Monday, January 30, 2012

First Kiss, Trembling Lips

            I don’t recall having any contact with Ruben between that poetry read and the next that would come 2 weeks later. But I do remember that my cousin Juan was having his wedding around that time, a wedding that would take place in Matamoros, Mexico. My mother, who had had her passport recently renewed, was going to be out of town for a week to attend. To get a bit off topic, she had claimed that there wasn’t enough money for her to afford to bring me along with her, and even so, who would tend to the children while she was away? Surely not my stepfather. He worked almost 12 hours a day, leaving in the early afternoon and returning late into the night. By default, my older brother whom at the time, was living away from home, won that extra seat at the wedding. Of course, I didn’t find out my mother was paying to take him along until she was walking out the door with one of my bags, which was totally empty.
            Angry as I was, my mother promised to make it up to me by allowing me free run of the home while she was gone. While it was my duty to tend to the children (James and Elaine, ages 11 and 7 at the time from what I recall), the laundry, the food, dishes, and overall cleanliness of the house, I would also be able to have a friend over one of the nights I was babysitting that week. I would also have the privilege of shoving the youngest, Elaine, off on one of my mother’s friends with promises of a freebie babysitting session from me sometime in the near future. I would shove her off to spend the night so that I could attend the next poetry read.
            I had my friend Charlyze spend the night at my house the night before the poetry read so she could attend with me. Because my stepfather had to work, I would have to find my own way of transportation which was to be her mother. We began preparing for to go out hours before the poetry read was even planned to start. A read typically began around 7, so I would always leave at 6; I hopped in the shower to get ready at 2 that afternoon, just after my stepfather had left for work. Of course, as I was preparing to go out, I was also cleaning up the house, preparing my younger brother for any emergencies that might be needed, etc.
            Anyway, as it turned out, Charlyze wasn’t able to go. Instead, I called Kat to go with me. And after spending almost an hour preparing my younger brother to be alone in the house for a few hours, we left with her mother. What I wasn’t expecting when we got there was for her mom to actually stay at the coffee shop with us. Of course, Kat had always been a huge trouble maker, so her mother staying with us during a poetry read didn’t pose much of a threat to me. She didn’t even sit with us.
            Anyway, I’m just going to go ahead and jump to what happened. Ruben and I had been standing outside smoking when he invited me to take a walk so he could tell me a story about when he had been homeless. As it turns out, he was never really homeless. His girlfriend had broken up with him (he said he was about 19 or 20 when this happened) and he just sort of left his house and spent his time on the streets for about a month. That’s not homelessness, that’s a young boy who was angry and didn’t feel like returning home after his girlfriend breaking up with him. He told me about sleeping out on his friends’ lawns without them knowing, and sleeping on the bleachers at one of the schools nearby. Oh, the knowledge he’d gained from being on the streets for a month. He learned that sometimes homeless people keep dogs with them just in case they get stuck out in the middle of nowhere so they’ll have something to eat. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I was listening to this story and hanging on every word Ruben said. I’m not that stupid. But I did enjoy his story and find it rather funny.
            At this point in our walk, Ruben had led me down an alley that led to the back of the Perk. He had finished his story and I was telling him about my ex-boyfriend Jonathan and the events that had led up to him beating the living shit out of me and our eventual and inevitable break up. I recall telling him about Jonathan’s friend who wasn’t sure what to do when this happened so simply stood and watched. I almost laughed thinking about this. I almost laugh now thinking about it.
            So, when we were done walking, we had ended up at the back door of the Perk which we discovered was locked. So we stood outside and talk some more. This was when he remembered that he had forgotten to ask me about something. He inquired about my panties and what color they were (I had hinted that I was wearing a thong) and I told him to simply see for himself.
                        Anyway, to put it bluntly, I let him feel me up. Of course, when I say this, I also mean that I wasn’t expecting the gentle, yet firm bite to my ass that he gave me. This was the first time that anyone had ever done this to me so, not really knowing how to respond, I moaned softly (surprised) but otherwise hardly reacted. I realize that this is pretty awkward to read about, and thinking back on it now, it actually wasn’t as awkward while it was happening as it is telling about it now.
            Moving on though, after he was done fondling me in the alley behind the coffee shop (something that I haven’t thought about in a long time but actually find quite humorous in an awkward way), we stood and looked at each other for a moment. Then, without thinking really about the words coming out of my mouth, I told Ruben that I could never screw around with a guy until I knew how good of a kisser he was. After all, a man’s skill with kissing is a good measure of how his skill would be in the bedroom. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever said something that stupid, but I would look back on this moment for weeks and wish I hadn’t sounded so stupid. Nevertheless, he did kiss me. And I remember thinking the world had stopped turning, stars were falling from the sky, planets were exploding somewhere out in the distance.
            He didn’t grab my ass. His hands lingered on my lower back before slowly moving up my sides, brushing past my breasts, and holding tightly to my shoulders. I think I felt his hand touch my cheek. I look back at it like it could’ve been yesterday. In a few brief moments there behind a coffee shop, the entire universe ceased to exist; I felt superhuman, like this one kiss was going to change the world. And it did, it changed my world.
            I cannot properly describe this kiss to my readers unless they’ve felt it before themselves. It was that kiss that hypnotizes you, practically puts you in a trance, makes you forget that you’re really standing firmly on the ground. You’re floating away into space. You’re heart flutters, you’re stomach flutters; there’s thousands of butterflies pushing through your body. I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to stay there with my lips connected to Ruben’s forever. I was immediately addicted, and there would now be no way to disentangle Ruben from my grasp nor I from his.
            But alas, this kiss ended and we had to return to our positions as student and mentor in the midst of a cruel world that would never see what we had done as acceptable. Of course, would you?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

