noviembre 08, 2015

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman: Superhero from the comics that possesses the beauty of Venus, the wisdom of Minerva, the strength of Hercules and the speed of Mercury. Her weapons are her tiara, a deathly boomerang, the indestructible bracelets to make her invulnerable, and the lasso of truth with the strength of an aircraft carrier.
Technically she is the only indestructible character after Superman.
Sometimes I look at my wife, and that’s how I see her. I am certain that I’m going to get in trouble over this story.
Because I do not believe I possess the moral or grammatical stature to write it, and because Marita is going to be mad at me.
Ever since I started writing as a distraction that I always wanted to have, the stories and feelings I have not written parade around in my mind on their own volition. It’s a new and extraordinary phenomenon. It seems to replace my obsessive worries, and I would say it is a form of catharsis or something similar. However, it maintains the same compulsiveness that has always characterized my imagination. And it is that compulsiveness that forces me to write this.
I am sorry, my love.
Marita, my wife of almost thirty six years, is pleased to see me occupy my time like this, with some reservations. When I speak of her on funny terms, she likes it. When I describe my role of victim in our marriage like saying that I am an employee of the house, and that sometimes I even have to report to the dogs instead of to her, she does not like it but she lets it slide. But she hates it when I speak well of her. Honestly, she simply doesn’t tolerate it. And I like it so much when people speak well of me! However, that is one more of the many reasons that make me love her so much.
I don’t want to be corny, even though I am, so I’m not going to talk about how I fell in love with her or how few romantic things I was actually able to pull off with her. Sometimes my clumsiness and many times my lack of finesse were to blame. It’s enough to say that for me it was love at first sight. I saw her and I knew it was her, and with time we got married. 

