Road Trip

The ping drives
The cans fall on the floor
They roll to the front
And then they roll back

Whispers from afar
It sounds like a refrain
I once knew, knew well

A steady clink appears
It moves forward
Building upon itself
While the Florida heat
Melts the pavement beneath

The bottles roll again
Crashing underneath the seats
Forced to hit the breaks

Whispers grow to a shout
They tell you that it all matters
Then the murmur drowns it all

Beat, upon beat slow down
All to a trickle ends
Leaving us wet and tired

October Haikus

Since my birthday in August, I set out to write a haiku everyday. Here are my October Haikus.

October Haikus

10/1/11
Tinges of summer
Left in the air, for you to
Humor me again

10/2/11
When our cozy bed
Only has you within it
Does it feel empty?

10/3/11
Are these verses trite
Do they tell you anything?
Do they just bore you?

10/4/11
A filling vessel
Growing in size everyday
It’s your love inside

10/5/11
Close to tears sometimes
Emotions do multiply
No rhyme and no reason

10/6/11
Roads lead us somewhere
The future spans well ahead
Hoping that it waits

10/7/11
Yesterday you died
The sadness surprises me
For I didn’t know you

10/8/11
Two days in a row
Allow death to the forefront
Goodbye Ireland dear

10/9/11
Above the low clouds
I feel like I’m in heaven
For I’m next to you

10/10/11
All the simple things
Acquire infinite meaning
When you are present

10/11/11
Best way to relax
Spending a long night with you
A heaven on earth

10/12/11
When you aren’t looking
I wonder about focus
With me you look ahead

10/13/11
Platitudes abound
Charity begins at home
You make it real

10/14/11
Returning back home
The happiest time of day
You are there waiting

10/15/11
A monochrome world
Infused with perfect color
In red you arrived

10/16/11
Simple household tasks
Now steeped in endless meaning
For the care you bring

10/17/11
Yes, in a month’s time
I will read this very line
Having seen old Spain

10/18/11
It is not game time
Ideas are required
Still love is the prime

10/19/11
We waited all night
People were angry for it
You made it all love

10/20/11
Do you see through me
When I’m blinded with despair
As when I’m in love

10/21/11
Emotions come forth
When faced with utter beauty
Traveling through ages

10/22/11
At the second pass
The power of ages past
Again overwhelms

10/23/11
Up high in the clouds
As natural now with you
As being home talking

10/24/11
When toiling the fields
Was the way of working men
Politics matter?

10/25/11
“Communication
Always leaves me incomplete”
The boys said it once

10/26/11
Your laugh echoes deep
My heart rejoices above all
You just smile again

10/27/11
And I grow nervous
When all upcoming events
Come to the forefront

10/28/11
You again soothe me
With all your words and your touch
You are all magic

10/29/11
You my special star
Appear in my dreams again
In life and in sleep

10/30/11
I have erred, I know
Please do not let go off me
You’re the air I breathe

10/31/11
In just a few hours
I’ll be where my ancestors
Struggled for eons

August and September Haikus

Haiku Everyday

8/15/2011
A delicious time
That moment when it strikes you
Laugh in abandon

8/16/2011
When I have to rant
You lovingly assure me
That all is not lost

8/17/2011
Even when away
You are thinking about us
How we can be close

8/18/2011
When you are playful
You remind me how serious
I thought you were once

8/19/2011
Holding you so close
Feels like the world unending
You are start and end

8/20/2011
Remember the night
When we were close yet
Thousand miles apart

8/21/2011
Seeing things anew
Your eyes show me more, as I
Get to live again

8/22/2011
Show me what you want
Your gentleness inspires
The night is for us

8/23/2011
Guide my hand, oh Lord
For I want to be the man
That she sees in me

8/24/2011
When you were a child
Did you imagine me here?
Your world is mine now

8/25/2011
Even in silence
We still talk to each other
A waive or smile

8/26/2011
Beautiful face
Curls framing such a smile
Love anew each day

8/27/2011
Your fingers curling
Around the steering wheel
We move through space

8/28/2011
Nervous meeting her
Your friend from long time ago
Not sure the reason

8/29/2011
Hurling through the sky
Has only been fun with you
What’s it about you?