All Words, No Action

            As it would turn out, instead, I brought my friend Charlyze to that poetry read. And, like most of the friends I had brought to those reads in the year that I had been going to, it would only be once that I brought her with me. I was blushing the moment I walked into the coffee shop. Maybe it was just my young girly habits of being anxious whenever I was meeting with a guy I really liked who was finally showing some type of interest in me. Maybe it was because I had promised Ruben I would tell him what kind of panties I was wearing when I got there. Whatever the reason, my cheeks were a bright cherry red before I Ruben even stood up to hug me and say hello to my friend.
            As it would also turn out, I would not tell him anything about my panties or otherwise that night. We were somewhat friendly with each other but we didn’t start talking to each other much until after the other poets and such had left. Ruben and I stood outside with Charlyze and talked about sex and what have you. I recall him saying as the other poets were leaving that he was going to wait outside with me until my mother got there.
            “I don’t want to leave you here to get raped and killed.” He said. I told him that he wasn’t my babysitter, and that I wasn’t going to get “raped and killed” to which he replied, “Fine. Killed and raped, is that a better combination for you?”
            We stood around and laughed after everyone left. We talked about sex and all of that, but for the most part, we listened to Charlyze talk about her feelings on relationships and such. I don’t think she realized she was stealing what attention she knew was supposed to have been on me. When I say this, I’m not meaning I wanted to have everything centered on me. I simply mean that I had meant to be the one talking to Ruben and she was interrupting me every time I tried to get a word in edgewise.
            At one point, I remember Ruben looking at me and asking how I felt about all this rubbish on the subject. I simply told him what I had once heard my chemistry teacher say. “Well, if both parties are willing and I know what I’m getting out of it, I don’t mind.” I sort of laughed. “I mean, as long as the guy establishes what’s going on, it shouldn’t be a big deal. All I need is to know whether there’s something going on or it’s completely casual.”
            “Well, I have established exactly what’s going on.”
            When he said this, I sort of blushed and giggled a bit. And it was right then, leaning against his car and giggling that he told me I was cute. Well, his exact words were, “you know, you have the cutest dimples. Did you know that?”
            And then, right as I was looking up at him in the way that a girl looks at a guy with that face that says she wants to kiss him, my mother arrived. I gave Ruben a quick hug, taking a moment to press my cheek against his and feel at least a little bit of the warmth of his skin, and I left.
            Now, I realize that whatever readers I may have are probably a little disappointed at how short this post is, and how uneventful it was. To be perfectly honest, it almost makes me smile to think back on this particular moment. Dearest Lili (or Kidd as my profile identifies me), was it then that you were in love? Maybe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Initiating A Meeting

