Monthly Archives: August 2015

Avô

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You didn’t know him. In fact, if you did, you probably wouldn’t even like him. Growing up, we always heard stories about how terrible he was to his numerous children and to his wife. He was an immigrant who brought this family from the Azores to the United States to start a better life. I never understood this, in the Azores he had a good job and they did okay for themselves (from what I’m told). Everyone around us, judging him and talking about him as if we weren’t standing right there. “We” being his grandchildren, the people who saw a side of him that no one else knew or understood. Sure, we only knew him as our avô, but that’s just it…That’s what mattered to us. Yes, he was a hard man who rarely smiled and had a pretty aggressive personality, However, his grandchildren always made him laugh and smile. We were his weakness.

I remember the days when he’d watch me after school because my single mother worked all hours of the day and night to support us. He would walk to the school and we’d walk back together, hand in hand. I did most of the talking, of course, but he didn’t mind. He would listen patiently and finally ask if I’d like to help him in the backyard. He loved his garden, his pigeons and his paint. He ended up moving to a different town with my grandmother when my mom decided it’d be a good idea to move in with her boyfriend’s family. My grandparents lived in a small trailer where my avô had the freedom to plant and paint whatever he damn well pleased, and he did. I joke that the only thing keeping that trailer together, until this day, is all of the layers of paint. I spent a couple of weeks every summer at their house until I turned 18, after that, I visited at least once a week. I could sit and talk to my grandparents for hours, listening to their stories and advice.

My avô would sit at the kitchen table every day and watch soccer or some other crappy show on the Portuguese channel and complain the entire time. I think I was the only person who didn’t mind this, it always made me laugh. I would sit and vent to him about various things and he would just laugh and tell me how dramatic I was being. My grandparents didn’t speak English, so other cousins only really came around when their parents were around. I tried to make it a point to visit as often as possible since I lived so close by and I liked to help whenever they’d allow.

When  I became pregnant, my grandfather would always say he wouldn’t be alive to meet Victoria. The joy in his eyes when that day came was something that I will never forget. He would just watch her in awe, mostly  because it had been about 10 years since anyone in our family had a baby. Once Victoria started growing, she became more active and was no stranger to getting into trouble. When I would scold her my grandfather would knock me on the head with his middle finger and tell me to leave her alone…She’s a sweet angel. I always laughed at this and I would remind him that she’d be worse once the teenage years approached…In which he would remind me that he wouldn’t be around to see that.

 And he wasn’t.

        He fell ill, recovered, and then fell ill again. His hospital visits were becoming more and more frequent until finally he had to use an oxygen tank and was too weak to stand for too long. I started visiting more frequently, much to my ex’s dismay. I tried to keep things as normal as possible by doing what we always did with each other and following the same routine. I would walk in, give my grandmother a kiss, leave Victoria in the living room with her toys, and walk straight to the backyard because I always knew he was there. It was like he was waiting for me every time. I would call him from the door and he would whistle, letting me know where he was. It was always a hassle getting to where he was sitting, in the middle of his garden. Grape vines, tall leaves of Kale and various fruit trees he invested all of his time in, covered the entire area. I would peak through the hanging leaves and he would look up at me and smile while sitting in his favorite chair. I would give him a kiss and he would say, “you get uglier and uglier each time I see you”.

         This time, it was different, he was different. The process remained but his eyes were so empty. He looked so tired, but his humor remained. Right on the other side of his trailer was a cemetery, and we could hear mourners sometimes, it would always creep me out. He would say, “look at that, all I have to do is jump the fence when I’m dead!”, and I would giggle because it was uncomfortable but funny. I would sneak him packs of cigarettes because they’re what kept him happy. He had been smoking since he was 12, so quitting would just kill him faster. He would hang the oxygen tank hose on the fence and smoke his cigarette; sharing stories with me and joking about how my grandmother would kill us if she found out he was smoking. As strange as this memory is, it always makes me smile. He was always going against the grain, thinking his own thoughts, quoting his own words. I always admired that about him, he always reminded me to be my own woman and to not let anyone call the shots. He was my male figure at the time, the man I looked up to, there to give me advice when I needed it (besides my Uncle Troy). I hadn’t spoken to my father for four years at the time and didn’t start speaking to him until I left Robert.

