Memories Carved in Writing: Argentina (a break from my regular blog)

1/18/2019: The gourd sits on my table. A gold-carved design caresses its top. Equally ornate metal straws sit inside. The gourd was once my father’s, used for drinking Yerba Mate, a tea Argentinians drink as a national past-time and obsession.

My father’s bombilla remains with me although he left almost two years ago. It reminds me of him and his beloved Argentina I just came back from after three weeks traveling the country with my love. We flew into Buenos Aires—a city of rich culture, as ornate as my father’s bombilla, but not a place my father raised his family. After celebrating the holidays with friends, we visited my father’s apartment—a place he resided in for many years after working elsewhere in the world…a place where he’d found his “heaven on earth” 20181227_175809.jpgbefore leaving this earth.

A couple now live there, up the old circular stairwell and marble floors, behind the wooden door—of another era, of the “Belle Epoque” style, as my boyfriend pointed out—that leads to what was once his apartment. My father’s love for his apartment was so grand that it seemed the walls sung back to him, and even cried upon his departure. They had swallowed all the joy once shared there—the feasts with friends and family and a place to come together as I had with my father toward the end of his life. They marked an era in my father’s life—beyond the hard work, and years as an immigrant away from the place he loved—where he could truly feel alive, as if for the first time.

As we visited Buenos Aires, a city whose beauty is comparable to Paris, we felt its struggle, its eternal battle with poverty, corruption, and runaway inflation. How could a place so rich in culture, art, and literature, with an ornate elegance49338783_2038176952936784_1508593347025960960_n carved into its walls as it was in my father’s apartment, struggle to live? Why do so many people like my father, or my boyfriend, have to leave this country to live well?

As we journeyed through Argentina, its complex history traveled with us… from the streets of Buenos Aires, which seemed to have more bookstores than any other city in the world—including Boutique del Libro, where I presented my novel, Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espíritu, for the first time in Spanish—to the mountains and lakes of the south where I fell in love with its duendes, its nature spirits, that they sold as dolls and puppets in stores (I brought back with me these duendes in exchange for copies of my novel I left with them. It’s not every day that I meet others whose creative work, like mine, honors these duendes!).

We also traveled further north, to Córdoba, where my love grew up, to a sacred land that offered a safe place to remember Argentina’s past, to years of military rule, of painful struggles for an entire country that has learned to make the most of what has been.

20190109_174056~2I was reminded, as I plan my next journey to Spain, to my childhood home, where I will share my novel, that the land knows all…that the land that resides within us, always knows what has been, the history of our childhood, of a nation’s struggles, and waits for us to return to her, to remember, to feel the pain and beauty that lies behind it.

I am home now, in New Mexico, here with this ornate gourd sitting on my table. It is a piece of history that carries a spirit, as did the walls of my father’s apartment. It holds a part of my father and the country he so loved that he couldn’t return to until the last chapter of his life.

Aren’t we all like my father’s gourd, carrying a piece of history, a piece of this earth that has lived the good and bad? In late May, I will soon be like my father’s gourd, carrying a piece of history, a piece of love for the land that raised me—for Spain—that I will return to with my novel, Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espíritu, which is about duendes, nature spirits, and the spirit of a place that never leaves us…never leaves us, even if we’ve tried, many times, to leave her.  

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of returning home to the earth inside and all around us. It’s now available in Spanish as Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espiritu. Click here for its Spanish Version on Amazon , its original English version on this Amazon Page or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore or directly from me (for those outside of the U.S.) as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

59. Springtime Without You

BLOG 59—March, 2000: I’m sharing a poem from many springs ago, as I prepare for this spring’s surprises…a grieving of the old…a rebirth:

Spring locks her jaws into the hard earth,

a pitter patter of rain seeking refuge inside.

The windows shut, now open,

the moon peers through rows of empty branches,

Seeing something I don’t—

tulips growing light green stems below the soil,

pink horizons yet to appear over cool blue oceans

transformed by summer lights.

The wolf is a shadow that lingers three steps behind.

I turn to witness that all along I’ve not been alone.

I turn inward, see myself in her shadow.

Sleep in the shadow, rise in the light.

I have seen your love somewhere in this winter night.

Rise with the daffodil, yellow mind,

Springing days of sweet herein,

I see her—that is, springtime—coming.

In about a week, I return to Buenos Aires, to be in mye99b26d974466ec2594813bb5fb281e7 father’s apartment, to let the memories of our times together seep through the walls, and along the streets of this port city. It’s springtime here again—that time of the year I used to spend with my father in Argentina, his childhood home. It was two springtime’s ago I was there, and, I think, two years before that—as the days lengthened here in the north, but inside the shadow of spring, prepared for winter in the southern hemisphere.

I still remember the first time I spent with my father, just he and I, in his beloved Buenos Aires. He had never visited the port city in May, because he would normally be with his Portuguese friends playing golf then.  He had only come to Argentina because I had requested we share time together in his favorite city.