            Now, to where I left off earlier. I feel like I’ve been moving at snail’s pace here lately what with my dragging out everything, every little conversation I’ve ever had with Ruben as it would practically seem. But I promise it all leads to the real center of the story here.
            I had broken up with my boyfriend Jonathan and had considered dating my friend Alberto, who was a very close friend I’d known for about 3 years. Unfortunately, his inability to keep it in his pants stopped whatever relationship we potentially would’ve had in its tracks. There is more than one reason this is relevant to the story, all in due time though. I had just found out about Alberto’s not quite so infidelity when he called and told me while I was on my way out the door to babysit for my neighbor a few doors down.
            Now obviously I was a bit upset but this, not utterly disappointed or surprised, but a bit upset. So when I arrived to babysit, I spent the bulk of my time anonymously Facebook bashing Alberto; and by anonymous, I simply mean that I didn’t specify any names while I was posting. Of course, he would know who I was talking about if he happened to stumble across my page, which he did…several times.
            Now, I’m not condoning Facebook bashing your friends, or any type of internet bashing of course. And Alberto and I are miraculously still very good friends, but this is also beside the point. It was while I was on Facebook that I noticed Ruben was online and decided to open up a chat with him as I had done a few weeks before while once again, babysitting. Anyway, so I saw him online and decided to open up the chat bar and say hello to him. At this point though, I hadn’t been to the poetry reads in a long time – I hadn’t seen Ruben in months.
            Now, because this was quite a while ago, it was before Facebook started recording chat messages and saving them to your account like regular messages. Because of this, I can’t simply copy/paste the conversation onto a post for you to read. All I can do is describe for the most part what was discussed in this conversation.
            I recall telling him that I was going to bring my friend Alberto to the next poetry read and he promised to be an extra special asshole to him just for me. I told him about my history with Alberto and our first kiss together to which he reacted by not speaking to me for about half a year. Of course, I should probably explain that, looking back now, this isn’t all that surprising to me considering there is some speculation as to Alberto’s sexuality and on top of that, Alberto is the type of person who will avoid just about anybody for just about any reason at all. But this is not necessarily all that important; it is simply what began our conversation.
Ruben: You must’ve kissed him wrong.
Me: Well excuse me, but I feel that I am a rather good kisser.
Ruben: Well, I wouldn’t know.
Me: And you never will.
Ruben:  :(
            Now, as I said before, I don’t actually have these messages on my Facebook anymore but I do remember the conversation quite vividly. I recall being on the phone with my friend Kat (like most characters in this story, not her real name, but it was her real nickname) while having this conversation with Ruben. I remember seeing this above particular message and wondering if this was Ruben’s way of trying to make a pass at me. In fact, during this conversation, I would often tell Kat exactly what was being said and ask her advice on how I should respond to his messages. Because she was much more experienced when it came to men than I was, I had turned to her often in my high school years and continue to speak to her now about my personal affairs. She’s still a dear friend. Moving on, I used her as a reference during this particular conversation with Ruben. When I told her about this particular message (as short as it was, as a teen girl, I often read pretty strongly into small details), she told me to not respond by referencing any of the above conversation. I decided to keep it simple.
Me: Don’t be sad, smile. :)
Ruben: Well, tell me something to make me happy.
Me: Well, you’re going to see me at the next poetry read.
Ruben: Ok. I’m happy now.  (or something to that degree)
            Moving on with the conversation, we began talking about our interests and such. Things having to do with how we were feeling or what we felt like doing. I believe he made a reference to being bored, as did I and we began to discuss what we’d much rather be doing than what we were currently doing. I wrote something to the degree of:
            Me: Right now, I feel like drinking heavily and waking up in a house that isn’t mine.
Ruben: hahaha! (or something or other)
Me: How bout you? What do you feel like doing?
Ruben: I feel like drinking heavily and waking up in a house that isn’t mine.
            When he said this, I giggled a bit to myself because he did, in all honesty, basically rewrite what I had said to be humorous. Just pointing that out so my readers don’t think this was simply a typo.
Me: Lol. How original. But how do you really feel?
Ruben: Honestly, I kind of feel like messing around.
            Now, on the phone with Kat, I gasped when I saw this. Now I was almost sure he was making a pass at me, but I still wasn’t positive about how to respond to such a thing. So, I turned to Kat for advice. How does a 16 year old girl respond to such a message? Was this his way of saying he wanted to mess around with me? Was he simply joking? Was he drinking when he said this? Every one of these details and more was very important to me in reference to how I would respond to what had been said. So, I almost took Kat’s advice (she told me to ask what he would want to do specifically) and said:
Me: With?
Ruben: Just.
            Now here was where the conversation took a turn. He responded rather vaguely at first but we slowly yet surely started to really get into sexual details. You know, we talked about the stuff he liked, and he asked me what I liked. Now, I must point out that this wasn’t simply a one-sided conversation. I was excited that Ruben was talking to me about sex. Granted, even though I was attracted to him, this wasn’t necessarily my idea of how things would start between us but hey, I was young and longing for his attention so, rather than taking what many people would think was the “respect I deserved”, I simply took what I could get. Unfortunately, it was simply this.
            Of course, during conversations such as this one, I tend to get rather shy, and my responses were pretty short for the most part and I beat around the bush a lot. He asked me what I liked, and my answers were, for the most part, pretty half-ass. I didn’t want to reveal too much of myself to him for the same reasons anyone wouldn’t put themselves out there when speaking about sex with someone for the first time. I didn’t want to seem too awkward or odd. On top of that, being only 16, I wasn’t all that experience in the subject of sex. Of course, I didn’t want to reveal that either. So I behaved like I was having a casual conversation with Ruben, as if the topic of sex came up often in my life, and as if I wasn’t an absolute prude or a virgin, or as if I held an Advil between my legs all the time. I wanted to remain, I suppose, somewhat of a mystery until I was sure about what would be proper to speak of with Ruben.
            I played it safe. He talked about some of his fetishes. Ruben had a thing for panties; he asked what kind and what color I was wearing. I remember telling him, but I don’t necessarily recall what exactly it was, not that I would tell my readers anything about my panties. This blog isn’t that open. Continuing, we talked about sexual things he like, and sexual curiosities that I had. At one point, we both stopped playing it too terribly safe; but I still recall that he kept telling me that he understood my shyness and that I didn’t need to be so timid with him. That, of course, didn’t stop me from being timid, but rather convinced me to give him more detail, more of what I thought he might like to hear. I can’t remember what all was said in our conversation, but I recall that we agreed to some type of sexual activity. I casually agreed to this, he simply mentioned as if it were all just part of a humorous conversation we were having.
             When we ended our chat, I was excited to see him again, excited to have his attention on me finally. It was mid-June at this point and a hadn’t seen him in months. To specify, yes, the conversation was very sexual, most of it seemed like the two of us were joking and as casual as I tried to be while talking about my panties and my curiosities about bondage, in my mind I was freaking out, almost throwing a party at the thought that Ruben liked me enough to have this type of conversation with me.
            Despite all that had happened that month, that week, that day, I fell asleep almost thrilled and extremely excited to see Ruben again. Only, I wouldn’t bring Alberto to this poetry read…

Have I Really Got It?

