Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cada Día Pienso En Tí

My Papi is in town from Santo Domingo, and I'm a happy, happy, happy camper.

When I saw he was calling to say he arrived safely my heart actually skipped a tiny beat, because I knew his voice would be on the line and HE himself is a mere 40 minutes away by subway.

My Papi is the best dad a girl could ever have- just ask Minnie or Mari. We each have our own biological dads, but none of them compare with Papi; he's like Super Dad.

We all grew up in his house, this big, long railroad apartment on Patchen Avenue in the heart of Bed-Stuy on the border of Bushwick that was filled with more beds than a Sleepy's showroom. Because at one point or another we all lived and/or slept there. That's just the kind of grandparents I had.

Papi used to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to work at some factory in Union City. Til this day I still don't know what he did, but it paid him enough to keep us housed and fed, and paid for my Grandma's doctor's visits and trough of meds. He always had a cap or Kangol to cover his bald spot, was the first person I ever knew who had a tattoo, and wore the same navy blue work pants everyday except weekends.

Nights when I slept over I always knew what time it was by the smell of Papi's Cafe Bustelo percolating on the stove, and I hate the way coffee tastes but the smell of Cafe Bustelo always turns me into a 9yr old. Always.

He used to make us sweet, sweet peanut brittle and thick banana milkshakes. Papi would let me sip his beer and taste the bitter malts mixed with sweet condensed milk he would drink at night. On weekends he would play the same cassettes of sad-as-fuck boleros as loud as he could, that we all knew the words to, with a 12-pack of really tiny Budweiser's. I actually miss those songs.

Papi taught us to play cards and watched cartoons and baseball with me; or rather I with him. He went to all my birthday parties and graduations and sacraments (even though he held a deep disdain for the Catholic Church) and gave me piggie-back rides even after I was WAY TOO OLD for that. But he was strong, though. This man worked out on the regular, even made his own weights using paint cans, cement and a metal bar... I was never able to lift that thing!

Sometimes on Fridays he'd come home with take-out; I don't remember if it was a treat for us or a break for Grandma. And he never beat us, never raised a hand (well not me and Mari, anyway. Minnie on the other hand... LOL), just scolded us from time to time.

And one time he came home bleeding; he'd been robbed on his way home of his watch or something and I thought I would die on the spot-- someone hurt my Papi and could have taken him from me. It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood.

I remember he took me to see Bruce Lee movies as a kid and OH what joy!! A movie featuring a hot, kick-ass Asian with Papi!! I also remember that he let me practice corn rows on what hair he had left, god bless his loving heart.

And when he moved us to New Jersey he lifted the ban on letting us go outside to play, even went so far as to teach us to ride bikes and let us ride them... ALL IN THE STREET AND EVERYTHING!!

After he and Grandma moved back to DR, after he retired, there was a noticeable void in the family, but he assured me, over the phone, that my room was waiting for me whenever I wanted it.

I'll never ever ever be able to erase the sound or sight of the man I've always looked up to CRYING in my arms at Grandma's funeral, saying, "Que voy a hacer sin mi vieja?" But I also know that that's the exact moment I understood the meaning of true love. Taught to me by my Papi, just like it's supposed to be.

*besos...for my chain-smoking, loud-ass, sweet-ums, Papi... Bendicion, Pai*
and have I mentioned that he is all this to me and NOT a blood relative? I believe I have, but I wanted to stress that detail again: HE'S MY MOTHER'S STEP-FATHER.

Yeah, let that marinate for a minute, and then you'll understand why William R. Penzo is *dead* to me...

Title courtesy of Shakira, "Pienso En Tí

Monday's "One Thing Different"-- I didn't surf PerezHilton.com for celebrity gossip. I have to stop feeding my brain with that poison! I'm going through a lil withdrawal, but I'll be okay.