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Dreams I've Known, Lives I've Loved

Dreams Ive Known, Lives Ive Loved

At times I can feel the presence of my maternal Grandmother electrifying the air.

She's always accompanied by smooth, dripping Jazz, phantom ivory tickled by invisible digits, blistering notes cascading through the charged atmosphere, falling beautifully in syncopated harmoniousness.

They're Maryland snowflakes twinkling in the awakening Hawaiian sun, adding fresh color to picturesque beaches known the world over.

Now, a trumpet bobs and weaves like an aural pugilist within the sonic arena, and my maternal Grandfather has arrived.

Young again, spry and charged with the vivacity of the blessed and enthused, arm in arm with our Queen, sauntering and splashing to the rhythm of the forbidden.

Though my fantasies are a few decades too late, I've always imagined them in a speakeasy, defying the ridiculous rule of Prohibition, growling through the roaring Twenties with a zest for life unknown to our entire generation.

Clad in a charcoal pinstripe suit, matching fedora tipped tastefully to the side, thick mane of jet black hair peeking out in rebellion, unencumbered by the heavy pomade he undoubtedly favored, Grandad flung, tossed and flew Grandma around effortlessly, providing the counterpoint brute force to her easy flow and flawless grace.

Brown hair bobbed up, rouge framing her delicate yet strong features, she was a stunning starlet accustomed to the rough side of life, tough as granite but gentle as a bed of gathered, garnished feathers, harboring a loving heart would carry, guide and sustain generations of her lineage even after she was called to rejoin The Lord.

They glide preternaturally across the sawdust covered dance floor, whirling furiously, in perfect unison with the raucous band.

The denizens of the vintage bar, hidden beneath the developing urban sprawl of an indeterminate city crawling through its infancy in the deep South, chug moonshine from large gallon jugs marked with the stereotypical 3 X's.

Suddenly, I materialize at the counter.

A man in a straw hat always turns to me to converse, and as I strain to hear him above the rowdy din of the establishment, my eyes shoot open, and the mundane darkness greets me.

        We will never be as great as they were.

Cowboy boots, boxing gloves, weathered tools and bottles of Corona intermingle visibly, a jigsaw puzzle of odds and ends, coalescing into a mural representative of my paternal Grandfather's life, work and play represented equally fitfully.

Im 7, saucer eyed and inquistive, and as I exit the den, the carpet turns a shade of violet, and an old TV plays novellas casually in the background, a soothing white noise, Mexican muzak, lulling me into relaxation and contentment.

The room tastes of tamales, enchiladas, chile relleno and, the coup de grace, fresh tortillas.

Lard and flour cake the kitchen in random spots and chaotic patches, remnants of the esoteric, timeless ritual of my paternal Grandmother's culinary sacrifice, gleaned cheaply from the priests and priestesses of the local carniceria.

"Mijo, come sit. It's time to eat.", my Grandma declares.

Eagerly I comply, greedily eyeing the delicacies laid before me at my mercy.

"Papacito lindo!", my Grandad shouts, lifting me from my chair and peppering me with kisses, as my beloved Grandma chastises him in rapidfire Spanish for tracking mud and grime into her sacred dining room with his perpetually soiled workboots.

It's always struck me as strange that Spanish, a language I speak with the proficiency of a mute that had his tongue cut out and his mouth sewn shut in reality, is reproduced with such alarming alacrity in my dreams.

Before we begin our enticing meal, we bow our heads and say Grace.

My Grandma recites the prayer in English, the invocation she performs inspiring me thoroughly, her love for Jesus both breathtaking and imposing.

At the devotion's conclusion, my view begins to zoom out as if I'm an unwilling director begrudgingly panning the camera away from a perfect family scene.

My Grandad toussles my hair lovingly and playfully, and my Grandma kisses my forehead as she makes her way around the large mahogany table.

Light floods my vision as my eyes emerge from behind their lids, and I'm stricken with a longing for south Texas, my true, ancestral second home

  Remember who and what you stem from. You   are the product of an unbroken, ancestral.         line. Act accordingly, and honor your blood.

My russet cowboy boots, colored a deep, rich sepia, are caked with dust and gravel.

Well worn at the heel, they peek out from the bottoms of my frayed, torn, dark blue Levi's.

Kickstand down, joints cracking, I make my way toward the rustic diner, a mom and pop greasy spoon that embodies classic, traditional Americana.

As I lumber over in its direction, body stiff and lacquered with ruddy sweat, I crane my sunburnt neck back and gaze over my thick, rolling shoulders, subtly grinning with pride as I behold my steel horse.

Matte black with minimal chrome, stripped of all unnecessary accoutrements, I lustfully admire my Harley Davidson Sportster 883.

Over the last several weeks she's taken me from Texas to Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

Now, I'm back in California, enveloped by my favored, serene country backdrop, the sloping hills and yellow straw begging my weathered, weary spirit to relax and stay awhile.

I revel in the marvelous landscape as I enter the eatery.

Stevie Ray Vaughn serenades the vacant pool tables and row of shoddy, suspect slot machines.

Truckers intermingle with potential prostitutes and local drunks at the rundown bar.

Coffee percolates with a hypnotic staccato, dark as a Sailor's humor, undoubtedly as bitter as his third ex-wife, with harsh yet disgustingly satisfying taste to match.

The echo of grilling meat ricochets off the tobacco stained walls, its delicious scent just as pressingly potent.

Content and smiling, I am home.

I take a stool, and a plate of runny eggs, sunnyside up, accompanied by sizzling bacon and crunching, burnt hashbrowns appears miraculously before me.

I drizzle the delicacies with salt like a blkzzard and pepper like falling ash, and notice aghast in my peripherals a series of blue, camoflauge uniforms.

As I swivel my head to look, I'm greeted by several friends I knew in Virginia, Brothers and Sisters I haven't seen or spoken with in years.

I open my mouth to speak, but water spouts forth forcefully.

I've become a spigot, and, mired with incredulity and lost in the terrifying ridiculousness of the moment, I panic.

This brings a cacophony of laughter from my peanut gallery, and as I fix them in my vision, they all, to my horror, begin to melt.

I begin weeping as they disintegrate before me, transmuting into a mess of salt, rubble and bone.

Inexplicably, my entire body shoots to my right, pulled by an unseen magnet, and I'm met by my family.

"It's time to come home Gino", my Mother whispers.

I gaze back, and find an ocean has overtaken half of the diner, with my old ship set to sail away into a glowing green horizon, preparing to enter the afterlife of my memories.

All of her Company stands at attention, saluting, eyes locked straight ahead, epitomizing the classic thousand yard stare.

I return the honor, smile, head outside, and ride away towards the sunrise.

The wind dries my flowing tears harshly, and as it rushes down the curve of my upper back, I hardly even bat an eye.

                       Me in 2 years. #BGnation

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