            I saw Ruben again sometime during that month, February from what I remember. I was with my friend Sapphire who had never been to the poetry reads with me. I remember having a project in my Computer Science class, researching your dream job. Everyone picked doctor or lawyer, or nurse, engineer and typical stuff like that, no elementary school dreams of being a musician or anything like that, normal everyday high school dreams. Mine was writer. I had researched it and found that most writers didn’t make much and usually had to continue to keep a day job. My teacher had told us that a good resource for any info on a job was to interview someone who actually had that job. Ruben was my go-to guy.
            At the next poetry read I went to, I sat down with him and a friend of his whose name was Daniel. I discussed with him his job as a writer, particularly his regular job of being a comic book writer. I knew he didn’t make any money doing the poetry reads he did, because aside from the fact that he felt the need to point it out, everyone knows that no one makes money running free poetry reads open to the public. From what I was told that day, as a freelancer (a writer who published their own work and wasn’t sponsored by anyone) he made about a hundred dollars a page writing monthly comic books that were between 9 and 12 pages long I believe.
            I asked him several questions; did he enjoy working on his comic books? Was he happy to have obtained such a career as a writer? Of course, he still had a day job as most writers commonly do, even successful writers. I’m sure it’s not just because writers don’t make much, after all, I think I’d find myself pretty damn bored if all I ever did all day was sit at my desk and write. But I digress.
            We ended up discussing many topics including how much we hate “Twilight” (sorry Stephanie Meyer but I hate your work with a dying passion). We talked about how it was an extremely gay (no homophobe) remake of the Anne Rice vampire stories, with exception to the fact that Anne Rice captured the voice of a vampire rather well while Stephanie Meyer sucked ass. We also discussed some of my creative ideas, one of which was a piece about the original creation story, the one that included Lilith and the possibility of reincarnation. It was a work that toyed with the idea of many beliefs being interconnected, a work that I loved yet feared I’d never have the words to make real.
            My English teacher had always been bothered by my lack of self-confidence, always telling me that I totally sold myself short. I loved my own ideas, but my portrayal of them always seemed to suck. I voiced this concern to Ruben who turned in his seat so that his body was facing mine and he told me something I would value for a long time.
            “You’re a young, Hispanic girl growing up next to the border. The things you’ve seen, and the perspective you’ve seen them from are your most valuable asset to work with. You just need to know how to sell yourself, as an artist that is. Being the type of person you are gives you a huge boost when you’re writing. Just be willing to work hard at it, and early because the longer you wait, the harder it is to do anything with any of your work.”
            He also, in this conversation mentioned something about tossing a little bit of Spanish into my writing. I guess it gave it a somewhat exotic feel or something of the sort. It helped one create a signature writing style, and having a little Spanish in some of what he wrote, as well as having a few Spanish poems were things that Ruben and some of the other poets he knew did. It definitely acknowledged a style for them. And it was part of what made Ruben unique the first time I met him. I was appalled to hear from him that something could be so simple.
            I had the world at my fingertips because my youth gave me an advantage over many people who wouldn’t realize they wanted to write until at least college when they started to find themselves. I was new and fresh. Sure, I smoked and held a cigarette like I was a little kid (Ruben said that it gave away my age), but Ruben said that I had it in me to do something great, to be something great.
            Now one can speculate as to whether I’m actually as good as Ruben at the time had told me I was. I continued to be an embarrassing poet, writing what one could only assume was the work of a young teenage girl. Of course, this should be no surprise considering my age now. I’m still relatively young. Nevertheless, Ruben telling me that I had talent meant a lot to me.
            In all honesty, I had waited a long time to hear anybody tell me that, but Ruben Ramirez saying it to me was what really made it count. I went home that night with little butterflies flapping around in my stomach and flopped down on my bed and wrote my little heart out.
                        By this time, I had known Ruben long enough that we would hug upon greeting and saying goodbye to each other. Of course, this means little because as I’m sure I said earlier, this was somewhat of a norm for most people both adolescent and adult-ish. Ruben was one of those adult-ish people, though I can honestly say that I saw him hug few people, and he never once hugged a friend that I had brought with me to the poetry reads. Granted, such a fact is neither here nor there. When all of this happened, I was well into my sophomore year, and I wouldn’t see Ruben again until that June.
            Of course, four months is a pretty big gap to have in a story like this one. I continued with my year, I obsessed over my notebooks, I took part in a play in theatre, and I continued to behave as any regular teen did. It was that April that I met my boyfriend Jonathan, early that June when I broke up with him… this will be significant in a later post though.
            I can’t necessarily call it conceit that made me post this, but the fact that he would say such a thing to a fifteen year old. I suppose this is my way of showing how one thing can lead to another.
                        Until next time...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

While Grounded

            Okay, so as I said before, now we’re actually going to discuss some of the things that Ruben and I talked about. I posted about being grounded just after New Year’s for being out too late on New Year’s Eve. Well, when I got grounded, I wasn’t allowed to attend any poetry reads for a while. These are some emails sent between me and Ruben during that time. Of course, they’re all edited so no personal information is revealed but for the most part, these are copies of them I took directly off my Facebook.
Me:                  January 6, 2010                                                                                                                                   dude, i havent been able to go 2 the poetry reads 4 a while. my mom always has shit to do at the last minute. i'll try to go tuesday if my mom quits bein mad at me 4 bein late on saturday. i was sposed 2 be home at 9.....but i came around 1:30 so im kinda grounded. but not 4 long. . . . . .BTW: who spanks 15 yr olds????

Ruben:             January 6, 2010                                                                                               hahaha, who spanks 15 year olds? dirty old men?
We'll be there this coming tuesday at 7 sharp, try to make it, we'd love to see you...and wear something sexy! ;) hahahahaha!

