Part II: “Ángel Flying” (795 words)
It does have a nice ring to it, ángel. But—Diós mío!--they’re much too cosmically actualized, for my lifestyle or comfort or good, to be, even in a seemingly God-forsaken place like Teotecacinte, Nicaragua, awash with the tears of Diós. I’m also a tad bit shy of heights, though I’m quite the jetsetter these days, and I’ve caught outrageous flying dreams, for years, swooping here, darting there, like Mercury transcendent. In those, I’m free, with no restraints of gravitas or gravity: I leap to the sun for lunch, amigos, to the moon for tea, then, cruise the tops of trees and montañas, even enter distant wormholes, then—whoosh--off to other galaxies, in sueños muy profundos. But that’s flight dreams for you, which we all have in our sleep, perhaps when we need more conscious freedom. I used to have them frequently when beleaguered by the 75,000 papers I’ve graded over the CMC years. Otherwise, I’m firmly tied to the ground, even after losing close to 100 pounds in the last two years. I did once draw a map of Glenwood Canyon from 4000 feet up for the Highway Department, back in ‘76, but, I swear, that was just creative visualization. I’m no light-blooming arcángel, as most in Glenwood know.
I do have a history of somewhat angelic proportions, there, though. Since my 30’s, I’ve been a seeker after truth, a la Socrates, in and out of myself, a guarantee of iluminación, occasionally, and a ton of blind alleys, as well, mostly kept dark in my sanctum sanctorium closet. I’ve also caused heartache to others, long-distance especially, sharing visiones profundos, in the artificial perfectísimo of letters and words, even when written with the best intentions. I wooed my first wife, for instance, a former high school sweetheart, with missives románticos, worthy of a latter-day Shakespeare, winging seductively in 1972 from Jersey to the ski-slopes of Vail. Ay, Chihuahua! The reality of our brief marriage was hardly angélico! I now prefer eye-to-eye conversation, to avoid painful pratfalls en la futura.
Eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, it’s the only way here in Teote. Beyond the fact that many here don’t read or write at any depth, most are gifted conversacionalistas, gauging truth or lie with pointed discernment, from centuries of foreign manipulation. Perhaps, since I’m a master gardener, after all, I trace this campesino groundedness to their devotion to agricultura, because most have honeyed hands in the soil with plants and seeds and weeds and mud, for all their humble lives. It takes a focused gardener to know one. Trust and honor, here, are earned with a scan of the eyes, a very good lesson in dialogue leading to mutuality, the gift of los ángeles, worthy of intense cultivation, with ample fertilizers of gracias and verdad.
Even though my whole familia de ángeles son locos, this craziness is a long-standing family joke, stemming from my first trip. In a night of story-telling, playing “Truth or Lie”--Verdád ó Mentira—around the fire on the floor of the sala, lit to discourage mosquitos, to bring light to our faces for discerning wheat from chaff. Don Moncho stood on one leg, atop the hot seat in the middle of the family circle, with a mop on his head, a bright red poncho for a capo, his machete aloft, pretending to be “San Miguel to the Rescue” when Contras invaded his cocina, looking for fresh recruits from among his young sons, in 1983. “Miguel,” he said, “had spirited his hijos to the iglesia in the upper town, for a night of prayer.” Even Contras understood the call of the Arcángel, so they left the house alone. Denis, Jose Ramon and Luis were really undercover, beneath mi madre’s altar table, with its trailing oilskin. Laughing like a loco at his wit, I told him that “all Betancos are crazy.” He agreed, as did the rest, and it stuck. We all agreed he’d told the Truth in the telling, even if he’d sort of told a lie to the soldiers. I’m sure the teens were praying to San Miguel y La Virgen y Jesús y Diós, while under the altar, very hard, and for the rest of the scary night, with gracias, again in their camas.
About this other ángel bit, mi padre won’t take “No” for an answer, “esta vez,” he said, directly to my eyes, with viejito firmness. He’s very macho, campesino stubborn when he thinks he’s correcto. So am I, es verdad, when I get my feathers—Oops, I mean, my rooster hackles—riled up. Then, I can really be a very persuasive fighting gallo, mano a mano, without scratching a soul. We’ll see what’s what, what’s not, what’s up, what’s down--Good Lord!--in the flighty hills of Catholic Nicaragua.