House of Cards

Summer’s here! I love summer!

Last year, we played monopoly all summer long! Playing for a few hours a day & then sliding the board back under the bed before mom came home. This went on for days – even weeks at a time. We would finish one game and then start all over again.

If was fun playing, because it kept us entertained but mostly because we got away with something – we got away by hiding this from mom & dad. Shortly before they got home we would hide the game & then complete our chores.
highway in our minds
Getting away with something gave us a new kind of freedom. A freedom I’ve never known before.

Sure enough Daniel & I would have our room cleaned, our beds made and the toys put away.

This summer we started a different game. I don’t know how we started it but by 12noon we had drawn on the wood floor, in chalk, a roadway for our toy cars. It was pretty elaborate with exit ramps and even bridges and tunnels. It started in the kitchen, stretched across the dining room and into the living room.

We even had several boroughs of New York streets with highways to connect them all.

We drew, till our hearts content, of highways and roadways. Of freeways that flow past the confines of this city.

We drew of country roads where dreams peacefully meander under the cover of tall oaks. We drew of byways and crossroads that serve as arteries. Filling our hearts with the blood of adventure. Our minds travel freely and dream of the road trips we will one day make.

Every bit of our imagination and creativity was spread out across the wood floor of our home. Scribbled and measured as if we had engineered where we were going.

Our wings spreading over these byways like eagles souring high above the scenery. Free to go anywhere and free to dream of anything!

We used my collection of baseball cards to make the bridge and tunnels. We would play for a few hours & then the cleanup would start. Mop the floor to get rid of the chalk lines; put the toys away and complete our chores in time for mom & dad to get home. All to allow the dreaming to flow freely over again the next day.

Day after day, we have fun! And day after day, we are free to imagine anything we want. The world is ours and we are free to create it as our own.

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Spring Cleaning

This morning I was woken up by the sounds of a vacuum cleaner and loud music coming from the stereo. I throw the blanket over my head because I don’t feel like getting up.

Looking out the window, I see a beautiful Sunday morning. The sky is bright and a beautiful shade of blue with only one or two gray clouds.

That cloud is casting a shady spot as it rolls down the street as it heads towards my front yard.

I close my eyes, fall back asleep again for a few more minutes hoping that the gray cloud would just go on by.

Again the loud whirling of the vacuum cleaner wakes me up. I give in and decide to get out of bed and head downstairs for breakfast. The sounds of mom’s Spanish music fills the air as I descend down the staircase.

Loud, upbeat and a happy mood fills my mother’s way of being. I guess she is enjoying Spring cleaning…

“Mom, can I go outside and play?” I ask her excitedly.

“Sure, after you clean up your room.”

OK that sound fair enough. I can do my part of the Spring cleaning chores. I run back upstairs, make my bed and put the dirty clothes in the hamper. Again I charge down the stairs and I’m heading out the door, when my mom asks…

“Did you sweep and mop the floor?”

Oh no! “do I have to do that?” I challenge her.

“Just do it! Then you can go out and play.” was her reply.

While I mop, the music filling the air is soft ballads from the old country. They are love songs and patriotic ballads from Ecuador. I thought nothing of it. She would always play sounds from back home. It was music from her youth & her old friends. The ballads sang of hope and heraldry for the love of our country.

About 45 minutes later I am done mopping the floor & cleaning out the bucket so I head downstairs.

“Mom, I’m done! I’m going out to play…”

This time there was no reply and she is nowhere to be found. The music style had changed and now there is a love song on the stereo. It sings of missed opportunities and love that cannot be.

It was melancholic and a bit dramatic.

I guess mom is missing the old days…

Anyway, where’s mom? I start searching for her & realize that she was in the front yard picking tomatoes for lunch. “OK mom, I’ll be back by lunchtime.”

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asks as if she forgot our deal.

“out to play…”

“No! Go and clean the upstairs bathroom.” she demanded

“But mom, you said I can go out when I was done with my room…”

“Now you need to do the bathroom!” she insisted.

Begrudgingly I went and did it. “Well, If I can go out and play after that, then it won’t be so bad.” I justified that to myself.

Again another 45 minutes passed, but I was done! Now I can go out to play. Heading down the stairs, the music still blaring, I hear my mother crying. This time the music went from melancholic to downright sad. It sang of loves lost & the longing for days gone by. It sang of missing out on what life has to offer.

Oh Boy! She is in her sad mood.

This time I try and sneak out the door. “Where do you think you are going?” mom stops me.

Again, did she forget our deal?

“Umm, outside to play with Leo.” I reply

” No! Not with that mocoso! Go to your room!” she yells. “Why mom?”

“Because I said so…” was her reply.

I look out the window & see that that gray cloud had decided to linger a little longer. It starts raining and I guess I’m not going anywhere!

I could see that, like that cloud, her mood has also turned gray. A sadness welts up in her eyes and a single tear rolls down her cheek. Immediately she wipes it off and turns so that I would not see it.

My mother always has to be strong and never allows us to see her vulnerability. But today I did see it and I can understand her pain. She gave up a lot to come to the United States. She gave up her education; her career; her friends and family; her hopes; but most of all she gave up her future & dreams so that we can have ours.

Once in a while she allows herself to feel this. I don’t think its of remorse for giving up her past but out of shear loneliness. Having to bear the burden of bringing up five kids – practically alone – in a new world can be a daunting task.

Carrying a heavy burden is daunting…
but even worse having to do it without much support from dad.

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I Know We Can Make It

I am no longer in my room upstairs. I have moved down to the basement into my brothers area. It is by choice since I am having a hard time dealing with the sounds of the gang fights.
havok star - Ninja ToolsBeing down here is going to take some getting used to. There is Karate stuff all over the walls. Nunchucks, uniforms, ninja stars.

“Daniel, what are those ninja stars for?” I ask him.

“they are called Shurikens, They are for throwing at your enemy! You never know when you have to protect yourself.”

Wow! they look pretty dangerous. I have a feeling I know what he needs to protect himself from.

“Forget that! pass me my shirt, I need to iron it.”

I reach over for his shirt on the bed and hand it to him. I forgot about the ninja stars & just kept checking out this place. There are no windows down here. Just some weight equipment on the floor & Disco music spinning on the turntable. Tonight, my brother is getting ready to head out to the Disco. Ahh! over there, up agaist the wall is my new bed! That’s where I can put my stuff.

Over in the bathroom, my brother continues getting ready. He is blow drying his hair, applying some cologne & ironing his bell bottom pants. Boy! I am not a fan of disco & that music is blasting!

“We can make it, if we try
we can make it, touch the sky
we can make it, if we try
we can make it, get on high”

As I lay down on my bed, I close my eyes and just imagine Donna Summer’s words just running thru my head. (MP3)

For some reason the lyrics seem to have a calming effect on me.

Suddenly I get the feeling that just by being down here, things will be better. Being with my brother & seeing his space, I feel that yes, we can make it…

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