Me:                  January 7, 2010                                                                                                           i kno, rite? the only people that should ever get spanked are 5 yr olds and hookers.....i'm neither.
i'll try to come, shouldnt be hard. my mom isnt too hard to convince.........and wat are you saying? what? i dont dress sexy?! lol

Ruben:             January 7, 2010                                                                                                           heh,well bring your stuff to read and I'll see you there! and remember I am a dirty old man, so wear some fishnets and a skirt and some big black boots, you know the drill! j/k! ;)

            I realize that I should probably explain a little bit of this. When I showed up at my house at 1:30 in the morning on New Year’s, my stepfather, in a fit of rage, attempted to, well, spank me. After the initial “punishment” (which consisted of me sitting in a chair with my knees touching the wall for upwards of 5 hours, and then grounding), I decided to find at least some humor in the whole situation. Sometimes I even look back and wonder what exactly goes through a person’s head when they try to spank a teenager, but I digress.
            So, what Ruben said, he was obviously joking. (Like I said, the only part of this that was edited was the names and spacing. I didn’t even use the spelling and grammar check.) I was, as written above, 15 when we had this short conversation. He was, I would assume 34. Actually, when I saw what he had written, I wanted to say something witty that wasn’t too implicative toward him. After all, I didn’t want him to think I was interested, but I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t interested either which is why I asked if he didn’t think I dressed sexy. I guess to put it in words that make sense, I wanted to be a little flirty without completely giving myself away.
            Listen, this isn’t my way of trying to make him look like a huge pervert just because he was joking about me dressing up to see him. I always used to spend forever getting ready anyway. But what I’m trying to do here is show you as specifically as I possibly can what it was like. I could never recreate a poetry read, never put in words the way he spoke and how he was able to catch my attention with his words, his voice. All I can truly give to my readers is the truth of how impossibly perfect he was. I can’t explain how it was that I came to love Ruben but it happened and I can’t change any of that. I can only admit that some of the greatest fun, some of the moments I spent in that city wishing that time would stand still for a while, were moments that I spent with him, with his friends, with the poets.
            Just hearing his name made me blush a little bit. The teachers at school loved him for his contribution to the arts and for being so willing to visit the school and read poetry to the students and actually have the ability to catch their attention. No one can do that. Seriously, you need a miracle worker to really get a teenager to pay attention to what you’re saying. Ruben had done that. It attracted me more than any other kid; I was the youngest person attending the poetry reads. My mom was happy to be rid of me, to know that I was out doing something productive and not going out and getting in trouble doing stupid shit. I was inspired. On a good night, I couldn’t pull myself away from my notebooks; I now had more than I had ever had. (And this is only about a year after my stepdad had thrown out all my work and I mean every scrap of paper I had ever written on. He was in the habit of doing this when I was in trouble because he knew how much I valued it. But I digress. This is to make a point. I was writing all the time, even more now that I had met Ruben.)
            Ruben was one of those people who really and truly affected my teenage life at that point. Even more so later on in this story. I thought I took my time and dragged my ass with introducing him and leading up to what this story is really about. This story isn’t even half over at this point. Going back to it one more time, just one more time is something that I hope won’t be too bad. Nothing ever is after the first few times around….

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ruben's Notebook

Seeing Ruben for the first time outside of a controlled area was one of those moments when I felt some true sense of thrill which would only happen a few times in my life. He left me with a fond memory and a borrowed notebook that I would have to give back at the next poetry read. I read it that night, read it the next morning, read it in class, read it many, many times throughout the first week I had it. Poetry reads were biweekly. After the first week, I handed the notebook over to my English teacher, Fritz. He read it at his desk over the course of a few days.
My favorite was one about date rape. I won’t leave you with just that. It was a poem that touched whoever read it, not just because of its topic, but because of the strategy he used in writing about it. He would later tell me that he had written the poem simply because someone had told him that the fact that he was a man made it impossible for him to possibly be able to write about such a subject. He, as a male, was supposedly separate from it. There was no way he could possibly grasp the concept of such. He did. He tore the concept out of the ground and thrust it into his reader’s heart, forcing them to face the emotional damage of it. It was a strong poem, written (as the others were) in all capital letters on faded, almost yellowed paper. And for some reason, I think the simple fact that the pages were discolored and old, and a little coffee-stained made the words within that much stronger…
But back to the real story…
I returned the notebook two weeks later at the next poetry read. I told Ruben how much I loved his work, I told him how much Fritz also loved his work. He was a phenomenal poet; my English teacher believed that most of the poets that went to the Central Perk were just trying to be like Ginsberg, but Ruben, Ruben was a great writer because he had his own poetic strengths. Of course, Fritz hadn’t read the work of some of Ruben’s friends, a few of the other poets that read there. In fact, one of my favorite poems that I had heard at the Perk was a crazy ex-girlfriend poem written by a woman named Jess. But that’s an entirely different topic altogether. I complimented Ruben’s work wholeheartedly. He was my poetic hero. Never had I read something that I loved so much.
I told Ruben this, completely gushing with excitement. I couldn’t get over the fact that this was Ruben Ramirez I beginning to get close to, even almost able to call a friend. I suppose by now, one could say that I would’ve been willing to do anything for his approval. Of course, he had me convinced that I was a good poet in my own ways, that I had my own poetic personality. But I still believe that I was pretty shitty at this point so I won’t elaborate on much of it.
During this poetry read when I returned his notebook, he invited me to return to the next one. I look back now and wonder if this had been his plan all along: to promise me his notebook on the condition that I go to a poetry read, and have me return it at another. Of course, I’ve looked back and wondered many things about him, many small details that I may not have been able to catch immediately, many details that I may have read too much into. But in my defense, I was only 15 when I began going to these poetry reads. I was proud to be able to participate in such a thing. There was nothing I would have wanted more than to simply be able to continue visiting my own little paradise.
I remember Ruben once asking me if I had Facebook. I said no, I had MySpace. “MySpace? Who uses MySpace anymore…” and went on to poke fun at my twelve year old-ness. When he did this I would always blush. I knew I was immature at times, and I was always a little goofy and awkward but I prided myself in these things because I was told once or twice that it was unique and just the slightest bit cute. I wanted someone to notice that. Anyway, I got a Facebook and added every poet I had met at the Perk, and just about everyone I ever knew.
I can’t really say much about seeing him outside of school a second time except that it was only the beginning of me becoming a regular poet there. I began attending the reads pretty regularly until I got grounded after New Year’s for getting home at 1:30 am after being told to be back by 9. Only four and a half hours late wasn’t as bad as my parents made it out to be.
Ok, so something I seriously need to point out to everyone reading my blog before I go any further. I loved the poetry reads and Ruben was my absolute freaking hero. I really liked him at this point, but it’s not like I was obsessed and the poetry reads were the only thing going on in my life. There was one point after January that I stopped going for about a month, then I went a couple times, and then quit going again. I loved being around Ruben and the other poets, but my life didn’t circle around them or anything. At first, I wouldn’t miss any reads at all, and towards the end it was the same way. But around the middle, I just started to have other things going on in my life that were just as important and took up a lot of my attention.
Thinking back now, if I had valued it as much the whole time as I did toward the end, I sometimes wonder if maybe this whole thing would’ve happened sooner. Maybe it would’ve moved a lot faster, maybe I wouldn’t be the person I am right now, or live where I do. But all these what ifs don’t change what happened then or what’s happening now. I think back on Ruben sometimes fondly. But this was all back when I was absolutely clueless. In my next blog, I’ll take you a little deeper into it, start a few specifics, because around now is when things really started to happen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meeting Outside of School For the First Time

