I know you from somewhere

I have lived in Austin long enough to know you if I saw you before when I see you again. I have a good memory for faces but not always good in placing them or their names.
I may not know your name but I used to see you at Emo's in the early 90's. Maybe I saw you at parties when Austin had tons of parties and you could go to seven in one night or you hung with friends of friends or worked at Quacks when it was on Guadalupe or that book store where Denim Edge was or I would see you at the UT gym, hmmm by the way, remember Les Amis and their onion soup and black beans, anyway, or maybe you were part of the University Grotto or maybe you just came into that vintage store I worked at or hung out with those people I ended up not liking too much but hung out with for awhile anyway because they knew my roommate or maybe you came to my big party in 1996 or lived across from my apartment or maybe we had a class together or we could have been in that student film in the mid 90's or hey maybe you were at that audition for Snake Tails, maybe we'd wait at the same bus stop waiting for a shuttle or a bus or you could have been in the group interview to work at Central Market that one time or maybe you worked at that fast food place in the Union and I saw you when I went to see the John Cassavetes movie series and Seymour Cassel was there live and in person or maybe you sat in front of me, next to me or we met while walking out of Husbands or maybe you were at that swimming hole or record store before it went out of business, maybe it was in the bathroom at Liberty Lunch or maybe at Magnolia's after a show or at a Mr Fab show or during one of those first SXSWs when Crust would play at the Ritz or darest I suggest I saw you at a Retarded Elf show or hey you may have come to see a rental I was trying to sublet or maybe I saw a rental you were trying to sublet or maybe it was when I worked at that bookstore or at Ego's or maybe just walking down South Congress before it was SoCo and there wasn't much there so I'd know I seen you or maybe you used to go to that park near Elizabet Ney's or maybe just on campus when I started working there or maybe it was just at Starseeds, Tamale House those few times I went or maybe a hike at the greenbelt or was it Mt Bonnell or maybe it was at Enchanted Rock with a group or once coming out from the backyard of that house on 37th St around Christmas time and you were going in, or at 21st St Co-op or Family Thrift or maybe you were in a line at the Paramount (vague recollection), or was that line at Basics or were you there when that guy was dancing with a lizard crawling all over him to a Depeche Mode song or was it Fiesta at 2am or when I worked for that telemarketer downtown,maybe it was Emo's but I have seen you before and keep running into you from time to time, but I know you, sort of.

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Preparations

This morning I woke up after having a dream about my Abuelito. I dreamt he was there at the house in Los Mochis. He won't be and I'll be facing that for the first time when I visit. I was watching La Boheme when, for some reason, I went to the window and looked up at the sky. The clouds were arranged around the sun in such a way that makes you think of those tacky, dime store paintings about God and heaven. I thought, My Abuelito has died today. I sat back down to finish watching the opera and memories of him distracted me. Earlier that same year I had a similar experience when there was another death in the family. I didn't know if all this was real or just melodramatics brought on by the fact that I was watching opera and my mother was in Los Mochis, called there because her father was ill. A few minutes later I got the call and my mother said,"He's gone."

I went outside and sat on the stairs then the tears came. I had not seen him in years. I passed on a few trips because I was in college trying to cover all I could over the summers. If only the trips could have been taken in between the semesters. Did he know this, thatI was doing what he said and getting an education? Now I wondered, did he know I loved him so much and thought of both him and my Abuelita everyday and planned on seeing them again and visiting Los Mochis once I was finished? I cried and felt guilty for not putting family before college for at least one summer. A butterfly caught my eye in the distance, it was huge and looked as if it could barely carry the weight of it's own body. It danced around a little closer, I cried hard, butterflies meant something, but then the butterfly flew towards me. Usually anything benign or not coming towards me makes me skittish but instead I looked straight at it and didn't care. It landed on the tip of my nose and I didn't know how to take this. My Abuelito had loved butterflies, he painted them with such precision in his later years that they looked as if they were dried and mounted. I let myself take this as a sign, one that I didn't quite know the meaning of just yet. It sat until I said in my mind,"Te quiero mucho,Abuelito".

After that day I began to think that if I never returned to Los Mochis, Abuelito and the rest of my family there would forever remain the same. No one has to pass on ever again. I was unable to travel there once I started working because it had become so expensive. I missed everyone but the idea of walking into the house and having to face facts didn't appeal to me, but I missed everyone terribly. This developed into a thing over the years. It's what I would think about when there was nothing to think about,what I would worry about when there was nothing to worry about, it was: When would I go back to Los Mochis, how. There were a few attempts that fell through. Never enough time from work, always something. My Abuelita came to visit me in Austin twice already.

I have to keep reminding myself that there won't be the same sleeping arrangements there used to be when I last visited in 1989. Those family reunions when the whole family stayed at my grandparents house and slept in every room, three bedrooms, a living room, den and office. I would sleep on a cot in my grandparents room. It was a rather large room and I would sleep near their bureau. I would always sleep there whenever I would visit and was envied by the other cousins because it was spacious and comfortable. I would move my cot as close as I could to their bureau so I could catch the sound of the window unit a/c and the scent my Abuelita's perfume along with the faint scent of my Abuelito's paints coming from their closets and drawers. I was a rather morose kid because I did this with the thought that there would be a day I would never smell these scents again and I wanted to take them in as much as I could. I was right except they have managed to last me decades.

We all catch the world from so many points of view that involve all our senses even when we think it's just our eyes catching what is tangible in front of us, it never is. So I am hoping that though the house has changed, the city has grown tremendously, my Abuelito is gone, there will be those little things that no one can really see or change that will still be there to soften the realization I will be facing.