God if it weren’t for music, I just don’t know. I am laying in a hammock, smoking a hand rolled cigar and sipping slowly from a bottle of Uvita de Plata, wine from the Argentinean side of the Plata Basin. I know the man who grew, dried and rolled my cigar; he is my neighbor and I’d be a liar if I said knew someone else who smiled and laughed as much as he does. He lives in a wood home with a dirt floor across the street from me. The wine is the best that this depression (no pun intended) in the otherwise thrust-skyward geography of South America has to offer--with no seaward facing hills and little topography to speak of, this wine is certainly not cut out for fine meals in the big city, but goddamn if it isn’t a great accompaniment to a Paraguayan cigar. Its like a little third-world concerto in my mouth: the rising fumes from my tobacco are the maestro, the wine, an orchestra and me, the captive and mindless audience.
The ceiling of the world seems to me to have been put on backwards again. Cosmic orientations mean that the southern sky still provokes a gut-reaction of confusion and mystery. It’s like I am on another planet. I might as well be. I wonder how the stars looks from Titan? Here at least, I find amusement in the fact that Orion is standing on his head, his arm and sword wielded awkwardly against the opposite horizon. In this hemisphere, he is fighting perpetually with the lion while doing a hand stand. Part of me wishes he would take his job more seriously. The other part(s) of me enjoy the entertainment. This great battle raging in slow, epoch-slow motion. Who wins in the end?
There is an understanding and a madness that comes with immense solitude. Certainly, where I am in the middle of this continent does not necessarily equate solitude, but the storms in my soul certainly do. This world is musical theater and don’t you forget it. Authors have written for centuries and as their words have lasted, their meanings have been lost. You can only know the story by knowing the storyteller and that’s the absolute truth. On this windless night, I can smell my grandfather on the smoke-filled air surrounding me. These cigars ignite much older memories in my mind, memories of my Grandpa Gib (ironically, not my Cuban grandfather, but my Wisconsin, philosopher, farming grandfather instead). He was a great man and I am more like him than I ever thought. And not just because of the cigars.
This is not to say that I am great, just that I think too much for my own good. I think that one day, when I have a child and if that child is a boy, I will name him Hilberto--after both my grandpa Gib (short for Gilbert) and my Cuban uncle Hilberto (the Spanish version of the same name). Right now, I am going to finish this cigar, have a few more sips of the Plata’s finest and call it a night. The humidity is condensing on my skin as the night begins to drop to a balmy and cool 90 degrees. I wonder how I will sleep tonight? More dreams of her, I am sure.
from the Southern Sky,