            So I showed up with my friend Abby at a place I will call Central Perk both because the actual name corresponds at least a little bit to that name and because I love the TV show “Friends”. It was the tiniest coffee place I had ever seen. Of course it was in the downtown part of the city, so a lot of the shops and such were fairly small. Nevertheless, I had expected something somewhat different. It was still a nice place though. There was a coffee cup logo on the front window. It was a white drawing with a brown background, steam lifting up out of the cup. There was a dj booth toward the back, a couple of sofas with short coffee tables. Around the rest of the coffee shop were small, circular tables, most of them short, and tall ones all around the edges near the walls and windows.
            I was at least half an hour early for the poetry read. I was dressed in blue jeans and a huge, black tall tee I had received as a birthday gift from a friend named Manny (real name, but only because we weren’t close and haven’t seen each other in almost 3 years if I’m correct). It was littered with red and white outlined drawings of sneakers. The shirt went down almost to my knees, but I thought it looked cute on me, especially when I used a hairband to tie it just below the waist. I wore this with a black, studded hair clip. If one could look exactly like a 15 year old girl, it was how I looked that day. I know, I’ve looked through the pictures and videos. I was the youngest person there. Don’t get me wrong, I was entirely passionate about poetry, there was nothing I loved more than those poetry reads, and I more than likely still would have attended whether Ruben had gone or not, but he was the first reason I began going.
            Ruben was the first person I saw when I walked in the door. He was seated at a table near the back, a laptop open on the table with a bumper sticker (yes, a friggin bumper sticker on the back) advertising the poem “Howl” by Ginsberg. Of course, this was long before I knew anything about Ginsberg. That book wouldn’t be handed to me until sometime that winter before Christmas break took hold.
            So, he hugged me. I was throwing a small party in my head for myself when this happened. Of course, I knew that everyone at the time hugged each other as a sort of greeting. We did it everyday at school. When you saw a friend anywhere, even if you had seen them earlier that day, you hugged them most of the time. I could probably assume that this was going on with the teens as well as some of the adults unless of course, they were just humoring me because I hardly ever saw Ruben hug anyone else that wasn’t a woman, and even some women he wouldn’t hug..  But back to the main topic. I was absolutely beaming with excitement.
            I didn’t ask for the notebook right off the bat but I did flip through a few pages of it, once again admiring the crude work he had done on the front and back covers. He wrote in all capital letters, with runny black ink gel pens. His notebook was either old, or he had made it to look so. The pages had become an off-white color, some of the back pages even looked a little coffee stained, and every single page in that notebook had been used. He only wrote on one side of the page too. I assumed it was because of the runny black ink gel pens he used. You see, if you write something on the front side of one page then on the back side of the one in front of it, the ink on both pages will rub off on each other if you don’t use the correct type of writing utensil. This happens if you use the wrong type of pen, and if you use any type of pencil. These are ridiculous little facts that poets know…
            He read a poem about the Japanese art of bondage. Abby and I were whistling and giggling and making crude comments by the time he was done with his poem. Ruben walked past our table shaking his head and laughing, calling us “cochinas”. We only laughed all the harder. You see, as much as I wanted his attention, I began my attempt to gain it in the same way a 1st grade girl would get attention from a boy, by always being around him, and often poking fun at little things I found humorous about him. He would, in turn, do the same to me.
            He laughed at me for mot having Facebook, and instead having only MySpace. “Who has MySpace anymore?” he said as he compared me to a twelve year old for not only my lack of Facebook, but also because my mother was coming to pick me 9. One of his comments as I began to walk off to go do something of importance at the time (as I recall, it was to go buy gum at a nearby store) was, “Wait, give me a minute to make fun of you some more… What do you have to be home in time to watch Hannah Montana?”
            As it turns out, I hate Hannah Montana; I have since the moment the TV show came out. I’m more into TV shows like “Shameless” or “House” but once again, that’s not the story I’m telling. Ruben poked fun at my friend and me for having an early curfew, and a mother to pick us up. I laughed with him, and blushed. I may have had my mother coming to pick me up, but I was also the youngest person at that particular poetry read, and the only person at my high school (aside from the occasional friends I would bring) who was ever going to attend these reads.
            The fact that I was the youngest person there was only a good thing because, looking back now, my poetry sucked. Honestly, I was absolutely horrid at performing my poems. I read a poem about a guy name Jonathon who had given me my first kiss. I also wrote about the fact that I was 14 when this happened, he was 9 years older than me, and that he utterly broke my heart… Very emo heart break. I’ve watched the video, and it’s actually pretty terrible. On top of that, my glasses had gotten lost in a rainstorm a few days before this particular read and I was holding the paper two inches from my face. Like I said, horrid…
            I also recall meeting a poet there by the name of Darren (not his real name). Darren was at least in his 40’s whom I met while talking to Ruben. I introduced myself and politely told him that his work was pretty badass. When I said this, he pulled a book out of his pocket (a book, by the way, that you will find on Amazon for $10, but sorry, no title) and handed it to me. I still have it somewhere at my mother’s house. I read it and would later love a few of the poems and hate others, such as one that consisted of more lines than words. It was less than one sentence long and consisted of a complaint about coffee. Not exactly the greatest of his or anyone’s work. Nevertheless, I still rather liked the fact that a published author was just handing me his work and I’ve had that book for over 2 years now despite the fact that I now know that thousands of people publish work every year and still make almost nothing.
            I realize that I’m rambling without meaning to, but for some reason I feel that I should introduce you to all of the people I met there. To be perfectly honest, most of them were perfectly wonderful people and despite the facts that this story is addressing, I feel that my relationship with these people, Ruben’s friends was just as important to my experience in the city as my relationship with Ruben himself. These are the people who knew him better than I ever would. This is because you don’t know someone by listening to everything they tell you about themselves and being able to remember all of what they told you. You don’t know them because you’ve spent time with them for a few hours in a day. Even as I write this story I still don’t know Ruben, and I probably never will know him. I only know a few parts of him that –yes- are crucial to this story and help to make up who he is, but even those things I know are just pieces of a much larger puzzle, a puzzle that possibly not even he will be able to completely put together. What makes this story important is finding what is below the surface of a man. His friends would have known much more about that than I.
            Of course, I’m not going to make any references to any of his friends on this blog. Even though they all knew Ruben as person far better than I did, none of them had even the slightest idea of what was going on as far as I know.
            Continuing, the poetry read ended long after I had left with Ruben’s notebook after giving him my phone number, email, and possibly even my address. If all else failed, he said, he knew where my school was…
            All in all, I realize most of this post was me rambling about this or that, but one must realize that I was just 15 when this poetry read happened. I was excited. Going back to that place now, I still think of all that I could have held to that day. I was young and inexperienced. But I was also meeting my hero outside of school, out in the world where there were no boundaries as to what we could say to each other. It was the beginning of something big, bigger than I ever thought it would be. I had never met people who were so smart, so educated, and so much more talented than I. I can’t be blamed for cherishing that so much.          

