I wake up on April 12, 2007, aware that nine days ago was the nine year anniversary of my mother’s death and that two weeks earlier was the tenth anniversary of my father’s passing.
I commemorated these occasions by taking a trip by myself to Mexico, a few weeks ago: jumped into the blue ocean of Acapulco, perused the outdoor market of Tepoztlán, and strolled the city of Teotihuacan, its pyramids flanked by sharp aloe plants.
Today, I’m not thinking too much about Mexico, although I will happily glance at the Myspace profile picture of my beaming face, that selfie above the ocean before I remember such pictures being called selfies. Right now, I have to get my sons ready for school.
Felix is two years old, his brother Albizu is three. They both attend The Albany Free School, the oldest democratic school in the United States. Felix wakes up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like his grandfather, as if they each have/had an internal Puerto Rican rooster who signals them to rise daily. Albizu is like his grandma, don’t want to wake up for nothing, and grumpy as hell. I’m going to wipe the snot off his face and I know we’re gonna have some words.
I’m looking high and low for socks. These tiny effin socks. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own size twelves. These little things will bring me to an early death, I’m convinced. Giving up on finding matching pairs, I settle for close enough and shove four socks on the two pairs of feet in front of me. Gloves? We are past those days, thank the heavens. We are only looking at a high of fifty-five degrees, but we have had enough warm days that I don’t think I’m gonna lose parenting points for leaving gloves out of the morning outfit. Two hats, two coats, their good.
Text from my boo:
“Mornin, luv you.
“Mornin. Luv u too!”
It’s still kind of new between us; we’ve been dating less than a year. She just started an internship on an organic farm in the Berkshires, an hour east of here. Much of our days are filled with “I miss you so much texts,” even though we know we will see each other on the weekend.
“What you up to?” she asks.
“Just dropped the boys off, bout to head to work.”
“Cool, talk later?”
I start my trek up Madison Ave, coming up from Grand St. I can’t see the plaza yet, but the cathedral is straight ahead. Once I get up enough of the hill, I can now see the whole of the Empire State Plaza: The New York State Museum, The Egg, and The Corning Tower (locally known as Rockefeller’s last erection). It’s warm enough to cut across the plaza, so I stroll across this Modernist construction, monolithic buildings flanked by cube shaped trees. There was a neighborhood here once; there’s a documentary about it called "The Neighborhood That Disappeared."
I finally make my way up to 33 Central Ave., The Social Justice Center. I am the executive director which makes me a professional activist. A friend of mine once told me that he pictures me sitting in the office dispensing social justice to anyone who needs it. Not true. I manage a database, I call the roofer when we need one, and yes, I organize meetings to challenge criminal justice system. But most of the time, I’m taking care of a random detail. Today, I need to go to the hardware store and pick up a new mop, but first I’ll check the voicemail…
It’s April 12, 2017. I will wake up and rollover to kiss my boo (same boo), her name is Laura. I’ll pat her belly and tell our fetus hello. The other two? Giants. They don’t need to be dressed by me anymore. Felix still has that internal rooster, and Bizu still doesn’t like getting up, but he’s marginally better at hiding it. I’ll be running late to work, so I’ll quickly shower and get ready to head out the door.
“I’ll miss you,” I’ll say.
“I’ll miss you too, have a good day.”
Off to the bus I catch right below the plaza, a block up from Grand St., in the shadow of Rockefeller’s you know what. Headed to the Social Justice Center you ask? No, but don’t worry, I’m still on the board of directors; I have a meeting there on Friday.
I’m a professor now. I teach writing.
I haven’t been to Mexico in a decade. I guess it was the twentieth anniversary of my father’s passing a couple of weeks ago, and my mom’s nineteenth. I didn’t commemorate those moments, but I’ve thought about them a lot lately.
Victorio Reyes Asili is an activist and artist living in Albany, NY. Victorio is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University at Albany. He was featured in the anthology of emerging writers: Chorus—A Literary Mixtape, published by MTV Books. Additionally, his poems have been published in the Acentos Review, The Mandala Journal, Pilgrimage Magazine, Mobius, Word Riot, The Pine Hills Review, and the anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. He is also an essayist and has published work discussing activism and literature, exploring the writings of Adrienne Rich, Justin Torres, and Frantz Fanon. His essays can be found at Awst Press and She Breathes. Blending his writing and activism, Reyes Asili served as the executive director of The Social Justice Center of Albany for 11 years.
Victorio recommends you check out the Albany Social Justice Center. The center works for progressive social change through mutual support and collective action. Visit albanysjc.org.