Honey Moves To The Suburbs

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August 1, 2012 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Honey van Blossom

Juan Morales thinks those who were born in the United States are the white people except for those he grew up with.   Those who took him to Virginia from Guatemala when he was eighteen are the Mennonite people.   Whenever Mennonites come to California, he drops whatever he’s doing and goes to visit with them, and sometimes he already knows them.


When he removes his cap, black hair as thick as brush sticks up, and then he smashes his cap back on his head.   Juan siempre esta allegre.   Nothing perturbs him.  Whatever is wrong or broken, Juan will fix it.   He fixed our leaning chimney with fourteen men who made chimneys without scaffolding, when it was our house.   He fixed the ancient washer and dryer.  He fixed the ceiling when a rat chewed through a hot water pipe.   He found my engagement ring in the large descending back yard he had planted for me – this was before my husband took back the ring and my wedding band.   He cannot fix my broken heart but he can drive the U-Haul through the Central Valley and fix the car dolly along the road without tools.


He lost three wallets and four cell phones and thieves took his pick-up twice in the ten years I have known him.   We once drove around LA looking for one of his trucks but did not find it.  His wife went back to Guatemala but she came back.   His father fell off a tree when he was 74 so Juan did not let him back up in trees after that.   When Mmenonite people come to California, he is sometimes missing when he drives to wherever they are.   He drives to Guatemala because he is afraid of airplanes.   Brigands accost him in Mexico.  He pays them off.


Juan disappeared in the U-Haul.   He reappeared at the U-Haul business on San Fernando.   The clerk would not address me at first then she asked if all I had to help me was Juan.  I told her he was enough.


They discussed the car dolly, and I paid.   He re-appeared at the back of the truck and spoke with a man who did not speak to me, and I drove my Isuzu up the ramp.


“ How do they know to speak Spanish with you?”  I asked.


“I am brown,” he says.


“Not everyone who is brown speaks Spanish.”  He thinks about this.


Juan said his grandfather was a black man.  His mother was Spanish and Indian.  Maybe they were once Maya people.   One of his six brothers is a black man.  Two are Indians.  His sister looks like white people.   His wife’s father did not approve of Juan because his grandfather was a black man but got used to him.  Juan’s children look like white people, and his daughter is in college in Santa Clarita.


“Their children will forget Spanish,” I said.


“No.  My children promised they would not forget.  We will go back one day.  “You will come to visit with us in Guatemala” he says as if we will all live hundreds of years and as if everything is possible.


“What happened to the Maya?”  He asked.


“They are still in Guatemala.  They didn’t go away.”


“Where were they from?”


“Probably from Asia across the Bering Strait. “  But that sounds unimaginable to me even as I say it.


“There are many white people in Guatemala,” he said.   I think of going to his village, which is in the mountains, where the water has become contaminated in the past forty years.   I apologized for Ronald Reagan.   I said I didn’t vote for Reagan but I know Reagan would have been Juan’s friend if they had met because everyone is his friend.   He sees the world as full of friends and people who will become friends.


We saw two dead orchards.   A sign declared the federal government was responsible but there were other orchards.   Juan said they were apricot trees.  On 680, a sign by the Tea Party read, “Obama here is your pink slip.”


I showed him how to get on the 580 to the 680.  He liked the trees and the undeveloped hills.  The streets are new, and the office buildings are new.  A BART train passed on a track above us.   He loved it.


My daughter Olga’s family stood in front of my new house on Shakespeare Drive in Concord.    My son-in-law Lance Brick put in new windows, new closets, painted the house inside and out got appliances, hauled out 175 pounds of dried dog turds and close to a thousand pounds of hardened bags of concrete.  I thanked them.  Lance said I should remember they were Republicans.   Republicans help their own, Olga said as if Democrats do not.  My elderly women cousins, one of whom tried to drown me when I was seven, are Republicans.  They took me out to dinner and gave me one thousand dollars before I left Los Angeles.


I looked at my Olga and said, “Have you become a Republican?”  She didn’t answer.  “You did, didn’t you?  Will I have Republican grandchildren? Are you going to vote for Romney?”


