During an afternoon with Miguel, with audio recorder on, homemade peach mimosas, and fat french toast, Miguel shared one of his most challenging projects and bit about growing up in Colombia. He’s kind enough to host us in his garden on August 16 for the Voices of the Street listening party. If you are interested in submitting art work, helping organize, or just coming out, check it. Stay tuned.
The door was open, just as we had agreed upon. I set my bag down against the wooden banister to unlock my recorder’s case, letting sweaty fingertips grease the untouched buttons. A woman’s voice paraded down the hallways, a falsetto, a down beat trumpet, a dramatic pause, and then a breathy scream seeped into the carpet to meet me at the top of the stairs.
My first glimpse of his home was a hallway from the Victorian home of somebody else’s grandmother. Walls covered in scattered paintings and two hundred year old wood work led me slowly towards the kitchen. The flowered wallpaper seemed suspiciously out of place, as if it was hiding the breath of bored ghosts between thin plastered epochs.
The back door opened on to a descending white porch, freshly painted, and unfamiliar to the rest of our block. I found him hunched over a cluster of wooden bowls filled with sorted beads and broken glass. Without looking up, Miguel serenaded us and began explaining his treasures, tossing them around and turning towards his unearthed garden. A square of compacted dirt, edged with brick, was his newest canvas. He fluttered through samples of mosaics, and scurried upstairs remembering “the eggs” and then back down the stairs to survey the dirt again. Mer asked if she could turn on the camera. He flitted his hand at her, non chanlantly and headed back up the steps towards the kitchen.
He poured thick juice into crystal goblets and told us to drink faster to fill with more champagne. We left our devices on his kitchen table and watched him toss thick cuts of french toast over a griddle. I clutched my recorder, feeling something open just above my bones, a fear to look away from him. Maybe it was because his back was turned and all that mattered were the vibrations flowing over his shoulders. Maybe it was sitting at a half moon table on the edge of a window. Maybe it was having a place to be on a Sunday that felt safe yet completely unpredictable.
“Oh yes. Sorry. Yes, I had been making costumes. Mostly found objects. Except, oh this is what i mean..there was one dress. Made of condoms. Now, let me tell you, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find unlubricated condoms in this town!”
And he waved flicked his rest towards the sick to point at a large blue bottle of DAWN dish soap
“Because it cuts the grease.”
Suddenly over 2000 condoms were strung over our heads while the wind allowed them to bubble and exhale gently alongside the high strung vines. We were peering through the broad side of a glass period, white in our minds and prisms of stretched latex color beaming from the other side. The brick fell below us suddenly and we were suspended there in a web of our own pleasures and deep curiousity
His lips tightened. I slowly shoveled chopped fruit into my mouth, glancing at the battery of my recorder, eyes burning as they refused to blink. I didn’t dare look at Mer because it felt like we all might collapse on the tile, laughing about our abuses until we were heaving with salt drenched cheeks.
Mariposa armilla! Mariposa armilla, as a young boy moving from flower to flower, laying lingering kisses on the petals as they bent delicately / weakly under his weight. He would be dismissed from school later that year when one flower was crushed beneath his touch. His father would be especially disappointed. When Miguel’s face darkened, we understood that disapointment was never really just that. It didn’t lay flat between two people like a beaten carpet or discarded plank of wood. It was a deep fear of regret and chosen ignorance to any possibility of coexistence.
And then I awakened to my own hand pressing against his shoulder blade. Underneath my two fingers a muted inky butterfly graced his tan shoulders. He peaked over at me. Mer was so close I could feel her heart swelling against her ribcage.
“It was, how do you say….?”
Reframing. Saving. Collecting. Curating the discarded that was caught in the gutter of another’s guilty mind. Recycling and moving from basement to attic, dirt patch to mosaic.