Youth

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I took this in Old San Juan, where I spent the best chunks of my first youth.

Remember that day when we woke up and August was a newborn baby that had been thrown at our feet? People would judge us negatively if they knew we had some fun kicking it around a little.
Those were the days in which time was nothing but a word.
We were cultural nomads, performers of perfect nonchalance, beautiful trash, broken angels with no bank accounts.
We punished our livers, fully aware that tomorrow was a dream, a mere promise, a world away.
We screamed, ran, ate, sang, and fucked inside the warm, unbreakable cocoon of youth.
We unashamedly went back to the few places in our lives where we’d been happy and demanded more.
We devoured all the wrongs books for the right reasons and invented excuses to be angry.
We allowed the sun to caress our skin with utter disregard for cancer and other adult matters.
We spoke with the loas and listened to songs pregnant with life-altering meanings.
The horizon was only a tiny spiral that some giant had forcefully uncoiled and laid out before us just so we could have something to look at while we breathed.
We ate with our hands. We drank until we lost control and then realized you don’t need control when all you need is within your grasp. We were poor and had so little we couldn’t even afford to give a fuck about being broke.
We pulled pelicans out of the air and tied them to our fingertips. Then we wrote. The words were fresh, electric. They vibrated with life and promise for a second and then vanished. Or we burned them.
There were hopes and dreams and gorgeous clichés all around us.
We played Russian Roulette with real bullets while doing shots of 151-proof and reciting stolen verses.
When the elders yelled at us about the vicious nature of death from the top of their imagined ivory towers, we yelled back. “Tell that bitch to come!” we said. “We shall take her pale ass dancing!”
Then a few years passed. A scab of cynicism covered the beautiful, raw, bleeding wound that was our youth.
Now I sometimes grab a rusty nail and use it to dig around in my veins. On my lucky days I find a clump of youth and snort it. It’s the best drug I’ve ever used. On my unlucky days, sadness and bureaucracy bubble out and drown the blue birds that like to hand from my eyebrows. The lucky days are few and far between.
Youth. Words. I know they’re still here. They keep me going. After all, eternal youth is only a perfect story away.

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