Cafe Hitch-hike


The way it is, the way it used to be

I chatted with my cousin Johnny for a bit. I hadn't been in contact with him since-- I really can't remember! He isn't a cousin by blood, but his father is the brother of an aunt who married into my family. My mom used to hang out with Aunt Roxie (bless her soul) and Johnny's parents, and then all of their kids hung out and did crazy things while unsupervised.

I guess Johnny doesn't speak to his parents much nowadays. I don't know what goes on between them, but I told him people don't speak much in mine, either.

I can think of one thing that brought the sea change in my family of origin (my mother's people), and I can also point at some of the precipitating events. It occurred to me, in flickers, that a lot of the sorrow I carry is for that reason. I talked to my sister about all of this not long ago:

Me: I think about how mom feels about being in Austin... surrounded by family but people aren't close. I think she said more than once it doesn't matter to live there. Me, I'm the opposite with no one here at all.

Sis: Yep, she actually said that yesterday too.

Me: I thought of that... it wasn't always this way.

I kinda feel everything changed after the whole Zeke thing... it tore the family apart. That and drugs.
At the same time.

Sis: I'm with you on that! It was a very sad situation with Kenna (Zeke's daughter).

Me: Back then I was devastated by the whole thing. Zeke was everybody's buddy but he sure was a dick to his family and it kept getting worse.

Sis: He's still a certain way to them.

Me: But yeah, it used to be different... maybe it all broke cos there was so much crap going on under the surface that built up and something had to give.

Sis: Mmm hmm. Everything done in the dark comes to light, that's for sure.

Me: That's exactly what I was thinking. I guess things can't go back to how they used to be co it would be going backward and we can't cross the same bridge twice.

I do miss what my family used to have. I miss the visits, the meals, picnics, and talks. I miss when they told us stories about when they were younger. I miss seeing my Grandpa Rey sitting quietly on his picnic chair but watching, taking everything in. Things were fun at times, and we used to laugh, play and be absolutely silly! My God, it's such a contrast to what I get to see around me. I'm not saying it's perfect by any stretch, and lots of things were pretty messed up. It's just that I miss that sense of having a community. Talking to someone I hadn't heard from in ages brought it back.

I got one brilliant reset over the weekend. Joliet Jake and I (the former hockey player who's 10 years younger than me) went to a music festival. A lot of people in their 40s and up didn't want to go because it seemed to cater to a teenybopper crowd, but it really did not. It had a few of those bands play, but they covered a few older songs and the young adults actually sang along! The lineup had experienced performers. I couldn't believe I was watching the rapper Ice Cube perform... I remember his music from freakin' high school! They had other bands play that I remember from the 90s and early 2000s. I really enjoyed the music and totally took it all in.

One of the features were two floating bars that played electronica, and I danced to that and enjoyed it. I don't club much at all, so when I get that chance to hear it and dance, I take it! I didn't do it to feel young; it was ]because I've always liked that music.

Joliet Jake was ok with the festival, but he really hated living here. He wished he were still in Canada or where he last lived in Iowa, and said those places were paradise to him. I never knocked his preferences, but as we talked (oh, wait, "he talked"), he expressed not liking the people, the weirdness or the way of life in these parts. He really only wanted to be here until he finished his job contract at the end of the year so he could bail.

Well, that was lovely to discover! I could see where he was coming from, but damn, he also didn't seem to be very open to anything. I noticed he subtly cringed when I ate some things (guacamole, chicken curry). We walked by some grafitti artists who did work in Wynwood, and they were painting in front of everyone. I told him I could take him down there painlessly and show him around, and he replied he just wanted to avoid Miami.

The funny thing was we took a break in a trailer that gave whiskey samples. A guy closer to my age shared our high-top table. When JJake went to get us a refill, I noticed the guy's Latin features and smiled, "eres Cubano?" Yes, he was Cuban-American and we had a very nice chat. He told me where he grew up and lived, and I knew exactly where it was because it was where my father was from. It was a brief little chat, but I truly enjoyed it. I immediately noticed the contrast between being with a guy who didn't like what I liked and then talking to a guy who shared a degree of familiarity! Oh, and the Cuban guy was pretty nice on the eyes; ei, yi, yi, I have some interesting memories of Cuban men!

Well, Joliet Jake and I had a cool time together but there was zero chemistry beyond being company to each other. I'm sure the death knell for him was me whooping, singing, and laughing along to Pitbull when he performed... Yeah, Pitbull. If the curried chicken, guacamole, and saying I liked South Florida didn't blow any possibility, I think me digging Pitbull did it.

I didn't expect to feel the way I did when I saw him on stage. It made me think of my days here and then in Miami; his music was the backdrop to a lot of it. Miami wasn't my favorite place in the world, but it's in my heart and I was glad I lived there. Anyhow, I think I South Florida/Latined poor Joliet Jake out of the water.

His words made me remember feeling similarly when I first moved down here. It took me 2 years before I stopped missing home and started to feel differently. However, I stuck around because I was having a lot more opportunity and fun. It started to become home to me. I told JJake all of that. JJake then remarked, "I don't want to change into this," meaning the Florida lifestyle.

It made me think that I definitely changed with the move. When I moved down here, I felt I was changing into something I wasn't, but maybe I simply changed because it was a natural response to what was going on in my life. As far as Jake goes, well, different strokes for different folks. I hope he can find some enjoyment out of the area while he is here.

Oh, yeah, and other highlights of the music fest was not getting a wicked sunburn (thank you, SPF 55 dry sunblock), JJake's vape pen, and the vodka I smuggled in lotion containers to pass on the $10 drinks! It felt so good to just get lost in the music and crowd for a little while, and just let it all make the stresses and worries fade for that time.

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