Bonding with your sister has got to be one of the best things in life. Try it
Today is my last day in Atlanta. I look forward to my next stop, but with a heavy heart, as I leave my sister behind. This time she has decided not to come to Manila with me, as she has in the past. She retired last year. Or so she thought. But I can see that she has never been busier. I know this is good for her. But I am sad.
My plane leaves at noon. It is a short flight to West Palm Beach, where my youngest child and her two beautiful daughters will be waiting for me. I can almost taste the joy of seeing them again. I can only imagine the sweetness of our first encounter. But it does not make it easier.
It has been a wonderful five weeks. Bonding with your sister has got to be one of the best things in life. Try it.
There wasn’t a day that we didn’t have to gasp for air from laughing, or reach for Kleenex for a bit of crying. We played “remember when” a lot. We brought back memories of being young and foolish, making mistakes, falling in love, of winning and losing. All was not smooth sailing, but by the grace of God we weathered the storms.
Today, we love what and who we have become. Not too many of us, who Latinos call “de la tercera edad,” can say that.
On my last weekend here we got adventurous. We explored old Little Norcross, just a short drive away. The quaint little town oozes with charm. Their main street is dotted with small restaurants, a bank and a few other establishments. There used to be an old railroad station across the street. It is now a landmark hamburger place. The sidewalks are lined with trees that are lit up all year round, giving it a festive air.
Saturday night, it was teeming with people. There was no place to park. Tables set on the sidewalk were all taken. We circled the block and were lucky to find an empty slot right behind El Mojito, a much-touted Cuban restaurant and watering hole known for its good eats and incredible salsa—no, not the sauce. Our friend, an IT by day and conga player on weekends, met us outside.
We entered the bar/bistro/club through a huge white tent that was spilling over with the overflow crowd. My fight or flight instinct went into gear. I hate crowds. But we were curious and hungry and couldn’t turn back.
The place is long and narrow; I mean about 12 feet wide, no windows, crammed with tables and chairs. The stage is tiny. There is a shelf on the wall for amplifiers. The kitchen is off to one side. Traffic was crazy, with guests grabbing chairs and waitresses carrying gigantic trays. It was a mess.
After lots of pushing and shoving, we found ourselves at the front door, on the sidewalk, glad to be breathing fresh air. We debated if we should stay. Then as if by magic, we were seated at a table close to the band.
Picture this. There are eight people crammed in front of the drums and mini grand piano on stage. Three guys offstage are holding conga drums. Maybe they are customers?
Because I belong to a show biz family, I worry about this God-awful setup. There are no stage lights. The pretty singer is not quite dressed for show. The boys wear T-shirts. They have to play under the worst conditions, noisy room, no state-of-the-art speakers, and you can forget about ear monitors or reverb. Just eight (or was it nine) guys and a girl up there, and their instruments look beat up, raw and very ethnic.
The crowd is excited. The girl gives the downbeat. It’s show time. OMG, they are good.
There is no dance floor at El Mojito. But no one seems to mind. The people get up and dance anyway. They keep the energy going for over an hour, squeezing their bodies between tables, moving chairs out of their way, yes, with people in them. Our waitress moves to the rhythm as she goes from table to table, pouring more beer.
Who said my dancing days are over? In my mind, I didn’t miss a beat. I want to go back. So it’s noisy and you can’t chat. Who cares?
Those are happy people on that stage. In rhythm and song they tell you: “We love what we’re doing up here. This is the music of our life.”
Without much fanfare this band taught me an important show biz lesson: you don’t need a mammoth production with sound and lights experts, choreographers or special effects. All you need is to love your music. You may have the beat and the moves, but what you need most is the heart!
By the way, everyone on that stage has an honest-to-goodness day job. But on weekends, when the sun goes down, it’s salsa time!
The year is almost over. Tomorrow starts the first “ber” month. No, I have not heard a Christmas song yet. But I did see the trappings of Halloween in the store today. And suddenly I am thinking turkey.
Tomorrow my first grandson is 34, but he is too far away for me to hug. Thank you Facebook!
It is always at this time every year that I have a little bout with melancholy. I stop to reminisce. And for a brief moment I am blue. But it passes quickly. All I need to do is look at what I have around me. I feel the love and “my cup runneth over.”