8/30/2011
Home is not a place
It’s nothing less than just you
You are frowning now

8/31/2011
End of the month now
Away from you for hours
Feels like a small death

9/1/2011
In a scale to ten
You are a gazillion
I pick I’m the judge

9/2/2011
I love to watch you
At night sleeping and dreaming
I’m the luckiest

9/3/2011
Astounded by the
Observations you make
It’s a sexy brain

9/4/2011
A calm radiates
As your hands glide over me
Body soul soothing

9/5/2011
We walk hand in hand
Down the crowded city streets
All can see, I’m yours

9/6/2011
When I hold you tight
It’s not that I am clinging
I’m recording life

9/7/2011
Such serenity
Existing within our home
Oh awaken one

9/8/2011
What did you see there?
You drifted, looking away
Such green eyes I thought

9/9/2011
A long night away
Turns into a fun escape
White Mountains ahead

9/10/2011
We went in circles
But as always seemingly
The right direction

9/11/2011
I worried all night
Was it a restful night then,
In cold mountain air?

9/12/2011
“I love you” I say
Words are so inadequate
How can I tell you?

9/13/2011
A unit we form
In repose and in response
To a world of hurt

9/14/2011
Words invigorate
Arriving at mid-morning
And carry me home

9/15/2011
Five seven five verse
Written daily for a month
All for you to read

9/16/2011
When patience knocks
You invite her for coffee
Visit as needed

9/17/2011
Silliness abounds
A force that sustains our life
But yields to our love

9/18/2011
Our journeys become
A way to be together
But always be home

9/19/2011
The city noises
Filter up to our small room
It’s good to be home

9/20/2011
An off-Broadway play
Feels just like one in High School
Were we really there?

9/21/2011
Do you enjoy cabs?
If we lived here I’d be broke
Some way to travel

9/22/2011
Each moment stays fresh
Like it’s to be lived anew
When you are around

9/23/2011
Deftly your hands move
Dance not choreographed
Magic in motion

9/24/2011
When did I last say
That you have been my savior
It has been too long

9/25/2011
I’m much more in now
Since you came into my life
Don’t tell the Buddha

9/26/2011
I’m in awe of you
Is there a thing you can’t do
I bet you’ll speak Greek

9/27/2011
Some days get away
The unimportant takes over
I should stop and write

9/28/2011
The crisp autumn air
Brings me a sense of decay
Your love removes it

9/29/2011
While on the drive home
The anticipation starts
When I think of you

9/30/2011
I can be too much
But your patience with me
Makes me so thankful

Looking For My Roots

A few years ago I decided to help a friend trace her roots. It was an amazing process, made so much easier by the advent of the Internet, and the good people from the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Yes, the Mormons. The Mormons have this practice of baptizing their ancestors to help them reach Mormon heaven. Apparently, until we are baptized into LDS when we die we all hang out in non-believer limbo, which is probably a place where you get to drink alcohol, caffeine, and watch Project Runway all day. When we are rescued by our descendants, who have now moved to Utah, and have voted in Mitt Romney IV as the new president, we get to go to the heavenly kingdom. I picture it as Provo, only blonder, more conservative, and with lots of Osmonds. By the way, I hereby forbid any of my descendants to baptize me. I want to see Mondo lose again, while I sip a cappuccino. It is my special kind of hell.

LDS followers have done such an amazing job of tracking their ancestors that they have launched ancestry.com, the largest online genealogy website. For a price, you can sign up and if you have the time and inclination, and you are lucky to have had someone already do the hard work, you can easily trace your roots back to the old country.

I paid the twenty dollars it cost then, and began to work on the family tree. In about a year, I was able to trace her family tree back to the ninth century AD. My friend, who always had this idea she was strictly German, came to find that she had roots in France, Ireland, Wales, England, and various Germanic areas. I spent another month writing the story of the family in narrative form, lest anyone got tired of reading the tree full of “Hans and his son Hans.”

In the process, I learned a lot about European history, but more importantly about early European immigrants to the US. One of the more interesting bits was a diatribe by a conservative loyalist to the Crown, who was besides himself about the latest influx of lazy no-good ungodly Germans that were arriving to New York, and Philadelphia. He talked about how the government had to close the borders to these dirty people. I guess conservatives just don’t change.