         Shortly after when I went over, he was sitting on the couch with a vacant expression on his face, eyes glazed over. I gave my grandmother a kiss and walked over to him and sat down. He didn’t look at me, but I started talking to him anyway. He never responded but I knew he was listening, I also knew his time was coming and that scared me. His health deteriorated so quickly, I didn’t have time to take in what was soon to come. We’re never really ready are we? I got a call the next morning…He’s passed. In my kitchen, making breakfast, I turned everything off and walked to my living room. I sat on the floor, I had no idea how to feel or how to react; I felt so empty, so confused, I couldn’t even cry. I left my daughter with my ex and drove over to where my family was, it wasn’t until later that day that it truly hit me. He was gone. Who would pick on me and call me “too skinny” now? Who would tell me that boys ain’t shit and my daughter would punish me by being just like me? Who would paint the trailer and take care of the garden? Who would twist my ear when I said something stupid? Or talk about soccer with me? Or sit in silence with me and stare out at nothing, in a garden near a cemetary?

             I didn’t know. I just wanted him back. I was asked to write a eulogy in Portuguese 30 minutes before the funeral, which I was fine with, but I was nervous and scared and sad. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, if you could believe it. The service was beautiful and so was my cousin’s eulogy. I had no one to vent to or cry to during this time since my ex kept telling me, “Oh, my dad died, you’ll be fine and get over it. It happens everyday”. Not a hug. Not an, “it’s going to be okay”, nothing. I’ve never seen my grandmother react the way she did that day, in fact, I had never even seen her shed a tear before that day. She sobbed and begged for God to bring him back. I stood up to speak at the podium and I was surprised at how many people showed up to pay their respects, he didn’t have friends and didn’t talk to his extended family. It was nice to know that there were those who actually cared enough to show up, even if it was just for my grandmother’s sake.

           Months later, my grandmother had someone gut the entire backyard. She said she just couldn’t take care of it by herself, but I think it was mostly because it hurt her to see it. I think about him a lot. I remember one day, a month or so after I left Robert, Victoria came to me in the early morning and gave me a big hug. I smelled cigarettes and Old Spice in her hair and on her clothes, it was the strangest thing. No one else was in the house, it was just us, and she smelled just like my grandfather did. I couldn’t hold back my tears,I just held her close and she started telling me about a dream she had. “Avô was there and we were at the beach!”, she exclaimed. I looked her in the face and asked if she talked to him a lot and she said, “yes mommy, all the time!”. I am Catholic, but I never believed in any of these things before she came to me that day. Every once in a while she’ll talk about him until this day, or the smell of cigarettes and Old Spice will wake me in the middle of a dead sleep.

I miss him so. He’s taking care of us, I just know it. It’s been three years this past Monday, and I can still picture his piercing blue eyes.

Him.

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I will not call this blog a “Dating Chronicle”. I will not go on and on about how horrible this person is, or how pathetic. I will not be cracking jokes about him or pulling out a laundry list of things that are wrong with him. All of the above are not necessary.

Michael. 

I met Michael through a mutual friend in the most unconventional way, through her Snapchat of all things! She posted a video of herself at a Portuguese bar and the rest of the people she was with.

“Who’s the blonde?”

“Oh, that’s my friend Mike, why?”

“He’s handsome.” Very handsome. Very blonde. Ew I don’t like blondes. That beard. He’s Portuguese, I said I’d never date a Portuguese man again. Ugh you always say that but there you are. Who cares that he’s blonde, he’s totally cute. 

“Say no more.”

A couple of days later I got a message from Michael on Facebook asking me if it was okay that we talk. I couldn’t help but laugh and give him a hard time, “Of course we can talk, there’s nothing wrong with talking”. We messaged back and forth about where we were from, his family, my family (which know each other might I add) and hit it off. He asked for my number and it went from there. We text everyday but it seemed like it wasn’t really going anywhere, it was all very cordial.It took me a moment to realize this is how a respectful man treats a woman, this is how I deserve to be treated. I decided to spend my birthday in his neck of the woods (he lives about 1:30 hrs away and in my favorite city mind you) with our mutual friend and a group of other friends. I walked into the Portuguese bar I initially saw him at in the video, and there he was. At a whopping 5’2, his 6’0 stature was startling. He just looked at me.

“Hi.”

“Hi…” Hi?  “How are you? What, you can’t give me a hug?”

“Yeah…Yes”

Hi? Hi?! I had to force him to give me a hug. Wow. I came to terms with the fact that he probably just wasn’t all that into me after meeting me for the first time in person. His friend was sitting at a table eating and he called myself and my sister over to talk to him which made the environment less tense. We talked, laughed, and I became more comfortable. So what if he doesn’t like me…NEXT.He ignored me the entire time we were there. My bitter thoughts flooded my mind. There are more where HE came from, pfft. 

