Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trabajando por un Sueño

Luis, our landlord, stopped by this morning to pick up some “furniture” that we weren’t using. I was deep in the ghostly weirdness of Pedro Páramo, so his rapid-fire knock at our metal door caught me off guard. (Chris was gone – in San Juan for the day.) I had to try both keys – still don’t have them figured out just yet – but I eventually got the door open, and he bounded inside.

Yes, “bounded” is probably the best way to describe his movement into our apartment. It’s difficult to describe Luis. In appearance he reminds me of a long-lost Mario brother, with an almost-but-not-quite-handlebar moustache – definitely more Italian than Zapatan.

And he loves hats. Loves them. Every time we see him – and we see him a lot, like when he suddenly appeared at our coffee shop table yesterday and whisked us off to an English conversation class at the University of Guadalajara (another story) – he’s wearing a different hat, never a baseball cap but always one with the brim all the way around, not wide like a sombrero but smaller, like something you might wear on a golf course or as a newspaper reporter in an old movie. Yesterday he even had on a leather motorcycle cap, like something Marlon Brando would wear way back in the day. (You might think I’m poking fun at him, but in reality I am very jealous. I love hats, too. I’m this close to pulling the trigger on a big white cowboy hat…don’t tell Chris.)

In personality he is uber-uber-uber extroverted. (What’s the Spanish word for extrovert? Extroverto? I have no idea.) He’s like my friend Adam, if Adam were a 54-year-old Mexican real estate broker with a Luigi moustache and a love for funny hats. (What do you think, Adam? Second career? Better start growing that moustache now…)

Anyway Luis knocks on our door this morning and bounds in, picks up half the stuff he came to pick up and I pick up the other half, and we take them downstairs to his beat-up red pickup. Then he turns to follow me back upstairs. “Uh,” I say, “Creo es todo…/I think that’s all of it…” “Si,” he nods and then blows past me, leading the way back up to the apartment. Okay…

He takes a seat and immediately begins to chat. Apparently he has an hour to kill before his next appointment, so he’s going to practice his English with me. He speaks (mostly) in English, and I respond (mostly) in Spanish, and we correct each other. It’s actually very helpful – makes me realize I’d be a much better Spanish-speaker if I had more Mexican friends.

(I actually thought about making Mexican friends by joining the basketball league in San Juan de Los Lagos (we found one in the newspaper), quickly making a name for myself by being taller than everyone else and earning the nickname El Gringo just before I retire at the top of my game, only to return just before the municipal playoffs with a simple three-word press release - Yo he vuetlo – and scoring a double-nickel in my first visit to our Eastside rivals…but now that we’re in Lagos I don’t think that will work. Goodbye, hoop dreams…)

Luis asks me about my family, do I have brothers or sisters, what do my parents do – standard Spanish-class stuff – and then tells me about his life. He’s worked many different jobs, and he likes his current real estate job better than anything else so far, but he’s still kind of dissatisfied because he doesn’t think he’s reached the end, the pinnacle of what he wants to do. Luis, you see, is working on a dream.

His sueño muy grande – his “big dream,” he says in English – is to move to Puerto Vallarta and start a real estate business there. He has this whole plan worked out where he sells English-language paperbacks to vacationing foreigners (he’s already collected a shelf full of them), then uses the transaction to start up a conversation, build trust… and then convince them to buy a house. Yep, Luis is a businessman. But every time he talks about his dream, he gets this wistful look in his eyes, and it’s hard not to absorb some of the happiness of his dream, far-off though it may be, that pours out of him whenever he starts talking about it.

Before he left Luis asked about the new collages – or posters, as he called them – that now adorn our walls. He spotted Bruce Springsteen immediately – Luis loves the music of the 70s and keeps asking me whether I, too, love Neil Diamond (“um, a little, sure!”) – and then started talking about Bruce’s famous song, “Born in the U.S.A.” The americanos, Luis says, are so patriotic! They must just love their country so much. Every time the national anthem is played during a sporting event the people go crazy! And so on.

At first I tried to interrupt so I could explain that, actually, “Born in the U.S.A.” is actually not that happy at all but is in fact a bitter, muy triste lament about a Vietnam veteran who is rejected when he comes back to the land of his birth, but once Luis got going I didn’t have the heart to bring him down. I’ll have to explain the complicatedness of Bruce Springsteen – and America – another time.

Or maybe I should introduce Luis to “Working on a Dream.” I was thinking of translating it into Spanish anyway…

Aqui las noches son larga y los dias son soltero
Yo pienso sobre ti y estoy trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño

Las cartas yo he tocado son una mano muy dificil, cariño
Yo recto mi espalda y estoy trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño

Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Aunque algunas veces lo siente muy lejos
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Y yo sé que lo estará mio un día

La lluvia esta vertiendo yo recogo mi martillo
Mis manos son brusco por trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño

Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Aunque dificultad puede sentir como es aqui por siempre
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Y nuestro amor cazará la dificultad por afuera

Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Aunque lo puede sentir muy lejos
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Y nuestro amor lo hará actual un día

Amanecer viene, yo trepo el escalera
El nuevo día está aqui y estoy trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Estoy trabajando por un sueño

Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Aunque lo puede sentir muy lejos
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Y nuestro amor lo hará actual un día

Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Aunque lo puede sentir muy lejos
Estoy trabajando por un sueño
Y nuestro amor lo hará actual un día…

Ok, so as you Spanish-speakers can see, maybe I'll have to get Chris's help with this one. There's only so much you can do with six weeks of Spanish class and a traveler's dictionary...

Update: As I sat down to post this in the coffee shop (which serves as my Internet time for the day), Luis walked by, waved to me…and then before I could even so much as right-click on the computer he came in and sat down and ordered a coffee and talked to me for two hours. (For the record, Puerto Vallarta came up at least twice.)

1 comment:

From Michigan with Love said...

Haha sadly I don't know if it is even posseble (in spanish but I do not know how to do the accent thingys. nor put in italics, nor spell correctly!) for me to grow a moustache...maybe if I start now I can have one by the time I'm 54...I love how I get my reference in your blog to the hyper Mario-like landlord!!! All your other friends are deep thinkers and worldly theologians and I'm a local! I couldn't be happier...I have to go stop crying with joy now!...no seriously...thanks! :-)