Once complete, my masterpiece, that took me well beyond ancestry.com, and that exercised my dying ability to read German, was delivered to my friend and her family. The document was passed around getting some lukewarm reception and quickly abandoned for a plate of cookies. I had to remind myself that it was the journey that mattered. My learning was worth the twenty dollars, and the hours spent on the project.

A few weeks later, another friend asked me to help her do the same. This time I got lucky very quickly, and was able to serve her with a family summary that someone else had done for a very distant cousin. She was excited to find out the story of her great grandfather who had moved from London to Jamaica where she had married a young lady. The family always suspected that the young lady was mulatto, because many of them had dark skin. I found census records that showed that she at least passed as white, when they moved to New York City during the early twentieth century. She loved the story.

Of course, during this time I tried to do the same with my family roots, but apparently records in Latin America either aren’t very good, they haven’t gotten unto the Internet, or LDS hasn’t converted many of my cousins yet. Most searches ended on dead ends.

A few years ago National Geographic launched a project to perform analysis of Y-chromosomes (of course men designed this) of indigenous people looking for genetic maps of human migration from our original African ancestors. The project continues, but they have been successful in mapping a general pattern of migration starting in and around sub-Saharan Africa, out to the middle East and up to Central Asia. The Central Asian group then divides into a couple of European branches, branches that goes into Asia, and another that goes into the Americas. Those branches divide further. Interestingly, aside from those in Africa, the earliest related branch to the original humans are not in the Middle-East but are the Australian Aborigines. They are unclear on how this happened, but they seem to think that a branch quickly moved through India out to Australia, before any of the branches in other areas cemented.

After years of starts and stops looking at bits of what I could find, I decided to participate in this study. My genetics tell me that thirty thousand years ago, my paternal Cro-Magnon ancestors settled not far from where I sit right now, in Spain. Ninety percent of Spaniards, as well as Irish, and seventy percent of Brits, also share this ancestry with me. I found these facts a few weeks ago just in time for my first trip to Spain. The facts are not much of a surprise, as I clearly know where my family comes from.

My biological paternal grandfather was a fair skinned, blond man with green eyes, and small stature with the last name of Ruiz. He would easily blend in with the crowds I have seen today in Barcelona. I know nothing more about him. I don’t even know what his first name was, as I’m sure he’s not with us; he’d be in his 100s now. My Nona, never married Señor Ruiz; he was already married. Gladly I carry her surname instead, Jimenez, an incredibly common last name in Spain and all former Spanish colonies, that means nothing more than “Son of Ximeno.” This Ximeno fellow has ancestors in places like the Philippines, Guatemala, Spain, and my native Colombia; not to mention the US contingent that sometimes has allowed idiots to change the name to Jiminez. I have often thought, why don’t they just give up and just change it Jimson or Jameson?

Anyway back to the Ruizes, I don’t know when they left this peninsula for the new world. If it was early in the 16th century, it was possibly just a single male Ruiz who was with the hordes of Conquistadors looking for gold. If it was later, as I suspect from Señor Ruiz’s description, it was possibly a family looking to move up in social rank. A Spaniard family in the colonies would be placed in an instant as high society. The story goes that his family was a well to do family, as was my Nona’s. He was an older married man, and she was an impressionable and naive teenager. Her mistakes, two of them, meant she lost her status and was shunned forever from the Jimenezes, and her children never were acknowledged by the Ruizes.

The paternal line is a complete blank from 1492 to mid 20th century for me. I can easily imagine that before Columbus, my ancestors were in the ebb and flow of Western Europe, once just simple hunter gatherers, then farmers or fishermen, under the rule of Rome, or the Moors, or whatever local King was in power. One day they picked up, left, and landed in the shores of South America, and made it inland. They met others that had also made the trip, or had been in the land before the Spaniards, and continued the line.

