For this prompt, I walked around the neighborhood we were staying in in Puerto Vallarta (Alta Vista), and collected leaves and flowers that were growing along the sidewalks. I brought those leaves and flowers back and passed them out to the group, asking them to spend some time with each one, then pass them on to the person on their right. Everyone sat in silence and entered what I call the “dream space,” while I read the poem below, by Luis Cernuda.
by Luis Cernuda (excerpt)
From the corner where you sit,
Look out at the light,
The grass and the trees and mossy
Stone in the arbor
That measures time in the sun,
And the water lilies, tufts
Of dream on the motionless
Water of the fountain.
Above you, the translucent
Folds and pleats of the leaves,
The pale blue of the sky,
A blackbird sweetly
Sings, as if the voice
Of the garden were to speak to you,
In such a still hour
Use your eyes well, look
As if you gently touched
Each thing. you owe thanks—
For such pure calm
Free from pleasure or pain—
To the light, for soon
It will go, as you will.
My inner adolescent is finally coming of age. Now that he’s finally individuated from and forgiven his father, now that he’s said goodbye to his ex and his therapist, he’s ready to be a grown-up.
It’s a new experience, sitting down to breakfast with that part of myself I have battled all through adulthood. The one who always wants more: more food, more wine, more pot, more sex, more love, more attention. He has dragged me onto dance floors with strangers, called in sick when he wanted to stay home and read a book in bed, or masturbate, or take a long walk.
We have argued. I have stood there, looking at him in the bathroom mirror, saying, “You need to do your homework. You need to stay home.” All the while he sent text after text to Carlos, inviting him out to Oakland to dance with the tall brown man we are still too shy to ask out for coffee (after more than ten years). “You can’t go,” I told him. “You have to work tomorrow.” But Carlos re-plied: Come over at 9:00! followed by a smiley face. And even though my lips were moving, my inner adolescent wasn’t listening to me. He just patiently applied a coat of shiny white lip balm, and hummed a tune by Kylie Minogue.
But now, he’s asking about returning to Mexico. He’s asking in a new way, a way that indicates he might want to get to know Francisco a bit better, or talk with the editors of that little gay magazine. He sits with me at breakfast—a coffee latte, a ham and cheese croissant—and he tries to show me that he is indeed growing up. I look at his flawless face—the large eyes, the orangey glow of his skin, those unruly bangs he still tries to blow dry straight—and I wonder.
Last night we decided to drink water rather than have another beer. We stepped out onto the dance floor with friends and allowed ourselves one more dance (it was Nicki Minaj, after all), but we both agreed to jump in a cab right after that song. We had to get up early. We had a meeting in the morning with a beautiful blonde woman, and a tiny champagne-colored lap dog. There were plans to make for returning. Vamos a volver: We will return.
In the cab ride up the bumpy cobblestone street, he turned to me, that boy who still believes we are capable of everything, who believes that the world is still a beautiful place.
“Promise me we’ll come back soon,” he said.
And for once, I didn’t say yes when I meant no.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes. We will.”