I took my first trip to my father’s homeland this week. It was an amazing journey, filled with tons of family stories unlike any I’d heard before. During my trip, I ran across this quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the Centro Leon in Santiago, Dominican Republic. It kind of summed up how I felt about what I was hearing.
Yo nací y crecí en el Caribe. Lo conozco país por país, isla por isla, y tal vez de allí proviene mi frustración de que nunca se me ha ocurrido nada ni he podido hacer nada que sea más asombroso que la realidad.
As I approached the corner of Van Ness and McCallister this evening I saw a man standing stoically at the corner and another wildy waving his hands in the air. The latter was clearly directing his efforts at the former.
I thought, “Wow, he is clearly putting a hex on that guy.”
I’m not sure why I thought he was cursing the guy, maybe it was too much Three Stooges watching as a kid, or a lingering belief in the power of transmitted energies, but that’s what I saw.
Never mind that the young mother at the bus stop covered her baby’s ears, or that the 20-something man in the suit decided to take the next bus as the verbal altercation came his way, or that I wanted to cross the street away from this scene.
This wasn’t an old-fashioned beat down in progress, it was a cursing.
Only then was it a less sad story about urban life.
Mom: I fell into the trash can again.
Me: You did? How did that happen, again?
Mom: I was trying to move it with the lid open, and well, I kind of fell in.
Me: Are you ok? What did you feel?
Mom: After I figured out I was still alive, I thought it was dark in there.
At some point every woman reads the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. With its famous beginning of “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,” women are exhorted not to wait until they are elderly to have lives full of color and adventure.
The poem sprang to mind this morning when reading about Venus Ramey, the 82-year-old former Miss America who shot the tires out of an intruder’s car, with a handgun, while balanced on her walker.
What I loved most about the story was the quote included in the Associated Press’ version, “I’m trying to live a quiet, peaceful life and stay out of trouble, and all it is, is one thing after another.”
Sometimes the purple just won’t stay away.
© Laura Genao 2007