Marriage isn’t easy for anyone. It sure wasn’t for us. One falls in love with an ideal, an image, gestures and attitudes that we think are wonderful. But the difference between the illusion and love is the same as learning to play soccer through the mail and learning to play with a team on a field. Everything seems wonderful, even the flaws seem charming. But the first kick to the shin makes us come back instantly and harshly to reality.- Me?!? Ma’am please!
-Yes, yes, you! Don’t play dumb with me. We all saw that you were going too fast.
We have lost count how many times we’ve kicked each other in shins, liver, head and other body parts. I don’t think there are many lasting couples in which the reciprocal desire of murdering your spouse wasn’t considered more than once. Like I heard someone say, there are people that haven’t done it for the sole reason that they have seen a CSI episode.
But I adore her. I have asked myself many times, and I have let her know, why I love her and I don’t know, but I love her. It is not praise, actually is quite the opposite and this thought crosses my mind in moments like when I am shopping on a Sunday at 4 in the afternoon, instead of being at home lying in bed and watching TV.
By the way, I do not like shopping and I will never like it.
I have always heard that opposites attract. But I have also always heard that the affinity between the two is important. Meaning some justify the success of a relationship when their interests, tastes and hobbies are completely opposite, while others uphold the exact opposite of this.
I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to know either. All I know is that after all this time, I look at her and I see her as beautiful as she was when I met her.
If there are two opposite people in this world, it is Marita and I. Adjusting to living together when we first got married was really difficult for us. We rented a small studio apartment about 165 square feet with a small kitchen and bathroom. We painted it, we cleaned it, and we arranged it and decorated it as better as we could.
We bought a bedroom set with a queen bed frame, but we had to use my full mattress because we didn’t have enough for a new one. Problems started with what side of the bed you want to sleep on, the bedside light bothers me, to turn off the TV, to even waking up to Marita asleep kicking me out of the bed. I ended up on the floor several times. She ended up with bruises from kicks and punches I gave her in my sleep.
I go to bed late, she goes to bed early and she need a full eight hours and I need six, I don’t eat breakfast, she does, I get to work late and she is late to weddings, details like those. Not by tenths but by hundreds. I love watching sports, she hates them, table games, I like them, she doesn’t, etc.
But if there are two people in tune with each other, it is Marita and I. We love to go out and travel without a plan and sometimes without destination, without planning anything. Listen to music together, socialize a little, go to the movies and the theater, sunsets and animals, talk about nothing and everything, help others, kiss each other on the lips and hug each other every morning after we wake up, or when we say goodbye or when we arrive. Even to this day.
Without noticing and at the same time we look for each other’s hands when we walk side by side or when she is driving. When we go out together, I never drive anymore; her worry and warnings every 10 seconds were too much for me. We like to look at each other in the eyes and we like to sit in silence, we love bitter olives, and hot corn puddings. There are a million things we both like, just like there is a million things just one of us likes.
During our first years, towards the end of each month I was working 18 hours a day and sometimes all day. She would stay alone and suffered. One day, in a moment that describes her perfectly, I came home late and I found her sitting at the table with pieces of parsley and cilantro on her head. I asked why she had put that on and she replied: “it’s just that it’s been so long since we went out that fungus is growing on my head”. No comments.
Another time, I was in deep sleep at 3 a.m. and she abruptly woke me up to tell me: “Guess what I just dreamed”. It is in moments like this that more than one crime has happened.
One day, walking down the neighborhood of San Isidro, we saw a car crash. We ran up to it quickly and we saw that both drivers were unhurt, and arguing about who was at fault. Since no one was injured, I turned into a spectator. I love watching people argue, debate and I quickly tend to take a side, keeping my opinions to myself, of course. Suddenly I hear a third voice that I recognized immediately:
-it was your fault! Don’t you realize that you were going too fast?
“We” were one older guy that hid instantly, Marita and I. the situation didn’t end well, for the accused nor for me. The police came, Marita told them her version, the guy kept arguing and I was trying to hold her back because she wanted to fight him.
During those times, Marita was 18 years old and about 95 lbs.
Yet a different time, backing out of the parking lot at a restaurant, I hit a parked car. Thinking about parking and checking out the damage, I looked at her and she say: “What are you waiting for? Go, go!” Obediently, I took off as fast as I could.
Little by little, as fantasy made way for reality, the intense illusion made way for a deeper love. We had huge problems. We even considered separating and divorcing. We had painful hurdles to overcome, especially her and each hurdle made me not love her more, but make her more a part of me or maybe make me more a part of her.
I think I need to explain a few things. I wrote a story about my mom, who passed away when I was 11 years old. Someday I will write a story about my father, an extraordinary man that passed suddenly right after I turned 19. For now, it is enough to say that I considered it too much, and that God simply had decided to make an experiment of me on how to fuck with someone’s life the most. In other words, I was the next assignment, that character in the Bible who God tests continuously and makes go through the hardest of times to test his faith. But my faith was dragging, instead of walking.
So I decided to live under the laws of the jungle. I was bitter, filled with hostility and hate. Walking through life like that, with terrible results by the way. I kept up with my bohemian habits, and doubtful attitudes to say the least, behaviors I had acquired a few years prior.
After meeting Marita and becoming crazy about her, I started to learn some things about her life, since she was very reserved. It took me a very long time to know her mom had passed away when she was 13 years old and her dad less than two years later. Yet she was so lively, always in a good mood, as sweet as sugar, and a fighter like none other.
Then I realized it. It was like a Dorian Wilde portrait inside out. It couldn’t be a coincidence. There was something else here. I was looking at myself in a magic mirror, seeing what I could’ve been and wasn’t. When I imagine everything she had to go through, it makes my skin crawl from guilt.
