imageI’ve never liked martinis, too real, too much to the point that you are drinking. I have the tastes of a 19-year old, sweet, juicy and definitely not alcohol colored. If you’re buying, these include but are not limited to: mojitos, bellinis, mimosas, grey goose and cranberry, or concoctions that my favorite bartenders would make, invariably pink. If we’re talking tequila shots, then yes please, with a small coke.

I often wake up in a bad mood (it wanes somewhere around 10am). A ringing alarm clock is the worst sound in the world; that incessant buzzing that sneaks into your slumber to rouse you to the reality that there is a job and you should be there, if you like living in your place or eating.  I happen to like both these things, sometimes more than sleep.

I prefer fiction to the news. You can paint pretty pictures with words if they’re not too real. Too much of the dirt and grime of life and it becomes the world we are forced to comply with. The god-made, man-made, natural and unnatural disasters that may just happen to someone you know, someone you love.

I dress in black because color coordinating would ruin my perfected 10 minutes then out the door routine. I don’t wear make up because men don’t have to and I constantly touch my face.


I am here in this space, this place, so different from what I know. The streets are not the same, perils I never thought to perceive all around. Hearts broken in a million ways I never knew how, and in the interim a sweet cascade of exquisite beauty that is even more divine simply because of the contrast. Fear should be the first emotion, fear of being in a place not mine, in a life not yet assumed. But I am not scared, I am holding on to the threads of my existence by sheer will alone. And I feel strong. I couldn’t lie to myself any longer, believe in a life that only ever existed in my thoughts. So I came here, a world that only ever existed in borrowed memories.


The blind, elderly woman on the top of the stairs, positioned exactly where I want to stop and take a breath, and her voice, her weak, eaten-by-despair, voice asking for change I haven’t got today.  I look at the old woman and genuinely wish her a good morning, hoping that words can reach the universe and spare her if only for today.

The dirty street dogs with faces still full of trust as they follow from street corner to street corner with the hope that the kissing sounds I make to them are quickly followed by food. They like bread, especially the bread I buy at night for breakfast.

I witnessed cancer take my best friend away and I know that life is meant to be shared. I’ve assumed her courage, because my god was she ever courageous, even before the disease. We were young together, once. I know she would have enjoyed the shit out of my exit from New York.


The changing clouds form the backdrop for the Andes outside my window, just beyond the limit of my vision. The gentle drizzle that transforms into downpours are erased by the warmth of the sun. Like tears dried by warm winds caressing your face. The children laughing and screaming, surprisingly , their hair in perfect order, smelling of tropical fruits.  Those kids who kiss me on the cheek after class and wish me a good day. Their pencils always lying in wait for the words of English their parents tell them are important. The hope that education saves, because it can.


The alarm will ring again tomorrow, survival hinged on my awakening and being in places dressed in black and still not wearing make-up. I’ll read another book on the bus or in between jobs, a novel, most definitely and I’ll avoid the newspapers that have reality splayed on the front page, sometimes with blood (newspapers are gory here). I’ll buy my meat at the market, and ignore the overwhelming feeling I should be a vegetarian, and you should probably still not speak to me until 10am anyway.

When I get a cocktail this week it will definitely be pink, sweet and not at all reminiscent of the alcohol in it. A tequila shot will follow with a silent toast to the heart-breaking, the mystical, the real and romanticized, the grit and the glory.



8 thoughts on “Shake

  1. Lovely, and Cuenca is a great place to wear black. I save my change for old women. I gave a dollar coin to an old woman today and I got a $100 hug in return. Where are you teaching?


  2. Thank you, so much!!! In Cuenca, you wear black or black will wear you (especially if you live on any of the bus routes). I love your idea and the appreciation that is so often shown here. One of my jobs is at Canada house where I teach kids, they’re so sweet here And cuddly. Hope you enjoyed/are enjoying Cuenca 🙂


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