The Lonely “Gypsy”
Gypsy’s are inherently transient but rarely lonely, they’re communal, and although they’re said to travel a great deal, they’re hardly considered cosmopolitan. I guess that means I can’t be a Gypsy; I am cosmopolitan. I wonder if that alone is enough to disqualify me. I wonder if you also need Gypsy blood. Oh, … to be a Gypsy king (like every Gypsy I’ve ever met, though I confess that as far as I know I’ve only met one).
I’ve lived in many, many places, way too many for my taste, though I’m now back where I started. And I’ve left important pieces of my heart in more than a few of them. I’ve always hated the transience but I’m not sure I regret having come to know the places I miss so; ambivalence rages in my soul.
I remember as a child, when we moved at least annually (no, neither of my parent’s served in the military), how on the last day before departing (or perhaps fleeing, I wasn’t aware enough to know), I’d wander around the apartment (we hardly ever lived in a house) and around the neighborhood saying goodbye to things. Not to people though, or at least not too often, that was too painful; perhaps a harbinger of who I’d become. Not that I didn’t have “friends”. Although I was painfully shy, people took to me, all kinds of people, cool people, popular people, jocks, nerds, loners, proto-Goths, their parents, their friends, my teachers, everyone. But I somehow knew they wouldn’t be in my life for long. Society had already started its drift into transiency and I guess my family was a pioneer.
Although, over a very full life, I’ve come to know a great many people, many very well, I don’t think I have many real “friends”, not in the sense that I idealize friendship to be. I’ve met several people here who, when time has had a bit more time to test us, may prove to have been very important; most, sadly, involving failed relationships (I seem to have quite a few of those); and I certainly have some very old, long distance bonds, both spatially and temporally, that might fit my idealized image of a “friend”: my classmates at the Citadel and at EMA; my former students; Marianne and Don, vestiges from my youth; Lenny and Tony, former business partners. And I certainly have family, here and in various other parts of Latin America as well as in other mountains far to the North; and I have my sister Marina (who knows where) and my brother Teddy (isolated within himself); and half-sisters in Chicago and Venezuela who’ve become very meaningful to me (my father was prolific and mysterious), and cousins and nieces everywhere.
Most importantly of course, I have my three sons, two of whom live with me now, although when I left my home in Central Florida a bit more than four years ago, I left alone, utterly alone, and for the first year I mourned the fragmentation of what had superficially seemed so permanent. My three sons visited almost a year later, and my second son decided to stay for a while, he’s been with me, on and off, for more than two of those years and is generating roots here, although like me, he leaves pieces of his heart wherever he goes. More recently and somewhat surprisingly, my youngest son joined us, for how long we don’t know. He’s floundering a bit, the support he’d relied on having been abruptly withdrawn; I don’t believe he thinks of Manizales, my current home, as his home, not yet, but his options seem limited. Hopefully his brother Alex and I can help him find himself and start on a path towards a self-reliant and productive future, hopefully a happy future. My eldest son from time to time talks about joining us as well. I wonder if, contrary to popular lore, Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again.
Happiness has been elusive for me, seemingly only residing in memories, but memories where I hadn’t realized I was happy. Intellectually I play a game where that means that perhaps I’m happy now, but I don’t think it’s true. I’m lost I think, and I can’t find my way out, but perhaps that’s because I don’t know where out is. Of the three places I love most I’m in one now but miss the others very much: Charleston, the holy city; and New York, large chunks of New York, Manhattan, Queens, the North Shore of Long Island, all filled with echoes and shadows and quite a few rainbows.
As I write I wonder at the melancholy that seems to fill me; in many ways I’m doing just what I always thought I’d most want to do, and I think I’m being true to the me I want to be. Then, reflecting, I decide that it may be that I’m slipping into that place where my youngest son Edward seems to be, — the future nebulous before us.
Hopefully for both of us it’s just a transitory state.
 © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2011; all rights reserved