My Jimenezes are also a mystery to me for the same “mistakes” Nona made. They also were of fair skin and well to do, which belies direct Spanish ancestry, but since we were cut off from most of the family, we grew up with no stories about the past. Once when I was 7, I asked Nona about where we came from. With a glint in her eye, she looked around and whispered “some of our family are from la bella Italia.” I told my Dad this many years later and he shook his head. He’s not one to speak badly of his blessed mother, he simply answered “I never heard that.” Nona was a flighty, naive, capricious, but tenacious woman. She could have just imagined that. I like to keep her flight of fancy alive in my daydreams. I know my ancestors lived in Spain, but why not Italy too?

I had some success with my maternal lineage, more precisely my maternal grandfather’s line. A nice lady from New Orleans did a great summary of the family, that I stumbled upon one night searching the web.

The story goes that sometime in the 14th century there was a King or Prince in what is present-day Ciudad Real (Royal City), Spain. He fell in love with a Jewish/Sephardi woman that had my grandfather’s surname. Being a royal of a Catholic territory, he couldn’t take her family into the palace, so he build a town just north of Ciudad Real that bears the name of her family, where he relocated her family, when they married. She converted to Catholicism, but her family was allowed to keep the Jewish faith.

A couple hundred years later or so, in 1492, Spain united into one kingdom and expelled the Moors back across the Mediterranean. Feeling Catholic piety, the King and Queen began a process to cleanse Holy Spain from those that were unfaithful to the Pope and Rome.

The Sephardi across Spain had to decide to stay in the country and convert, or leave. Some converted but in secret kept the Jewish faith. To prove that they were no longer Jews, they ate pork regularly, and came to be nicknamed “Marranos” or pigs. Often they were scorned and said to smell like the pigs they ate. Many were burned at the stake, or suffered worse fates at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. Funny enough given the amount of ham I have seen since I arrived to Spain a week ago, it seems everyone is a Marrano in this country.

My ancestors didn’t stick in Spain. Some moved to France, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Those that stayed in France and Ireland eventually changed their surnames to match local spelling and converted to Catholicism or Protestantism. Some that stayed in the Netherlands moved East and commingled with Ashkenazi Jews in Northern and Eastern Europe. My ancestors took a different route.

During the colonial race between the superpowers of Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, the Dutch were having a hard time finding men or families to move to the New World under the Dutch flag. They offered any European, regardless of background, to move to the Dutch Antilles, or Dutch Guyana under the Netherlands’ flag, and receive Dutch citizenship and land. Many Sephardi took them up on it, including my ancestors.

As it always has happened with the chosen people, they couldn’t stay too comfortable in one place, and had to move west entering Venezuela. Of course, that brought them back into the purview of the Spanish Inquisition and finally they too gave up, and converted to Catholicism. One of my ancestors became a well known revolutionary who helped Simon Bolivar, the great General that defeated the Spaniards and liberated five separate colonies from Venezuela to Bolivia, to begin his campaign. Sometime between the mid-19th century, a branch of the family moved west once again arriving in Colombia.

That is the one cool story I have of my ancestry. The glitch however, is that I can’t directly tie my family to those in the little town in Spain. The Original researcher, and I had to assume that given that the name is very rare that all of us that share it came from the same place. Tomorrow our train between Barcelona and Sevilla will be going by near that town. I wonder if there will be any kind of ancestral recognition, if that could even be possible.

During this trip, all of this has been top of mind. I keep looking at those that are Spaniards, searching for a slight feeling, a gesture, something that makes me feel like this is indeed my place of origin. It’s not easy given that at least half of the Spanish-speaking people I have encountered are not Spaniards. Also I have probably heard more English spoken in Barcelona, than Spanish. It doesn’t help that the local Barcelonians speak Catalan.

I may not have had a feeling, or anything cathartic happen yet. The truth is there is no denying I look like these people. I don’t feel like a dwarf walking around Madrid or Barcelona. I blend in easily, something I haven’t been able to do in thirty years. I bet I could actually buy clothes at the stores that actually fit. So yes, I’m home. The home of most of my ancestors, at least. The home that was once stolen from part of them, or the home that was willingly given away in search for a better one. Funny enough, I’m not a Catholic, or a Jew. I speak Spanish only about 1% of my usual day. Pero, esta si es my España. This is my Spain.

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