it was a warm Saturday afternoon. the ice cream truck passed through the neighborhood, mi primo and I were playing soccer on the street. we ran home to scatter for some change. All i could find was less than a buck, so i wouldn't taste a cold Popsicle that day, but i bought a small bottle of lucas chili sweet candy. We ran back to his backyard which was like everyone Else's in the area, we lived in he projects, they were all the same, Easter hill they called it was to be a haven in the fifties but turned out to be a third world community in the nineties. An in the afternoon before the sun ran off after the stars and the moon treated on our skies we were allowed to play and not see the cars speeding bye, the dime bags being passed off, the shots flaring in the nightlife. It was fourth of july everyday. if you know anything about the city of Richmond, you would know that it was strategically formed into a triangle of violence with a set of projects at each point, i.e. corner. We jumped the small black fence and sat in his backyard, he went inside and brought out two coco-cola cans, we opened them and begun to indulge our palates in the cold caramel substance, a vile poison to our frail bodies. He asked me for some of the lucas powder, we would pour it into our left hand's palm and with our index finger dip it into our tongues, the sodium filled powder would tingle in our small tongues. it burned a little but then again we were Mexican, and like the stereotype goes we ate peppers and acids 24/7. Gerardo, had the ingeniously crazy idea of sniffing the powder, i rejected. I told him that it would be better if we poured it into our soda cans and drank a new drink "lucas-cola", it was going down the same tube anyways, no problem in mixing the two, later they would turn and burn in our intestines. I poured it into my can, took a sip and spat it out, We then went back to idea numero uno. I sniffed the powder. it burned as though someone had flushed car battery acid down my nasal passage, as though someone had stuck a pen or straw in my nostrils and lid them on fire... twelve years later i feel the same burning in my nose, but this time its not my childish play but a dreaded fluesh-allergy.
At a young age i learned that certain things don't mix, Lucas and coke don't mix, liquor and my mom, my atomic family and my extended family, English and Spanish, play and work, milk and watermelon, cake and orange juice, coffee and oatmeal, good and bad, tarot cards and the bible, public life and ripped jeans, Curly long hair and me. Sabado sensacional and church, rompope (eggnog) and summer, me and sickness.
my father once told me "i don't have the luxury of being sick", i thought he was trying to be poetic. But i soon found out that he didn't mean poetry at all, far from that my father isn't the type that sits down and reads gabriel garcia marquez or classical Castilian. If he became ill, we would not survive, i don't mean to demean my mother, they both have worked their arse off since i can remember.He meant that he could not afford to get sick and since then i have carried that inscribed in the back of my brain parallel to any memory of sickness. He has been hurting in his back lately, i hope he becomes well, my mother has been a sort of punching bag for this dreadful parody of life. I can recite the explicit words i have screamed at God in anger at the several time she has sat in the seat by heaven. in isle labeled ER. The countless surgeries, the countless curses i've raised to heaven in the dark alleys of my mind. I have become stoic towards illness, numb to the fact that it hurts, I have grown worry of a perfect health.
I have had this dream since i can remember, a countless story that repeats in my sleep, I've never told anyone this, but it recurs over and over. I see myself running in the thick of night, through a field of cars, a vast lot filled with red, white and blue ones. I am dressed in slacks, rolled up sleeves, a red bright tie, my hair is long, i run to an entrance, a bridge that connects the lot with the side entrance, I see my brother standing looking at me, in a cold stare, I see a nurse and an EMT run in, I am in tears, my feet thread pass through the tiled marble. All i hear is "She is dead", I see my mother looking from the entrance in awe, awaiting my entrance and it ends. I have no clue what this dream means, or who is "She"... It was 2001 around Christmass time when my mother was in intensive care, i remember saying "God, kill me first". And ever-since i see sickness as a passing cycle, a minuscule thing, as a small pebble in my path, nothing more. I don't have the luxury of being sick, of accepting it as a part of me. I don't need curanderos, just a four shot mocha, two Excedrins and a fifteen second plea to the sky..........