I phoned Juan to ask if he liked the train.  Lance had driven him to Martinez and put him on a train.  Juan had never been on a train before.


A man who went to high school with my son-in-law sanded the floors with big machines that sucked up dust.   The history of previous owners is in the floors: they had cats; they had a flood.  He brought in clean new wood and laid it over thick black paper.  His father died of acute alcoholism and his mother died soon after.   His family lives in the house where he grew up.   His wife has cancer.


People in suburbia stand at distances from each other like Dutch people.  One of the orders of things in Concord is to close the windows all day against the heat.  In the Staples on San Fernando, everyone crowded the counters, pushing.  In the Staples in Concord, they stand in line but several feet from each other. Old women get in fights with each other if one of them moves into a forbidden place in the check out line.


The suburbanscape looks like places in South Florida except South Florida is a fake place built on the real land and here we are all connected to sewers, gas and electric and there are no alligators and there are hills and the sky is not as brilliant.   It is also like the San Fernando Valley only cleaner and newer like Disneyland.  There is no graffiti.  There are no homeless people.


The Isuzu uses half a tank of gas a day in suburbia.  The Isuzu has no air conditioning.  I freeze plastic bottles of water and pour the melting water on my head when I drive.


On the other side of the 680 is downtown Pleasant Hill.  Downtown Pleasant Hill is ersatz.  It is a shopping mall.  The businesses, the restaurants, and the theater are new and brand-generic. In the downtown Bed Bath and Beyond one of the clerks has no one standing in line for her.   She wears a wig and her mouth is downturned.  She is sour and piercingly bitter.


I understand as I wheel a shopping trolley through Bed Bath and Beyond that I have accumulated a great many books, clothes made for climates I left long ago and that I have not acquired tools, gadgets, pots or pans, toilet brushes or drain stoppers.  How could I have lived like this for so long?


Juan left parts to my bed in the U-Haul.  U-Haul employees said they would get back to me.  They didn’t. I called the corporate office.  They would get back to me. I went down to the U-Haul today and waited in line.  They throw things out after two weeks, the clerk said.   It’s too late.   I phoned the man who divorced me.   He asked what Newhall had to do with parts to the bed.   He says Juan is next door fixing things in the backyard.  I know this is because our neighbor fixed her sewer line herself.   He understands me to have said she is fixing her cervix and does not understand Juan’s role.


My older grandson is very tall.  Every inch of him is muscle. He plays basketball eight hours a day and then goes swimming.  He eats all the time.   He has lunch three times a day.  He is a giant Hobbit.  His mother says I should get a toilet plunger for when he visits.   He stands on hills and imitates air raid sirens.


His parents decided he is going to be normal.  It had not occurred to me to raise children to be normal: to make that decision.  It astounds me.  He is not allowed to study dance anymore because it is girly.  He stays up all night watching porn, sites on Sufi-ism and Adolph Hitler, reading Thomas Moore’s Utopia, and reviewing his potential Halloween costumes for October.  He adores Frank Sinatra and the Big Bands.   He insists that the site listed in the computer history for cross-dressing was a pop up but that was the last straw for the parents.   They removed the door to his bedroom.


He is thirteen, dyslexic, has audio-processing disorder and is really loud.  He wants to grow opium poppies in my backyard.   He laughs a lot.  He has been in a school for autistic and Asperger’s children, almost all of them boys with encyclopedic knowledge.  He is not autistic, nor does he have Asperger’s.   Mt. Diablo School District did not know where else to put him.


I spent an afternoon talking with one of his friends – also thirteen — and he is sorry but he has to let me know that JFK made serious errors during his presidency.  We discuss Paleolithic man, the Neolithic Revolution, and the extinction of the mega fauna after the arrival of the aboriginal people.


Ethan tells him he wants his door back.   His friend says he would also like to have the door to his bedroom back.   I tell them I want them to have their own radio show but they are going to have a garage band.  Ethan will play the oud.


My five-year old grandson runs his monologue about toilets, farts, penises, asses, boobs, boogers of different hues some of them almost invisible whenever he is awake.   He looks like a cherub in a 17th century French painting.


When someone turns on my Comcast-connected television for me, Los Angeles is the backdrop to tales about serial killers and to car commercials.








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