A delightful, absent-minded professor with a passion for opera, married to Robbie who wanted to be Bob. Her signature: a 7 AM serenade on an out-of-tune piano. Years after splitting up with their son, they are family still.
Dinners at Raul's house: a huge homemade spread, tall tales and jokes, kids and friends home for dinner. The kind of atmosphere I always wished for. By the time decaf was served, Raul was asleep in his chair, snoring, content.
Lukas heard us speaking his language. That's how we met. He chastised us because "Fakt?"or "Really?" in Czech sounds to good American Christians like "fucked." He showed us Jesus slide shows, hoping to convert us to no avail.
A strange character of few words and many dreads who knew the closing time of shops; the magic hour when trash transformed into treasures. For fun, Dumpster D and crew would "jump Dravis," the steepest Seattle street, in a packed car.
He offered me gum before our first kiss freshman year. Was it my breath or a commercial he saw? At home he saw my Barbies, met my family, taught me some Tagalog. After that, he never asked me out again.
He kayaked to work across the Bay, dodging ferries and cargo ships. From his history class I remember nothing, but in woodworking I made a paddle for our trip to the Islands. Twelve teens in tents and canoes... and Gregg. Unforgettable!
Close high school friends, we wandered around the city: ping pong, pool, parks, Pike Place Market, hacky sack, classic rock, science, philosophy, gossip. The crisp smell of his leather jacket and his aloof ways sat funny in the pit of my stomach.
Helenka, the village girl, shared a room with her parents and had a mutt smart as a whip. Grandma wore a scarf and raised chickens, dad drove a garbage truck. We were: festival organizers, store owners, farmers, dj's at eight-, ten-years-old.
Why Alex and his father decided to come over and mow our lawn once remains a mystery. In return, I helped them paint a room for a Russian exchange student, joking: "As long as it's not pink." And pink it was.
Bucktoothed and long-toed, she walked with me to school every day. In the afternoons we did homework together. Lucky girl lived in a quiet, neat flat and had her own room where a fish tank hummed softly.
A girl in another world, but on stage everything clicked. She embodied Beckett. No one understood. A good friend hid from her affection: "The crazy girl's after me!" Heard she lived on the street and had a kid.
Ricoco, the photographer -- vest, scarf, and all -- would pick me, Terecua, up and take me to the squares, pyramids, and old market places, telling the horchata ladies we were married. His dream for us: a goat farm high up in the mountains.
Boss on a throne, drinking beer all night long, watching his busy bees waiting on patrons. "Try this!" he yells in the kitchen about returned food. "Nothing wrong with it!" Under his breath, the customers are bastards.
Gatekeeper of the knishes, eggs, and soups. A fifty-year-old hairdo, fire engine red lipstick sliding off into the canyons on her face. She swiped our meal cards, her brown beady eyes kind yet pleading like those of a dog trapped inside of itself.
An artists' son. A quiet, indifferent boy. We stayed in the woods too long till it got dark. I led us out, holding his hand, feeling for the smooth surface of the path underneath our feet. Slow steps in the pitch black darkness like walking under water.
I was a quaint alien doll who spoke in charming, mysterious tones. (Immigrants know). I forgive him. He was gentle and he indulged me. In his room I first heard Miles, music that cracked open a world the way shamans do.
I am one of many, embarking on this experiment. The idea is to write a short piece of poetic prose about 365 people I have encountered in my life, one entry per day for a year, using approximately the number of words, matching my age. I've stopped, then resumed, but I am resolved to take this to the finish line.