I am very respectful of people beliefs. If you believe in God or not, if you believe in Karma, reincarnation or fatality. My personal opinion is that everyone has the right to believe in whatever they want. I have decided to believe in God, but I have my own version, personal and particular.
Unexpectedly, God had placed in front of me a person that had suffered more than me, but reacting in a completely opposite way and was saying: “This is the woman I have picked out for you. Let’s see if you get your shit together once and for all.” – Smack, smack! A couple of slaps.
I was no saint; actually, I was the complete opposite of one. With a passive-aggressive personality, I’d say yes to everything, and then do whatever I wanted after. For my father and my family, open discussion and direct confrontation was something they were very accustomed to but for me it was baffling. I instead liked to get away with stuff without people noticing, and since I was an artist at being sneaky, the situation gave me a little bit of pleasure.
On top of that, I was spoiled, lazy, absent, and very selfish. Quite the little piece of work. In my favor, I was very sensitive, of acceptable intelligence, and a good heart that probably came from reading so many novels about cavalry as a kid.
And well, here we are. My woman and I. However, the idea of this story is not to compare. What I want in some way, is for people to know how lucky I was.
Definitely, I have certain mental problems. I am a mixture of manic depressive and mild bipolar disorder. I put passion into everything I’m interested in, until I get bored one day and I don’t do it ever again. I have very dark days, and my siblings say I have my own personal dark cloud hanging above my head.
On top of that, I’m still lazy, disorganized, and inconsistent. Despite understanding perfectly well social norms and having a lot of tact in the way I treat others, my very own nature betrays me and I’m politically incorrect to the most unacceptable extreme. I cannot keep quiet; I always have to say something ironic, hurtful or offensive, even when I know I should not for my own wellbeing. It’s just in my nature.
I’m terribly shy. I live with a constant fear and sometimes even terror. As a teenager it was impossible for me to speak to a girl. I remember when I was 12 years old, I fell in love with a girl that would go swimming to a friend’s house that had a pool. My brother and I would go every day. We were a pretty big group and there was never a way to have time alone. I think I only spoke to her three or four times, but I liked the idea of her being my girlfriend. One day I decided to give her a little note that read: “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I wrote it on a notebook and ripped the page out. I didn’t consider that my brother had been watching me.
Yes, Ed, the little punk. He made it his goal to decipher the marks left by my writing in the following page and he made sure he told everyone about it. Impossible to give the note after that and my dreams of my first love vanished.
The first time I had to speak in public, my legs and my voice shook in such a way that I had to walk the whole time and speak louder at the audience’s request, since no one could hear what I was saying.
And now, after 35 years of being together, I see that my life made sense because I married Marita.
I would like to say why.
I don’t know anyone that is as capable of cheering someone up as she is. Not just me, but the people around her. Here and in Lima, there is always someone at the house or on the phone telling her about their problems, and she just gives advice and always cheers people up. I was the client with benefits.
She is incapable of observing something incorrect and do nothing about it. When my sister was hospitalized in a local clinic, with the threat of miscarriage of her oldest daughter, and against my opinion, very soundly she moved heaven and earth to have her transferred to a different clinic. Three days later my precious niece and goddaughter Brenda was born.
When there is a problem in her family, even though she is the fifth kid, she is the one that gets all the phone calls and consoles everyone. I’ve never seen anyone console people like she does it.
Sometimes I just hear what she is telling them because it even makes me feel better.
Once she is alone, she cries inconsolably, because she suffers and I suffer with her, but immediately she regains composure and keeps moving forward. Even though people enjoy my writing, it is impossible for me to console someone. I end up saying stupid things and how sorry I am, how sad, everything passes and that’s it. Not my wife. She has, without a doubt, a magical gift that cures emotional wounds.
However she never thinks of herself. We can be running on empty, and if her sister or our youngest daughter has some sort of financial problem, she rather not eat and help them out. Of course, I, our daughters and her granddaughter are first. She takes care of us, she spoils us, and does everything for us. When I want to get her a gift, or take her out on a nice dinner, she tells me she prefers getting a gift for one of her daughters or buy something for her granddaughter.
She is fun, unpredictable and funny. To listen to her laugh is marvelous. The ones that know me, know that you need a lot of patience with me and that I’m a major opportunist. She has all the patience in the world, and even though she scalds me almost every day with reason, she gets over it almost immediately. I however can stay resentful for days, and in my family some resentment has lasted years.
Oh how she takes care of me! On a winter night, we were in bed, she was sleeping and I was watching TV. I’m thinking about getting a patent on how to sleep cuddling with one arm and holding the remote with the other. Like the compulsive guy that I am, I can watch about three different shows simultaneously. We were cuddling and she was sound asleep, and then Marita touches my arm, the side that guards the remote, grabs the blanket, and covers my arm up completely all the way to the top. I assumed she did it so I wouldn’t get sick.
She takes care of me even in her sleep good God! There are days that while she sleeps and I look at her without waking her up, I just think to myself “how could she have married me?!” and after “on top of that, she has stayed with me all these years!” soon following “she definitely isn’t dumb, quite the opposite, she is very smart! Then, almost like a syllogism, I arrive to my final conclusion: she loves me like I love her, without knowing why she loves me, but she loves me.
And we are happy in our world. The whole opposite or common interests thing just doesn’t work for us. My conclusion is that she completes me and I complete her. Separate, we aren’t two, we are zero. Together we are just one, but a very, very big one!
That is why, my every day hero, the electricity that powers my light, my woman is Marita.
Wonder woman!

