Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Long Beards Meant Patience - An Experiment In Words

Sun. Stronger than Los Angeles. Hot and wet in Cordoba. Still the gypsies. They wear thick layers. No matter how rosy their babies cheeks get. They ask for dollars. We give coins. No. Dollars. They say. They are greedy. We learn to give nothing. To ignore. Their voices. We live here now. We learn like locals. To not find sorrow in such pleas. Tea houses are of the past. Kept on cobblestone streets. When the Muslims. The Jews. The Christians. Lived here in peace. 500, 000 inhabitants in the latter half of the tenth century. Then most populated city in Europe. Perhaps the world. Time when learning from each other took place. Before bus bombs. Midnight raids. Before long beards were something to be afraid of. When they meant wisdom. Being a patient man. Over past few years over 3,000 immigrants have died en route to Spain. More security systems. They take more dangerous routes now. 
Water pipes. Hookah. Shishah. Nargeela. Pots of tea. Refilled by our Morrocan friend. Asden. Suenos de Andalucia. Like a dream. The tea relaxes us. Makes the tiles on the walls more blue. Seem closer to our faces. Makes everything seem like a dream. I ask him in nervous Spanish. Where I can find hashish. He smiles with small teeth. Says here. Asian girl from San Diego. In my program. Tells us little kids pull eyes with their fingers when they pass her on the streets. They say. Chino. Chino. Her family is from Thailand.
The mullet is back. Even handsome men. With mullets turn ugly. Cold beer. Olives in a bowl. Afternoon snack. Half of non EU immigrants in Andalucia from Morocco. The Moroccans sell scarves in the plaza. One looks like my dad. Has same round belly. Jolly smile. He tells me he’ll give me a discount. Only if I buy two. I buy three. Mostly for the discount. Simpsons in Spanish. Same stories. Voices higher pitched though. Throws everything off a little. We watch this every day over lunch. Maria is too young to be my mother. But here she is. Making me ham and cheese sandwiches. Frying everything. Re-using grease. As if something precious. There are no vegetables in this house. Today instead of Simpsons. A family stands on a roof. A neighborhood sinking in New Orleans. 
            Asden invites us over to his house. Further than where we usually go. No cab will take us. We take the bus. He wears a crisp dress shirt. A table covered. Feta cheese. Warm pita bread. Chorizo. Hummus. Dates. A bowl of grapes. He’s taken his time with this. I eat the feta with fingers. Think of my mom. Her loss of appetite. How many more months of chemo. Windows open for more air. Asden rolls hashish joints. Four of them. Passes them around our circle of five. Almost one for each of us. As soon as one leaves my hand. Another arrives. Feels like we are sitting for too long. Everyone feels like their own planet. Made of different things. Far away from me. My planet. Through the windows a loud flapping noise. Three of them. Too loud to be birds. We duck. Run into the other room. Watch Asden hit blurred black with pillows. He looks like a warrior. They fly back out. He closes the window. Bats he says. Just bats.
More things fried. Still the family stands on the roof. Someone videotaping this. Someone watching this close enough to help. Someone can show us this. Someone can get  higher ratings because of this. But without touching this family’s planet. Someone can put their hands out and reach. But doesn’t. Everything is covered in water. 

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