Dreams. Dreams are the glue of life. Without them, we obtain no hope, no ambition, no reason to even get out of bed in the morning. The point is, how can we make our dreams into reality? I, of course, am speaking about real dreams - not fantasies of high wealth, the perfect soul mate, or even world domination. Even though those three are dreams to some. Not I.
This life of mine - this life I abide occupied with madness, adventure, and wondrous mystery is halfway done. Albeit I have done things in which many deem repugnant or insane or reckless, I hold no regrets. Not one.
During the years, I have been lectured and suggested and downright scolded upon that I need to "settle down", "get comfortable" and the most dreaded "be more stable". Well, Dear Reader, I've attempted that and to tell you the truth, I fucking hate it. How dull. How maudlin. How outright insidious. I realize I have harped on this before. And, here it is again. Only with a difference.
Everything has a reason. There are no accidents.
No, my time/space location is not here. Even though I had been rewarded with a means to live a sedate and comfortable existence. That is all it is...existence. I want to live. And so, I begin my plotting to lay tracks….but where and how?
I stroll out my apartment and into the choking midday Tijuana streets to think and ponder. Amid crumbling masonry and dusty plate glass windows covered in wasted away and tattered posters, outside kind elderly sweep unrelenting filth with kind smiles and buenas dias as I make my way down the shattered sidewalks. I pass shoe shine boys vying to clean my leathers, taxi drivers on the hustle, wary looks from indigenous inhabitants wondering what this white-assed gringo is doing here. Two emo-fags swish by and give me the eye as I take a puff from my cigarette, giving them a solid Jack Kerouac B-movie production as I slip through the glass doors of the café.
The joint is packed. A cavernous room dating back to the early 1950's. Tables and booths line the cracked mirrored walls as a mammoth counter encircles the middle of the room. I locate a seat in the back at the counter and glance up toward an elaborate terra cotta work on the ceiling and the even row of original gas lamp works from a by-gone and forgotten era, now dangling with dust and verdigris.
Families sit with calm children in over-stuffed green leather booths, couples sneak loving glances across tables as elderly read newspapers of futbol scores and lottery numbers amid gesticulating colleagues chatting up the previous night’s skirmishes at bars and pool halls.
A bespectacled matron takes my order, "Un cafe de taza y juevos rancheros, por favor."
She smiles and vanishes in the chaotic ballet of the other servers; momentarily returning with a mug of delicious, hot coffee..
I sat alone slurping my coffee amid the thousand clinks and scrapes of utensils and patter in a foreign language and I thought, Only good can come of this venture. If not, it definitely will open doors to new experiences. A far better deal than simply lounging around an antiseptic con-apt in America watching television or chatting with people online who I barely know or will never meet.
"Do you speak English?" A voice next to me asks.
I glance over and notice a ruggedly handsome man with thick Mexican Indian feature grinning at me. He is neatly dressed, obviously American - or endeavoring to imitate the fact therein. Clean shaven with a long hooked nose common to his people. His short-cropped hair is jet-black with gray at the temples. Something in his demeanor told me he was queer or intellectually so. His eyes were sad and grey. They reminded me of a stormy Sunday morning or empty like used shotgun shells, just a hollow space where life used to be.
In broken English he repeated, "Do you speak English?"
"Fluently." I croaked. I had to admit, even though I was somewhat put off by his extreme good looks, with dread I was waiting for the inevitable pinch for cash.
"Are you visiting from San Diego?" He asked continuing to smile that smile which would melt any heart, cabron.
"No." I said. "Actually, I live here, that way." I thumbed behind me towards a row of silent, crumpling skyscrapers disused for decades.
Our brief discussion was quite pleasant. He related how he would like to talk more in English and had "un million preguntas." He introduced himself as Johnny - not Juan, you understand, but Johnny – Johnny Vargas. I introduced myself and threw caution out. I had no idea if he was queer or simply overtly friendly, but friends right now being in high demand on my end trumped a pointless lay.
We sat and chatted on a multitude of subjects, he in his broken English and me in my atrocious Spanish. He was quite impressed when I stated that I was a writer.
"Do you have any books here? I'd love to read them!" He said.
"I have copies at my apartment." I said.
"You live near here, si? Let me check them out." He asked.
My stomach was in knots. This is why I adore this culture so much. So friendly. Not mired in suspicion and arrogant distrust like Americans. Still never dropped the queer bomb, so I had no idea where he stood. I was hoping he didn't deteriorate into a hateful macho fuck once I told him. Once home, I'd have to. I mean, how could I discuss the subject matter of my writing without revealing the queer angle?
Johnny and I walked the few short blocks back to my trap. Once inside, I retrieved copies of my books. He smiled when I handed him one with PUTA emblazoned across the cover.
"What's this about?" He asked chuckling.
Okay...here it goes. I explained the story and subject with him. He stood there nodding, listening as I gesticulated wildly as only a writer can who is passionate about his work. After I was spent, there was a long pause as I allowed him to soak it all in.
"So...you no like the women?" He asked solemnly.
"I didn't ask you here to force you into anything you aren't comfortable with." I explained.
"That's okay." He mumbled. "No problema.”
I excused myself to take a piss. Offering him a bottle of orange juice in the fridge. In the restroom, I did my business. Took my time. Swishing Listerine around my mouth to get that coffee and cigarette taste out of my mouth. Opening the door, I was actually surprised to find Johnny huddling under my blankets on my bed. His clothes neatly folded on a nearby chair.
"Comfy?" I nonchalantly asked with a smirk.
He said "Ven con migo." (Come here with me)
I undressed down to my boxers and crawled in bed with him. We lay side by side with his arm under my head. His body, though rail thin, was so warm. I immediately began fantasizing of trailing my hand across his lean copper-colored torso. We talked a bit about his work, how he wanted to get to the States for a better job, a better life. Standard conversation. I was about to roll over and kiss him when I noticed he had fell silent and was fast asleep. I wasn't angry. The man worked all day. I would be exhausted, too. I simply snuggled in and embraced him. It was much needed. Human contact. Not virtual. An insidious setback which had plagued me recently.
Ten o'clock at night and Johnny awoke to urinate. I watched as he creeped across the cold tiles in saggy briefs. When he returned he mentioned he had to leave to go home. (Most likely to his wife. It wouldn't surprise me) He had to work early again the following day and lived far. However, he asked if we could meet again and perhaps go out for drinks. "I know this place has good cerveza and plays live jazz. Since you like jazz music."
I smiled warmly and agreed, got dressed and walked him to the corner. Before he made his way to his bus terminal, we shook hands. I lit a cigarette and watched him briskly disappear into the chilled Tijuana night. I returned home and, inspired, wrote more in my novel before crashing around midnight and dreamed of far away places both strange and beautiful...