I still remember now, how, as we traipsed around Buenos Aires, he’d often tell me that they missed him there in Portugal, and that one friend had said—and I paraphrase—“The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

He repeated those same words back to me, after I had returned to the U.S.. I was driving through the big open lands here in the desert, on my way to a Lakota Sundance, when he called and said, “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

This morning, as I sat still with the reality that I will soon be in Argentina again, in my father’s apartment, but without him, I began to cry. He left us several months back, but it hadn’t really hit me fully until now. I 9629058698ceb27fa8bf177e5d8b15c8.jpghad been with him for many weeks, until the end, in my parent’s home in New Jersey, but I hadn’t slowed down enough to let the grief catch up with me. Maybe I’ve been holding the grief in my lungs, which have been congested for weeks now, and am finally feeling the reality of my father’s loss.

As I reflect on the fact that I’ll be back in Argentina soon, but without my father there, I feel his words echo in my mind. “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.” But this time, it’s me saying these words to him, as I feel the love that he shared with me and so many others close to him in Buenos Aires.

“Spring time won’t be the same without you there, papá, but I’ll feel your love wherever I go.”   

If you are in Buenos Aires on May 26 at 5:30p.m., please join me (and if you can’t make it, please tell friends who can come) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. (See my website’s events page for more information: http://www.michelleadam.net/events)

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

Open Letter to My Father: (pause from regular blog)

It’s been more than two months since you left, your last breath a cry of life and then you were gone. When I’m still enough to feel and listen, I sense you here with me. In several weeks, though, I imagine I’ll feel your presence even more. That’s when my mother, sisters, and I will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, staying inside your apartment tucked away inside the old quarters of your city. It once lay above the empanada shop that smelled of oven-baked dough wafting up toward your place, and then the hairdresser’s where I replaced, with decent hair color, that horrific henna hair color that made the top of my head look like a carrot—and which you kept touching to make fun of.

If I remember correctly, the last time I was with you in your beloved Argentina was two spring times ago, before you got too sick to travel. We planned another trip after that, but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead, chemotherapy was. But I still remember how you asked me, quite last minute, to join you in Argentina for that last spring time together. At first I declined, since I had made alternative plans, but then, with your persistence, and lots of maneuvering, we shared our last month in your beloved country together.

That was the time my upper back was in immense pain and you couldn’t walk much more than a block. We were quite the team, eternally riding taxis through Buenos Aires, with you incessantly IMG_1174talking to the drivers and everyone else we met. “Isn’t this city the best city in the world,” you’d tell the taxi driver. You’d sit there in the back with your little black bag you carried everywhere, beaming with joy for your childhood homeland you had returned to.

One of our last taxi rides together was to the fish vendor. Do you remember? Even though walking was a struggle, you insisted we stroll through an open market where you greeted everyone as if you had been there a hundred times. Then we went to your fish vendor to pick up a large, frozen octopus, which you insisted on cooking because your friends considered it one of their favorite delicacies.

We celebrated our last supper in the apartment with your friends, Loli and Herbert, and with your sisters, Ingrid and Dietlinde. What a glorious night. You had worked so hard cooking that octopus, and by the time we sat down to eat, and I dedicated a poem and song to you—and to the brief time we all had to celebrate life together—it seemed all worth it.

While you faced your challenges with age—Parkinson’s, Leukemia, and then Melanoma—there was something special about those final years together. You were no longer the tough, distant father I had known you to be, and your challengIMG_1165es became the gift that opened you to love. I adored how you talked to everyone you met; how you let things go that weren’t important; how you didn’t care about things being perfect anymore. What had become perfect was your giving heart, memorable dinners with precious friends of your childhood, and your unbridled passion for small things (like that ice cream you loved at Adan Restaurant—the one topped with champagne and lemon!).

Maybe when mom, my sisters, and I go back to Buenos Aires later this month, we’ll honor you with a scoop of that fine ice cream; or by taking a trip by taxi; or by greeting the man at the deli across the street, and all the others you used to speak to. What I do know is that family and friends will come together with you, celebrating your life with an abundance of toasts. I’ll make a special Last Supper in your apartment to honor you as well (I’ll even take a picture of it, and make sure you’re in it!), and I’ll do a book reading from my novel Child of Duende with a local Flamenco guitarist in your neighborhood.

It will be the first time that I perform anything outside of this country, let alone in Argentina—and it may be the last there. As much as I’m doing it for myself, when I share the story of Duende to Flamenco guitar, it will be for you as well. You’ll be able to see me there, in your favorite city in the world, en tu Buenos Aires Querido, sharing, as you did, Argentinian Eventmy passion for living this moment, this breath, this spirit of life that is only given to us for this brief moment. I hope you can come, that you can see me, that you can see and feel all of us honoring you where your heart had learned to open so big in your last years of your life, at home, in your Beloved Querido Buenos Aires.

Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top 

carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video