We all decided to go to a different bar so he closed up shop and came with us. I decided I’d ignore him the rest of the evening and just move on. There are PLENTY of men at the bar who will want all of this *shake shake*. We all walk in and it is a pretty decent bar, the music was great and my spirits lifted immediately. It was my birthday after all people! I started interacting with everyone and suddenly I get a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey, come take a shot with me.”

“Umm…Okay?” *evil stare* Oh now he wants to talk! FINE, I’ll take your silly shot but I’m not gonna like it! Who does he think he is anyway? Just treating people that way? Oh I’m cool now huh? I’m worth your time suddenly? Psha whatever. I’ll show him.

I didn’t. I didn’t show him. We sat at the bar and he bought me a shot. We talked while everyone around us got plastered and danced. We talked while our friends told us to take more shots (which we did) and made us dance. We talked about why he was being such an ass and his sorry excuse. We talked after he apologized. We had so much chemistry, I didn’t want him to stop talking. I realized how much I loved to watch him talk. Every move I noticed. The way his hands moved in the air. His knitted eyebrows when he was talking about something that concerned him. The way his crows feet showed when I made him laugh. His smile. The way he crinkled his nose when I would deliberately say something to annoy him. All of it. I was so attracted to him, being around him felt so natural.

We started seeing each other each week and talking more and more. He understood me so well and never judged me because of what happened to me in the past. He was a good listener, he was sweet, he was romantic, he was very honest. It was so refreshing yet sobering. He has two children who are the world to him and he respects that my little one is my world as well. That’s the one thing that I respected about him most, he’s a good dad; he always spoke of his children. He was very honest about why it didn’t work and very honest about the type of person she was and is, but he never spoke of her maliciously. He constantly talked about his children, and talked about how much he missed them when they weren’t around. His children are beautiful and I kept thinking about wanting to meet these two small people he created with his ex-wife. Wondering what they were like and if they’d get along with mine. Wondering how mine would feel about him. Of course, we agreed that neither one of us would be meeting each other’s children for a while for obvious reasons.

The moment he asked me to be his girlfriend, like we were two 14 year old kids standing in the middle of an ice cream shop, made me realize that he is what I’ve been looking for all of these years. There’s nothing to be scared of because I’ve made up my mind. Is it happening too fast? Sure. Should we slow down? Maybe. We’re not rushing into anything that would affect our children since we haven’t met each other’s children yet, so why worry? All I know is he was brought to me for a reason and it feels so right. I’ve never felt this way about anyone and I think that’s what scares me. My feelings towards this man are completely unconditional and he has made it very clear in so many ways that the feeling is mutual. He doesn’t only tell me…He shows me every single day.

I’m not easily impressed, yet he impresses me. I’m not easily wooed, yet there he is making me swoon every day. I am NOT the type to get butterflies, but every time I know I’m going to see him I can’t help but feel like a giddy teenage girl. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it’s always memorable. He always makes me want more of him. More laughter, more conversations, more discussions about how ridiculous it is that I like rock because I look like Malibu Barbie (after the children of course), and a deeper understanding of each other on every level we can think of. He’s also the type to not put up with my shit which is excellent because I definitely won’t put up with his. We balance each other out. He opens up to me and makes me feel comfortable enough to open up to him. He understands my constant battle with my ex as I understand his constant battle with his. I like that I have the ability to calm him. I like the way he looks at me with his big beautiful green eyes. The affection he shows me. The way he goes out of his way just to see me smile. He makes me want to do everything I can to make him happy. He makes me want to do better. He makes me smile. He makes me want to send him stupid sappy e-mails telling him that I miss him when it’s just as easy to send him a text. For those of you who know me, know I am not this way. He makes me less of an asshole. Years of bricks piled up, suddenly collapsed by this tall, amazing, passionate man.

Normally new relationships are very basic and they blossom into something more meaningful over time. With Michael, our connection had more depth than any connection I could’ve possibly obtained with anyone else. I’m scared. I’m anxious. I don’t know what will come of this or how things will turn out. I don’t know if it will last a lifetime or just a few months. I don’t know if he’ll get tired of me and my shenanigans or if he’ll find them charming. I. Don’t. Know.

But we never really do, do we? Faith is all we need and a little bit of elbow grease.