daughter stepped in “When was that?”
“A year ago.”
The both stared, like when an American talks to one of us.
“I’m sorry, Manela and …” I knew the older woman’s name, but not the younger woman’s.
“Maria. I’m her daughter.” I was a little surprised that the older woman had a sixteen year old daughter, since she was about thirty one herself.
“Ah. Nice to meet you.” I glanced to the port side, and saw a police boat converging on us. The sail was blocking their view of the people on the boat. I turned to them and said “There’s some police coming. I need you two to go under the deck.” My sailboat had a hidden compartment under the deck which could comfortably fit twenty people. Usually we take fourty people, because we make twice as much money that way, and nobody has complained yet. Except for the Police, but they complain if we taken even one person and how was I supposed to support a family? All I had was a sailboat, and there’s little other way to make money with a sailboat in Miami.
When the Police pulled up alongside us, they called out in English “we’re here to perform a random search of your ship.”
I didn’t know English very well, but I knew exactly what they were going to do. They were going to tear the ship apart panel by panel until either they found something or it sank. I had been stupid and gone within 50 miles of the American border. Usually the Police only try a search once, and it’s usually outside the 50 miles. Outside of that I learned to say in perfect, unaccented English “we are more than 50 miles from the coast of Florida.” That’s the only long thing I can say in English.
But we were 49 miles from the coast, and I knew it, and the cops knew it. So I let them come aboard, and prayed that they didn’t find the hidden hatch under the bed in the cabin. The first thing they did was read me my rights and point a large gun at me and tell me that I should say if I was doing anything illegal.
They second thing they did was go into the cabin. Two officers walked in when there was a sudden shattering of glass. Then the second officer raised his gun and let off a few rounds into someone I couldn’t see. There was someone else in the room, though, who was now screaming louder than the horn on a coast guard cutter. There was a slap, and then the scream stop.
The man holding the gun at my chest thankfully hadn’t startled during this exchange, and demanded to know who else was on this boat. A policeman emerged from the cabin dragging Maria behind him.
“Stop!” I gathered my thoughts “I can explain.”
“You damn well better start before I pull this f** trigger.”
“Okay. That is Maria, my girlfriend.” I took a stab in the dark at who was now lying dead in my cabin “We went out sailing with her Mother. We must have gone too far from shore. I promise to God we’ll turn around if you let us go.”
At this point the captain of the police boat walked over, and said something incomprehensible in English. The men lowered their guns and started leaving. The Captain turned to me and said in imperfect Spanish “I knew your Father well.”
I just looked at him.
“He was a man of honor. A criminal, yes, but he never shipped drugs. We’re here to find drugs.”
I blinked. He left. I was staring after the receding patrol boat for a few minutes before Maria gathered herself and put herself in my arms sobbing “she’s dead.”
I patted her sympathetically on the back, still staring after the receding patrol boat.
When I woke up we were curled up together on the bow of the boat.
…and that is how I first met that woman over there.”