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sophmore Slumper's Comeback of the Year

I was a sophomore. I had an English teacher who I would soon see as somewhat of a hero, a model of the teacher I would someday be to my students. I will call him Fritz. I was one of at least three girls in wrestling; I wasn’t great, but I was learning.
            When I received word from the librarians that Ruben Ramirez would be visiting for the Hispanic poetry read in the library, I spoke to each teacher I had individually, pleading my case with them. Fritz, fortunately, saw something in my cause, and agreed to, rather than simply allow me to be absent for the poetry read, take the entire class on the condition that I would be reading a poem. I wasn’t so lucky with the rest of my teachers, although I did get a chance to see Ruben between my 7th and 8th periods, 8th being wrestling, my last class of the day. He pointed at me, and I approached, greeting him with a hug. We were familiar, a new closeness I had only hoped to have.
            I did not get out of wrestling, but I did skip changing to haul ass to the library, still damp with my own sweat, and wanting only to have a short discussion with this poet I so loved. I began our conversation by picking up his notebook. “Do remember that you told me I could have this?” I grinned.
            He pulled it out of my hand, “I said no such thing.”
            “Ah, but you did. You said that if you died, it was mine.”
            “Yeah. If I die.”
            “I’m holding you to that Mr. Ruben Ramirez.” I said with just the slightest sarcasm in my voice.
            We both smiled at each other. Now, I could never figure out why, but this short moment, standing there, smiling at Ruben has never left my memory. No detail of him ever has. As I see it, he was a very significant part of my growing teenage years, and nothing can ever change what he did for me, or to me. Despite anything he might believe of himself, we both impacted each other… but I suppose this is just wishful thinking.
            He handed me a small flyer with a skull on it, an invitation to an open mic at what I assumed was, as my Uncle Raymond would call it, a poetry bar. Not only that, but he tempted me with the promise that he would loan me his notebook to read for my leisure, if I attended this poetry open mic. I accepted this offer, attempting to mask my excitement as well as the fact that I would have gone whether he offered his notebook or not. I looked at him, with this look that he would later describe as my “Lolita smile”. I smiled with my eyes as well as my mouth, a smile that begged for his touch, his affection.
            But obviously, there was no affection that came with the look I gave him. He hugged me, offered me a piece of the cake the librarians gave him, and before I could answer, he had pushed it into my hands and disappeared.
            Now, thinking back on this memory, I realize that there’s so much I did, so much I said that I would later sit in my room and think was stupid. I believed that there was no way I was hiding my age, he could see right through my little charade. I tried to play adulthood like a toddler playing house or mother with dolls and blankets made up into tents. But he knew…
            I spent weeks obsessing over my horrid poetry, contemplating my outfit, wondering just what the hell I was going to do when I faced Ruben again. I wouldn’t go alone for fear of not knowing anyone; I would bring my friend Abby. I contemplated every miniscule detail of how I would behave when I was to see Ruben. Looking back now, I suppose it was all just the beginning of how I would continue to behave around him, the opening act to a long and drawn out play of love and tragedy… Curtain up….

