Today, while I was struggling, trying to wrestle some sort of idea into place so I could write, it occurred to me to write about all of my places, in order, explain myself through them. At first I thought one long poem, but now I am thinking a series. After 45 minutes of scribbling, two pages, I still, can not for the life of me find a way to explain el cafe in brief sentences, let alone long run ons. The best and only thing I came up with was "How do I show this to you without cutting open my heart and letting you look inside?"
How do I show you this place, perhaps a wall dissection, perhaps peeling off each layer of plaster, showing you what is hiding inside these walls, THESE WALLS, they are not any walls, these walls hold my history, these walls know me better than anything, anyone.
Layer one: I was raised on home-made desserts and folk music. I curled myself up on these uneven wooden steps and let the music lull me to sleep.
Layer two: What is a family? It was never a question that everyone was family, we gathered people by the dozens, lonely people, less-lonely people, anyone with a good heart, welcomed them into our happy home. It was all of these people that raised me, and our family was always/is always expanding. It is these people who taught me about love, that made love an intrinsic part of me, taught me what warmth is.
Layer 3: The music, the musicians, dirty, clean, crazy, sane, they would come in hesitantly or not-so-hesitantly, but never left disappointed. Have you ever seen music weaved into love, have you ever watched the way the lights dance off the guitar, watched the way the heads nod out of rhythm? Have you ever SEEN music?
Layer 4: Childhood, like any other childhood, but filled with more people. Not just my mother, father, and brother, but piles of self-declared Aunts and Uncles, who all took care of me as though it was no chore. Always treated me like I was a person, always listened to what I had to say, encouraged my self-expression, my humor, my desire to learn. Kept me company, kept me from ever being too sad, always kept me questioning if I even knew what sadness was. Taught me about people, most every sort of person, and how to love them individually, collectively.
How do I show this to you without cutting my heart open and letting you look inside?
Here is what you would see: faces, hundreds of them, smiling unabashedly, teasing me, teaching me, scolding me. El Cafe, it is not just a place (no place is just a place", but an idea, a family, and the story of our lives.
HOW DO I SHOW THIS TO YOU WITHOUT CUTTING MY HEART OPEN AND LETTING YOU LOOK INSIDE?
I will keep trying, forever, because it is too important, I don't want us to die before it is written down, on paper, proof that this place existed, can still exist.