Floating Island

I gently wake up from a dream, cold. My eyes have a hard time recognizing where I am. I look around and I find myself mixing my past and present, looking for a door or a dresser that used to exist in another apartment. Not here. I guess it's been a long journey. I breathe deeply and hold on to the warm covers.

I paint a mental picture of where everything is, until I can tell North from South, East from West. I know exactly the way back home, across the lake, through miles of land and ocean.

In a few hours, I'll be out in the cold, on my way to work.

I fight to reconnect with those beautiful rotating vignettes that take over my thoughts, blurry memories taking me away from it all. And, suddenly. It's happening again. I snap out of reality and I’m not here anymore; nor in any of the stops in my journey. I’m back home.

Somehow I’m sitting comfortably in grandma’s backyard. A typical May morning that is bright and perfect to enjoy with a warm cup of coffee. I look around and I'm here. The chilly ocean breeze gently teases the natural wall of red poppies. It's soothing and easy.

I notice that it's about to rain, as usual. The row of mango trees along the road to the beach will be overflowing with the juicy fruit that falls as it downpours. Nothing more delicious that enjoying its pulpy flesh until its sugary juice runs down your elbows. In a blink of an eye, the impulse takes me down that path. I wanted to be there so bad.

I remember the market next to the shore. Gorgeous seasonal fruit. Everything's so bright and full of life. The green bananas perfect for pickling. The pumpkin empanadas making my mouth water. I start feeling great joy in listening people chatting to their heart’s content, from fruit stand to fruit stand. Hugs and greetings everywhere. “Good morning”, “the family's good?”, “so great to see you”. It’s easy to get lost in their stories. 

Then, suddenly, it’s time for lunch. I find myself craving flattened mallorcas smothered in butter. A must item at any panaderĂ­a and the best treat with a cold glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a second cup of coffee. On the background, the AM radio lets you know things keep running their course. 

Time slows down. It’s inevitable. You stop to listen carefully to the same panaderĂ­a conversations, the same conflicts from 40 years ago that still exist. People somehow find a way to brush it off. To smile. Probably because the coffee always tastes exceptionally good here. The owner is a hell of an artist.

The apocalyptic predictions never stop. Neither does life. 

Today at grandma’s house, several dozen pasteles are being cooked for the next party, whether it's a birthday or a gathering around town. Grandma Olga is grating green bananas, cassava, pumpkin and plantain. She makes her sauce with achiote. For whatever comes.

At home, mom continues to paint. She decided to become an artist later in life and I love to see her happy in her improvised studio. 

 I find myself thinking that today is a great day to explore. To hang with friends. 

To celebrate anything. 

But sometimes today is an existence that lives parallel to another world. My other world. An existence that at least for now lives enclosed in deep sleep. It comforts me. The music, art, colors, flavors. It all becomes good energy. I rekindle every moment as it somehow also becomes part of my present.

And just like that, I start opening my eyes again, conscious of where I am. This time, completely awake. I can see clearly how the day will unfold. I can see the road to follow. I know exactly who I am. The street outside is cold. But that’s OK.

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