Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Related News, Time is a Relative


I’m still striving to figure out what you were to me. On paper: my grandmother, a caretaker, food maker, and forsaker of conditional, traditional love. From you, like no one else, I could expect to be approached in deference, even though you were 60 years my surpasser.

Since you have left, I have learned how to write a business plan and a resume. I have learned how to bake at high altitudes and mismanage a bank account. Though clearly, as my blurry eyes can attest, I have not learned how not to cry while reflecting on your existence during a cross-country red-eye flight. This is very old-fashioned, having a notebook and pen and a few airline peanuts as complementary sidekicks. 

I have passed every test put before me with a flourish that would make you proud. I have learned the literal meaning of things you used to lean in to tell me; turns out they were just Spanish words for look, grandson, stupid, and precious. Their meaning was evident to me already and seeing them reduced to words with dictionary definitions is somehow cheapening. To me they all meant “I love you, no matter what.” Ah yes, eyes still pretending to be tributaries; go away flight attendant. 


I haven’t stopped playing Bingo, but I doubt you would recognize it in its current form. Instead of carefully marking your Bingo sheets with bleeding tubes of color, I highlight spreadsheets one occluded cell at a time. I remember your obsession with foot comfort. Reeboks abounded like rabbits and shoe horns were as accessory to getting ready to “go out” as texting progress updates is these days.

Somehow, you could smack your lips and cause a cheek pinch. On chill, dry nights in New Mexico you talked to me of the stars. You would point with your handheld cigarette and unbridled passion at space, talking about aliens and a radio host named Art, all while humming to me The Girl from Ipanema. I would close my eyes, imagining, and then the cheek pinch sound would come. It was just a sound, but my cheek would feel sufficiently pinched.  That sound and your change in tone wrapped me up like the pig-in-the-blanket snacks that you used to make me; an intriguing association between my senses. Your quirk - the lip smack - squeezed me with such force as to create an impenetrable fortress of credulous safety. I would open my eyes, and you would still be sitting, pointing with smoke at the speeding, tiny lights in the sky.

When I want to see you, I watch my baby video with you rolling me around on a bed like tortilla dough as I smile with my mouth and eyes. I loved you because you would hold my wrist, taking risk out of my life and shouldering all responsibility for my success.

You had a better grasp on reality than gravity does. You didn’t feed me pendejada about becoming president one day or walking on the moon. You would instead predict that my compassion would act as an asset in my future relationships. I would be the best husband, the most responsible brother, the most respectful son. You believed, as many have hoped, that I could influence by being centered and honest and humble. You mistook me for a martyr.

After you died, rooms took on more significance for a good while. Suddenly, I discovered what walls were: a double-edged sword. What once acted as a container for joy and learning and your presence was now a coalition of erected hurdles in collaboration to keep you out of my sight. I was always convinced you were on the other side, waiting for me in the next room. While you moved to a more sustainable enterprise without me, I found out the ease with which freedom can invert to capture.

I can’t believe I result from you. You: a small bundle of energetic benevolence. Me – red-flagged in Kindergarten for making the 5th grade girls cry during recess. I miss you like a 500 page metaphor misses the point.



  1. I like it...but I didn't tell FB I like it. It must have assumed I did, since I was reading it.
    San Francisco-Raleigh flight? Never know where/when the pangs are going to strike. Would be interested to know what you did to make the big girls cry at Oak Grove Elementary?!!

  2. Wow---Memory's are wonderful.
    It was nice to hear some of story's you and your grandma had together. You filled her days with lots of joy and love.
    Thank you son...