noviembre 06, 2015

Así Que Esto Es

Me sentía como si estuviera conduciendo hacia este lugar que yo tenía en mi mente desde hace mucho, mucho tiempo y el camino parecía interminable. A veces me encantaba y otras lo odiaba. En algunas partes parecía inútil seguir, pero no había forma de volver. De repente, un leve giro a la derecha y allí estaba. Me golpeó tan de repente que por un minuto no me di cuenta que el viaje había terminado. No hay más sorpresas, no más ¿ya llegamos?, no más expectativas, no más de nada.

Así que esto es. No lo esperaba como llegó. Pensé que sería diferente, que mas bien llegaría gradual y suavemente, casi como cuando se ve un amanecer desde una noche cerrada, en que uno puede apreciar y sentir todos los matices y colores cambiando y disfrutando cada momento o cuando se llega a una ciudad de noche donde las luces y el movimiento van apareciendo de a pocos.

No lo sé. No puedo decir que no estaba preparado ni que no lo presentía. Pero fue como cuando a uno le comunican la muerte de un ser querido o al descubrir repentinamente que uno está enamorado. De golpe. De un momento a otro todo es diferente y la vida cambiará sin opción de retorno y que no hay más remedio que aceptarlo y seguir adelante.

Me parece que mi error fue visualizarlo como si fuera una película en la que el protagonista era yo. Al salir de una buena película uno escucha comentarios como “¡Que realista!”, “¡Sentí que estaba allí!”, “¡Esto sí que es real! ¡Qué buena película!”, “Podía sentir lo que estaba pasando. ¡Increíble!” y comentarios por el estilo.

Esa es la magia de las películas. El propósito es siempre olvidar la realidad y convertir una ilusión en cierta. Pero no es verdad, ni siquiera se acerca a la vida real.

Uno no siente el calor de la selva, ni las esquirlas de metralla o la lluvia que parece cubrirlo todo. Peor aún, no tenemos cáncer o nuestro mejor amigo no es un asesino en serie.

Desde la comodidad de la butaca de mi vida, lo miraba como un espectador relativamente involucrado, pero sin comprometerme en absoluto.

Y hoy, al subir las escaleras de mi casa, me percaté que lo hacía más lentamente que de costumbre. O por lo menos eso creí. Y fue en ese preciso instante que me di cuenta que había llegado a mi destino.

Soy consciente y oficialmente viejo.

La realidad era que yo era más lento que la última vez que pensé en ello. Al parecer, eso fue hace mucho tiempo. Recordé que desde hace varios meses me estaba moviendo a ese ritmo y pensaba que simplemente no tenía ganas de hacerlo más rápido. Mi mente me decía que podía hacerlo, pero que no valía la pena.

Es curioso cómo suceden las cosas. Seguí esperando todo el día poder hacer actividades casi tan bien como hace unos años. Cálculos mentales, conducir automóviles, caminar normalmente, leer rápidamente, recordar los acontecimientos recientes y muchas otras cosas de todos los días. No pude.

Mi esposa solía preguntarme algo así como "¿Cuánto es quince por ciento de trescientos?" Respondía en un segundo: cuarenta y cinco. Al leer un párrafo entendía la idea de inmediato.

Últimamente había empezado a necesitar un poco más de tiempo con los números, o releer el párrafo "sólo para estar seguro" y pensaba que era legítimo pasar por un proceso muy gradual y lento de concesiones al envejecimiento. Sin embargo, la mente me juega muchos trucos. Imperceptiblemente me adapté a los cambios leves y me decía - No te preocupes, que va a estar bien, dejalo ir esta vez - De repente me di cuenta de que no iba a ser "sólo por esta vez". Será más como "de ahora en adelante...”

Abrupta y duramente me di cuenta que la cabeza le juega a uno la mala pasada de adaptarse imperceptiblemente a los ligeros cambios en todos los aspectos y uno no se da cuenta hasta que ya es tarde.

Entiendo hoy que he llegado a mi vejez. No hay duda de eso. La vida ha sido buena conmigo y le he chupado hasta la última gota de aliento.

Amé mucho, sufrí mucho, disfruté mucho, comí mucho y bebí mucho. Hice de todo mucho. Todo era una exageración en mi manera de vivir. Equilibrio, serenidad y control eran sólo eso: palabras. Loco y apasionado, no me arrepiento de ello. En realidad, estoy agradecido.

Tengo muchísimas cicatrices y heridas abiertas, pero cada una tiene una memoria que hace que valga la pena. Pertenezco a la especie de kamikazes que van por la vida sin condón.

Sin embargo, todavía tengo tantos sueños y planes que me pregunto si con la edad también he llegado a la locura. Quiero ser un escritor, estoy empezando una nueva carrera, quiero viajar por todas partes, disfrutar de mis nietas y mis seres queridos de una manera que sólo puede llamarse egoísta.

Supongo que voy a salir a la carretera de nuevo. Ahora que sé que soy viejo no va a ser como era antes. Hay dos cambios. En primer lugar, será exactamente lo contrario de lo que era. El día siguiente será más difícil de vivir. Más dolor, más lagunas de memoria, recuerdos inolvidables olvidados.

Por otra parte, no me importa. Disfrutaré de la vida y también voy a tener más compasión, más perdón, y definitivamente más amor. No es para mí sino para los demás. Y ese es el secreto de una buena vida.

El otro cambio es más sutil, pero también mucho más potente; este es un viaje en el que nunca llegaré a mi destino. Cualquier día podría ser el último. Al llegar arriba o abajo, no lo sé, podre decir con orgullo: Me dieron un cuerpo nuevecito y aquí les devuelvo uno que no podrá ser reusado, ¡tírenlo de frente a la basura!

Pero está bien. Este es un nuevo juego y estoy listo a jugarlo.