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Summer Changes Without

After I met Ruben that first time, I talked about how awesome the library poetry read was and how I was so lucky to have gotten out of almost all of my classes to go to it. I also told everyone how cool Ruben was and showed them where he had signed my notebook, and said that he was the best poet that had come to visit our library. I was simply gushing about him. But, because I was barely 15, young and in a hurry, I soon forgot all about him and focused on what was going on in my own life. Nevertheless, I did name him my new hero. Meeting him that day changed me more than I would’ve admitted at the time. I immediately gave up on readability of my poetry and let go of what inhibitions held me back. I stopped writing the four-line stanza poetry with the abab rhyme scheme and the obvious line structure, giving it up as bullshit. I stopped writing like I was a goddamn twelve year old with serious depression problems. I let go and began writing more for myself than the rest of the world, and I gave up my opinions of what I thought poetry was supposed to be like. After meeting Ruben, I truly understood what it meant for poetry to not always rhyme. It had a different definition to me.

            In fact, here’s a poem from when I was 15, before I met Ruben. Please, bear with me, I know it probably sucks. Trust me, I know:

                                                You Don’t Even Know

                          I stand here in the light of a lamp
                        Searching for you on the paper
                        You were talking to your girlfriend
                        You promised to call back later

                        But should it even matter?
                        Because you don’t love me the same
                        I’m fifteen and you’re nineteen
                        You just help ease the pain

                        You don’t know who you are in my eyes
                        Which, I’ve noticed yours are blue
                        You don’t understand how much you mean
                        You don’t see yourself as I see you

                        When we are talking on the phone
                        I let my true feelings show
                        But I feel invisible to you
                        Cause you don’t even know

            Now, take a good look at it. Absorb it. Give yourself a minute if you must. Don’t feel bad if you’re telling yourself how ridiculous it sounds right now that you’re reading it because, trust me, I know, I’ve not only read it, but I’ve looked at it and wondered how the hell I actually ever thought I was good at writing. It’s not my worst though; it’s just a piece of what I could call my worst. And this isn’t me bashing my 15 year old self, this is me trying to get the reader to understand the difference between me then and me now. I had very specific beliefs of what poetry was supposed to be like, and I never wandered outside of that little shell I called my poetry. All of it had this exact line scheme, rhyme scheme, probably sounded quite the same too. But I’m not going to post a copy of one of my more recent poem from after I knew Ruben until much later into this blog. I just wanted to give you a good idea of what kind of girl you’re reading about. This is me at this particular point in my life. I’m acknowledging that fact and I’m staring it in the face and I’m saying “Wow, we have a hell of a long way to go.”

            By the way, in case anybody is wondering, that poem isn’t about Ruben. I wrote it quite a bit before I met him, probably even just a week before I meant him to be perfectly honest with you. I wrote it about one of my close friends who I thought I was in love with at one point. I even called him drunk once telling him this to which he replied “I’m 19, I have a girlfriend, and I live on the other side of the country (I used to live in a small, northern town before I moved down south. I’m not going to tell you where it was though; just that he addressed this when I would not). It would obviously never work between us.” He said some other things too like that he never saw me as anything more than a little sister, and other things that I’ve forgotten because it was so long ago and I wasn’t exactly in the right mind when we had this conversation but I digress. This blog isn’t about him. Moving on…

            So, that poem is an example of how I used to write. And judging by the way I wrote it, you can obviously tell a lot about what type of person I was at that time. But, like I said, though meeting Ruben that first time was amazing and I still remember it like it was yesterday, it soon escaped my memory, and my focus moved to other things that would impact me that summer.

            Yes, the summer came. After all, it was already April when I met Ruben. I vacationed at my cousin’s house, begged to be allowed to live with them, and was dragged home kicking and screaming. Ha-ha. Obviously not end of story. There’s much more to this than that. After all, this was a significant summer in my life. I lost my virginity that summer. I also fell in love with a very attractive boy living in Mexico, a friend of my cousin’s. To be perfectly honest, I still have a few old pictures of him and myself together somewhere in a box at my mother’s house. I don’t plan on throwing them out; I find that there are some memories you should keep with you. He would be my main focus upon my return home, and again toward the end of July this year upon my knowledge of his death, one of the many inconveniences of living south of the border.

            Once again, I digress. Though this blog is about the things that happened between me and this poet, I want to give my readers a good idea of who I am, who I was during the time that all of these things happened in my life. It wouldn’t be fair of me to only tell you the side of my story that doesn’t include things being a little fucked up on my side alone. I was pretty dysfunctional by myself. I won’t deny that. There are things about both myself and Ruben that I feel will be necessary in telling this story fairly.

            So I returned in August for school when my mother sent for me, and it would be in September when I would see Ruben again. I had changed that summer as I believe one changes every summer. Many instances of one’s life change them as a person if even only the slightest, unrecognizable bit. I would be much different when I saw Ruben again…