I creep into your room, Abuela. Like an 8-year old on Christmas morning up 3 hours too early, but it’s 1pm and you’re still sleeping.
I decide to wake you. Call me selfish, but there’s something left in you that I need hold before you’re gone.
As your eyes open, I wait your face, trying to make sense of mine, trying to translate me into something you’ve spoken before And I know it only takes about 22 seconds, but I swear, it’s long enough for me to fall in love again.
“Abuela, yo soy tu nieta. Recuerda?” And there your eyes widen like football fields, as you reach for me in your back pocket, like a crumpled dollar bill you forgot you had, showing me that I have always been worth holding onto.
After we exchange short Spanish greetings, I try to keep the conversation going, but I’m not fluent, this language, your language was always bumpy road. So I turn the radio on to fill the pot holes in my tongue and we dance.
Let Celia Cruz lay the clues that stitch you back to me the lyrics pulling themselves over the gaps in your seams like a jacket covering the puddles in your memory lapses, synapses snapping, and though your mind is a retired dancer with two left feet, your spirit is a 22 year old woman, with legs that could wrap Christmas presents for days and hips that could make God want a lap dance.
Every chorus a question I ask like: “Abuela, how did you feel when it was illegal to wave your own flag?” Every melody, a moment to capture your history like: “Abuela, did you really walk 3 miles to school everyday?”
Every riff, a chance to end those sleepless nights once and for all: “Abuela, did you ever figure out how to stay in love? I promise I won’t tell a soul I know.”
See when we dance, we make corpses wanna boogie. You in bed, moving your arms conducting the skeleton of my body like a symphony
my hips, rocking back and forth, with a dip and a twist, kissing the accents in your favorite song’s lips, reaching for the dimple’s in your memory for me to take a picture with.
I can make you feel like when she was 22, growing up in a poor Puerto Rican town too high up to place on the map. Abuela, do you remember you yet?
And I know this just amuses you, but the truth is this was never just dancing.
You represent of part of me that people said I could never claim. You give me the language to speak my identity fluently, for the first time
this was never just dancing. And maybe it’s because I’m the only one that can get to you, the 22 year old in you, the joy, the smile that forgets to show itself on most days.
Abuela, you make me feel useful. You make me feel like I come from someplace, so who needs maps any way, I have you.
So go ahead Abuela, sleep – just not forever. Because you and I have a lot more dancing left to do.
A letter from the Shadows to LoveGlori (@LoveGloriMusic)
It takes some time for Shadows to adjust and acknowledge the light, assuming that you are in a brighter place, this letter might be delayed. Darkness is still, we know how fast light moves. Find it in you to forgive time.
May you also forgive the faulty language used in this letter, when hearts are broken; form and accuracy are impossible tasks for this voice to convey. I might be speaking from my throat, I’ve lost my heart in a song, the one that has now gone silent, found nowhere.
LoveGlori, though you don’t know me, you and I have been friends for a while now, I have spent euphoric days with you, gloomy nights, days of deadlines and frustrations at work. I always sat with you in a long drive of drifting Johannesburg taxi labyrinths. I remember how empty my little room was each time the door opened, with you still whispering ‘call me when you get there’ I called you, and through the copper cords of the speakers from the two corners of my round hut you would answer, the house filled with luminous seashells, colourless flowers and turning wheels, gods would dance in the clustered air before the emptiness, the little abode felt like a third heaven. How you warmed my cracking walls. You and I have met many times before, I carried you in my empty pockets when coins were too much of a job to attain. I remember you, calm your temper, I do not expect you to remember me. Though I’ve always been there, my eyes filled with fountains of confused waters, a nexus of both joy and melancholy, at every stage you once planted your souls. I know stages are impermanent things, they move when the show is done, but I gave you one of the immobile most rigid stages, I gave you my heart. The enchanting echoes of your tapping soft feet still live here. We know it is only these bodies we can leave here on this earth but our hearts continue through this perpetual trajectory of life, I will always carry you with me.
At the edge of both your voices, the divine harmony of a glorious night and breathing stars, I saw not just the mysteries of a life lead by sound and a desperate hope for songs not to end, but the many unforgettable faces of magic, behind you I saw men with angelic instruments singing open to the gates of a promised paradise, a man chewed on his guitar strings and birds flew out of our chests. Little boxes tied to their small ankles carrying prayers of change to a silent God that only spoke through you. I saw ordinary faces above shoulders of sad girls becoming beautiful with the hissing sounds of your obscure, signature, notes. Some lovers ran to your shows mute to one another but the music would bring their reluctant hands together and they would walk back to their homes having discovered a new love. One whose end is unfathomable. You became the permanent glue that put all broken hearts together, but like all magical processes are, some left with a longing, a longing to love and be loved, almost broken, but only taking a different shape. LoveGlori, the world seemed a beautiful place to be part of when you sang. Have you gone silent already? Have you looked back? Do you see falling houses? The breaking bones? The fatigued spirits? This is no attempt to evoke you back, we know time moves and all else should follow, yes, the natural order of things, but you were supernatural. You found loopholes between the solid almost airtight movement of time and sent all ears to the future or a forgotten past when you stood before those lifeless microphones, you are MAGIC!
Well, It is sad to stand here, hugged by these fixed, somewhat cold, Shadows, knowing that you have also been caught by the merciless hands of time. Broken as this heart is, move! You are allowed. The birds on your skins will bring you back together I know. Or at least I hope so. If not in this incarnation maybe the others to be born. You once stained our hearts with your Love and Glory, no metal or chemical or water or other sounds will ever erase.
The Shadows are not one to speak of Love, but I Loved you. Before this letter I believed Love was like Energy, never created, never destroyed but transfered to other forms, but now, I don’t believe that, the Love I have for you will never be transformed to anything, not from one body to another, not from one note to the next, not from one song to the other, not from LoveGlori to the next band, NO. It will forever remain; LoveGlori.
I know you don’t remember me, but I will always remember you, I will carry you with me through it all.
Yours truly, The hidden boy with Circles… Back to The Shadows.