The Eyes Of Others

Often people ask me, what do you do there?  I’ve never been able to give a satisfactory answer, something understandable from a normal life.  And that’s the rub about my life. It has not been normal.  Certainly, at this point, I’m incapable of forming the correct words.  I am too dirty and when I bathe, I can never get the stains out of my skin and the diseases that reside there are incurable.  The meanings and emotions circling around me have never been typical.  Always oddly elusive. 

What do I do there?  Well, it has always been the process of looking into the eyes of others and seeing people or experiences or ideas from my past.  My parents, sisters, friends, enemies, my schooling, reading, mistakes, regrets … most of them in my memory, yet, I can take them in my hands and place them in the eyes of others.  Since I was little, eyes were like mirrors for me, pools to swim upon.  I learned about survival by focusing on eyes.  Surely, that is a good thing to do.

Friends are important to me.  They always have been.  I have said many times most of my friends are women.  I still think that is true.  Here, where I live now, my friends are poor and live in the streets or the outskirts of town, up in the hills.   Some of them are sick or dying, some are drunks or on drugs, crystal, etc.  The cartels have unlimited supplies of drugs for the locals and tourists.  Cheap too. 

I really can’t count any foreigner as a friend, an acquaintance yes, but friend no.  We have little to talk about and their words are like tiny pieces of metal eating out my ears.   

The altitude here is over 7,000 feet, so the nights can be very cold and in the rainy season, the water comes in torrents, driving everyone to cover.  When it rains, the streets clear for hours.  It is as if the rain drops are acid and the gutters overflow with something deadly.  People run from the rain. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.

But this is not a story about who I hang out with.  I will only give you their names, because it helps me remember.  Someday, maybe, I’ll tell you about their sadness and trauma, their harsh crimes.  Juan, Juana, Liliana, Maria de la Luna, Maria Jesus, Francisco, Angel, Gumaro, Cnovia, Roberto, Jonny, Manuel, and Nancy.  I can’t walk around here without running into one or more of them and I’m always good for a few pesos or a little bag of food and I look into their eyes and I can see my whole existence.  All the moments I have lived, they rise up in their eyes. Surely this is a form of love.

As with most of what I write, I had intended to tell you about a girl who keeps the sea in her apartment.  The beach runs for miles and miles and she walks barefoot with her cats.  They all love the sea.  Cats don’t normally like water, but these two are different.  Her apartment is 620 square feet and she has decorated it with plants, Christmas lights, various screens, her paintings, her poetry, her blood. 

In her dreams she can see, Lae, the twenty-something walking the perimeter of the camp.  There are about 12,000 refugees and the camp has been open for fifteen years.  Lae walks at night and like an animal, her eyes glow.  She can’t sleep with the others.  It is too much for her.  The night is like heavy syrup, drowning her.  So, she walks when the sun goes down and she is swimming, desperate to stay on the surface.  The refugees watch her along the ridgeline, moving beneath the moon, and they think she is a malevolent spirit from the forest and the shamen have given her the name Lae, and it means dark or shadow, something hiding from the light, which is exactly the opposite of how Lae thinks and feels. 

So, I didn’t write about that, although it’s a good story, but a sad one.  Often things don’t workout for the people I have known, the people who I have loved.  Anyway, this is what I do here, in this little town in the mountains, as the days carry me outward across the sky.    


2 thoughts on “The Eyes Of Others

  1. Huh. No mention of dogs. I thought dogs had permanent, recurring blocks penned in on your calendar.
    I’m afraid were I in residence, they’d call me gruñón. That was my nickname when working in an electronics shop in Northern California. That or, when the senoras were feeling charitable, güerito (blondie).
    I suspect you have a nickname, or two… Loco Lobo? (smile)


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