Skinny Legs And All: La Griega

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me..."
It's a few weeks until my daughter will be three and a half years old. Sometimes I wish I could rewind and go back to the time of her birthday this year. It was a happy time. Maybe the heat of summer is just getting to me.

The Moon is waning now. It's a time to do protective and banishing work. There's bad juju in the new apartment and I'm going to cleanse it. It's been scrambling the signals ever since we moved. It's also menacing at night. I can't fall asleep without Pixie right next to me, and my daughter almost never makes it through a whole night without waking up scared.

I was talking to my mom about my daughter waking up all the time, it's been going on for a while, and she told me to get some sage and do what I gotta do. I'm "that person" in my family. My dad calls me The Soothsayer. Once my mom called me up from across the country and yelled at me to tell my friends to give her back her car keys.
"My friends?"
"The fairies! It's one thing if they mess with YOU but tell them to give me back my keys, I have to be somewhere!"
"Um..."
"Hurry up, I always keep them in the same place and I've been searching for twenty minutes already!"
"All right, all right, put the phone on speaker."
She found them.

Have you heard of the bad eye? It's a Mediterranean thing. It's the idea that people can give you bad luck with just a look. Especially if they're envious, then they might do it without even trying. You have to do things to neutralize it or it will really mess with you, and I've been remiss. Luckily, I know someone who knows a remedy that works long distance who's just a text away.

My dearest friend, code name La Griega, keeps my secrets. She's in charge of them if I die before her, knock on wood. She taught me how to bellydance when we were 14. It was the perfect time. Your body starts whispering secrets when you're a girl that age, and learning that dance helps you hear them better. (If you've never read "Skinny Legs and All," by Tom Robbins, but you don't have time to start a whole new book, just skip to the end when Salome finally does the Dance of the Seven Veils. It's the best part, anyway.) She sewed me a red chiffon skirt with gold colored beads on the edges for my bellydancer costume that I wore to a Halloween party. She wasn't even allowed to go to the party herself, her parents were extremely strict, but she made it for me anyway.



I was at her house before our Christmas trip to the Land at the end of last year, and I hadn't seen her in a long time. Many years. We were having a typical catch-up at first, then older memories started to flow from those years, ninth grade, tenth grade in particular. 

I remembered that I used to buy books of Neruda poems and mark my favorite pages. She talked about us dancing in her basement to her dad's many Greek records. I told her about listening to the AM radio station out of Philly or DC, can't remember which, the night that Frank Sinatra died, how the sunset turned my bedroom walls orange while they played all his songs, and old ladies called in to tell stories about when they saw "Frankie" in concert in their youth. I looked at the light on the walls and told myself not to forget that moment, and I never have. And we had always dreamt of going to Italy and talked about it all the time, but we still haven't been. 

I found myself telling her that I wasn't really happy anymore, pouring my heart out, and that no one else knew it yet but I thought I really needed to... I couldn't say it. I looked down at my hands, and a little teardrop fell out of my eye. I looked back up at her, and she smiled gently and said, "It's okay to cry." Suddenly, we were fourteen again, and sitting in her old room at a sleepover, whispering sacred secrets, the dearest currency of momentous adolescent friendship.

I was talking on the phone with her the other night, I read her something I had written to ask her opinion on it. She said, "You know, when I saw you again after all those years, I felt kinda like something was missing. But since you started writing again, I feel like, 'There she is. Now she's back.'"

She also tells me to have faith a lot. And she is right. Every once in a while she has a really psychic night. If I'm lucky, I catch her at the right time and ask her questions and she tells me her visions: 

The bad eye has followed me for as long as she's known me, but it's my doubts that are my real enemy. They give the bad eye strength. 

Things will turn around and get good again. 

It's not a question of time, it's a question of light. 


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