Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Mon Amour

The human ability to adapt is both a blessing and a curse, as Dostevsky so aptly put it.  To survive is remarkable but soon turns tragic when you get used to a situation that is worse than animal. 


Similarly Haiti, the horror and the heartbreak lead to incredible moments of poignancy.  But the squalor and the absurdity of the situation are nothing to celebrate. 


On top of it, the place is over-run by Aid workers who slowly fill up the restaurants and bars.  I was in one yesterday filled with internationals laughing and drinking in revelry while just meters away the homeless and the sick wait out their fate in makeshift homes in camps.  I supposed it's trite to write about these usual scenarios and I was there too.  Though everyone wants a piece of this action for whatever reason, a travesty attracts the businessman, the do-gooder, the preacher, the poet and the prophet. 


There are daily strange encounters with different people and the varied reasons of why they are here.  It feels like a big party.  Who knew disasters were such fun.  And so many young white women; intelligent, well meaning, photographers, free lance journalists, students.  They are not the only ones but the ones that most stick out to me.  If anyone single handedly has benefited from female empowerment; it's me.  Wonderful for my love life, so I don't mock them, I just find it funny that's all.  I don't know why.    


My seductive powers tend to fall flat on cheerleaders.  But if they've read Milan Kundera – watch out.    


Everyone trying to make a mark, sincere, but adding in their special way to the circus of disaster relief.       


There is a deep desperate need to see real suffering and to do something about it.  The need to sacrifice, to be heroic is just as important as food and shelter.  In this way a fair trade is taking place, between us and them.    


We are both spirit and flesh, and forever the two shall joust.  It is what makes us human.     


And now normalcy sets in.  For those who have and have not both, with the usual hierarchy; the cruelty and injustice.


Communism, socialism, imperialism, colonialism all gave us someone to blame, some direction to the anger the human condition provokes.  Now, no longer.  All problems are technical and a due to a lack of proper coordination, management.  Or it's the fault of those who suffer, of governance and corruption.  And when that fails there is always bad luck to blame.  The Gods.  Fate.  Destiny.  This makes things a lot less emotionally charged.  Hard to get riled up over faulty bureaucracy.


Some countries export cars, others terror.  Haiti will export the threat of chaos, and constantly seduce with its limitless potential.  1 hour away from Miami, so close, so far.    


Success will require a strong response, though already the aid industry works under many contradictions and disconcerted efforts.  Would you want the tower of Babel to rebuild your country?


I'm a bit dismayed and confused by all this.  And the ways forward all lead to the same dead end.  If ever there was an argument for authoritarianism, this is turning out to be a splendid one.


Though I get down by the impossibility and absurdity, there is something intensely exciting about the atmosphere and work.  I am developing a lustful relation to the energy.  It enfuses every aspect of my life with deep meaning.   Boundless opportunities arise to make things move.   


It is also hard not to be struck by the images of the people in the camps and streets.  It's not the misery I speak of, though there is plenty of that to go around, but the joy, smiles, a form of solidarity that emanates in the strangest of times.  I see it on the women selling their goods in wheel barrows and in the children as we patrol the camps at night.  Little hands come out of the darkness to hold mine.  All this endless cordiality and laughter in such despair.   


And you look up and see a whirl of kites soaring above.     


There is hardship, so much is lost, the future uncertain and a hard rain is going to fall.  But humanity and love burst forth.  Dare I say happiness?  Not the kind of happiness we seek in America, or anywhere in the modern world.  No.  We don't really know what happiness is, so we go searching for it.        


Real happiness is a survival mechanism.  When you ain't got nothing, it's the only thing that saves you.  What keeps you going, and it comes to you when you hit so low, touching that space where you end and God begins.  The poor and destitute are religious not because of ignorance.  It's because they feel the presence of the divine directly because they have nothing to distract them from it.


They feel the elements and thus fear them and pray.  They know hunger and eat joyously, and share what little they have.  They die suddenly and live and dance like no tomorrow.  I don't envy them, but am humbled by their natural spirit that takes this situation and makes it theirs.  With their distinct heartfelt mark.           


Haiti mon amour. 

Santo Domingo

Passion and its vicissitudes in a University billiards bar, with hot Caribbean girls who make me feel things inside I never knew I had. It’s sad to know what you’ve been missing. But change has to start somewhere, and longing and loss are always good beginnings, though it hurts.

While we work and struggle with nonsense up North these tropical darlings live and fuck effortlessly. I’ve seen this before, I’ve been here. It was a salsa club in Medellin, I went there during the afternoon and was having a drink as the sunlight beamed in. 70s Salsa blaring, I had it all. The girls, the drugs, the money, the life and it wasn’t enough.

I told myself I come from a great civilization, not like these passionate monkeys that don’t know what tragedy and suffering is. They’ve never had to fight war. Build cities, raise armies, invent the number zero. Fuck it, the Mayas don’t count.

Rackety rack go the balls all over the table and the sound makes a nice back drop to their coy glances. I smile and they smile back.

They touch me with their innocence. The joy of youth is a lack of self – awareness, not knowing what they got – till it’s gone. They’re Roman candles aflame, piercing the stillness of time with their light. Nobody knows when or how it will one day end, vitality.

Nothing worse then growing old. Don’t let them fool you. It’s all downhill, all the time.

So these girls and boys dance, as I watch them perversely from my bar stool writing these very words to capture their attempts of making the carnal, eternal. Colors everywhere. If this isn’t truth, I don’t know what is.

I want to make love, all the time. The older I get the more important it becomes. I have a purpose: Every girl is a part of my constellation. I want to look across, before the big sleep, one last time towards the heavens and see all these starlets come together over me; their sum greater than their parts, somehow making sense of my story in this desolate land.

Each woman is different but they are seduced in the same way.

I went after a woman before making my way down here. She lives on the Upper East Side, alone. I felt here body move to my beat. I took her with one eye on the Manhattan skyline, looking through her window at the bright lights, big city. You really can’t take the Queens outtta the boy.

And in the morning a bagel with lox and cream cheese with a black coffee to celebrate.

The refined gringo pleasures.