listening to tracy chapman reminds me of…
being at the university of san francisco, age 19, had just gotten arrested for doing civil disobedience on the home of the school of the americas (soaw.org) on a military base in far from home, georgia.
it was at this time that i had been studying with a few of my most memorable professors about cosas socialistas, etc. concepts new to my mind but not my heart.
the getting arrested is an experience i may write about at another time. but for now, i want to write about discovering tracy chapman (and all who were involved), my sister who showed up for my trial, and this darn melancholy that doesn’t leave me alone. sort of a hodge podge of colors arise when i think of tracy, S, my beloved melancholy, and a “4th” for now silent experience i carry related to tracy.
i recall days of staying up all night, hanging out with friends, attempting to work on papers due the next day. so many beautiful amistades, the experience of not sleeping and stressing over what at the time we felt was so important. la vicki, who would stay up way later and way more often than i ever did, she- dedicated to her writing as i had never known anyone to be. J- who was with us for but a year before she came home to sunny southern california, la em, who studied socialism as keenly as i, el handsome M who we all crushed on even if we were lesbians in the making, A- el otro guapo, roaming with us as we asked questions and sought answers, the loved beautiful Bee who i keep close in my heart, and so many others who crossed my path.
that time in my life was like re-living the part of child-hood that was good. the “be so curious” till you drop energy woke me early and put me to sleep late. the many, many sunrises experienced con vicki, my best of friends who spoke to me in her sleep. yes, we were that close!
and of course, THE Sara(h)’s and their Carlos. the revolutionaries who my eager mind sought to learn from. and there was Duffy and the Jesuits who taught me about a liberation theology that i had not been exposed to in my 18+ years of catholicism…funny how us catholics happen to OMIT certain truths from our everyday sermons. and of course the 2 g’s, so different and a like at the same time. y la vio, margarita, y Deb…a trio of gorgeous smiles and laughter, each brilliant in their own ways.
and then there was me. so incredibly hungry for experience and understanding. my sister, desperately trying to understand me and my changes. trying to support the woman i was becoming. the woman who she had so intentionally helped foster in me. i wanted her close to me so bad that i hooked her up with my adviser…um…no comment, please 😉
missing my home and not missing it at all, i spent my days walking the hilly streets of my new city. a city who welcomed me in and coated me in new information. she challenged me in much needed ways and offered me friendships that could support my transformations. for all of this i am grateful.
and back to tracy, her solid voice reminds me of all this time when the ground work for guadalupe was being laid. at this intersection is where my beloved meloncolia arises and sets for longer than wanted. she stays unwelcomed today. surely trying to teach me something that i don’t want to learn in my protected state. protected? sometimes, i can’t help but walk around a little protected too.
the hallmark holiday season is here and i am not at all ready to pretend that hanging out with family is fun or for that matter, healthy. instead, i seek the comfort of my old friends and comrades, i seek the safety of the soon to be visited desert skies, softness of the desert sand, las cruces sunset’s, and S’s comida and warm hospitality. wishing la vicki can join us but instead sending her mis amores from this space of memory and longing.
the feeling of “i can be someone” was born con ellas y ellos, in those cold foggy san francisco days. y ahora, aqui en los angeles, i know that the projects and communities i am a part of make me that someone who i had longed of being…a member of an active community in search of a better world. together we walk with inquiry and curiosity, mezclando our ideas and literally helping each other survive whether that “help” is emotional, financial, psychological, or all of the above. creando teatro, cooking together, o simplemente creating spaces for us to memorialize our successes and losses, honor our dead and celebrate with much joy this life that brought us all together, even if for just moments in time.
and for all of these past and current gente en mi vida, with a smile i dedicate this song that at one time, blew my mind…em- i think you will remember this one 😉
*i tried tagging as many of the above mentioned amistades (friends) as possible, hopefully my walk on memory lane brings a smile to your face…hope your all walking esta vida con una sonrisa 🙂