Café and Closure

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The first time I met O.D. Churroman was at a Salsa Festival where Willy Chirino was playing.

From the outset, café a lo cubano had been a huge part of our relationship.
After our second date, he demanded I invite him inside and prove my cafecito making skills… or there would be no third date.
In fact, for the longest time I was not allowed to touch his cafetera; he was in charge of the café making at his place.

We had entire conversations about Cuban coffee and, to hear him tell it, he taught me “how to make it better.”
We would send daily pictures of our espuma.
Eventually I graduated to being allowed to make my own cafecito while waiting for him to wake up.

And then he disappeared from my life (just after Labor Day 2011). It took me a long time to recover from being dropped so abruptly, but time heals all wounds and I eventually stopped keeping an eye out for him every time I was in LA. I stopped wondering what I would say if I ever saw him again.

And then there he was.

It was January 10, the night before my brother’s wedding at a Cuban documentary screening. He had to get up and greet me when his cousin, an acquaintance of mine, saw me and came over to say hello. After an awkward hug and exchange about how my dark hair “looked good”, the lights dimmed and the movie was about to start so we all went back to our seats. I didn’t see him after. It felt like a cruel joke from the universe.

And then it was Mother’s Day.
And his birthday.
And I HAD to say something.
So I sent a happy birthday email and appreciated that he wrote back.
I counted it as closure.

And then there he was.
Again.

It was the first time I’ve ever been to the free Cuban Festival in Echo Park because I’m usually in Miami for the weekend closest to 20 de Mayo.

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Since I have dated my fair share of LA Cubans, I usually expect to run into a few exs at these types of events that I’m still friendly with, but I never expected to see HIM.

There was no escaping the moment; we were heading directly for each other.
A polite greeting, a Cuban hug and kiss on the cheek, and the moment was over.

And then he walked by again, “The line for café is ridiculous!”
“I know! ALL the lines are stupid long! Bueno, have fun!”
And he walked away.

And then he walked by AGAIN, “I’m going to try again.”
“Dale! Bring me one, too!”
He stopped. Turned. Called me over to him and asked, “Excuse me? What was it you called me the other day? Joven?”
“Sure! Yes! Joven! Definitely not viejo!”
And he continued on and I wasn’t sure if I was getting café or not… so I waited to see.

And then walked by again.
And he handed me a cafecito.
And he walked away.
And, with that, our story came full circle.

Salud, chico.

3-D Wedding

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My brother is getting married.

My opinion is irrelevant. He is going to do it.

I am choosing to be Switzerland. I am neutral (mostly).

My job is 3-D management:

  1. Date – I need one.
  2. Dress – I need one.
  3. Drinks – I need more than one.

So, my goal for the next few months is to find a dress that I look not terrible in (nobody is supposed to care what I look like anyway, I just can’t look too terrible for the two pictures I need to be in).

I also need a date to this thing. Someone who is fun and distracting. Someone who will keep my cup full and not judge me on any of my behavior that day (so they will need to know me well enough to know how cool I am regardless of how not cool I behave that day).

I will need drinks. Swiss people drink, right? Chocolate won’t cover it.

The wedding is March 23rd so I have some time to work all of this out.

Yes, I joined a dating site.
No, I had no patience for it.
Yes, I have met a couple of interesting people… only one of which I consider an actual viable option.

Naturally, I can accept that whomever I ask to be my date to this wedding could turn in to something more, but that is not the original goal. It would be a happy side effect.

Because I have all these verify specific goals, I think my word for the year is going to be “Intentional”. That is the only way I can see this working.

I’ve been BRAVE, and it was amazing.

Now that I’m BRAVE, I need to be Intentional.

So, let the dating begin!

Enter Stranger

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Halloween night 2010 was Kaima’s going away party.
To say I was a hot mess would not begin to cover how I was feeling.

I remember plenty from that night, including meeting a rather good-looking individual and being struck dumb by the way he said my name. “Kiki. Wow. That’s an interesting name. It’s nice to meet you, Kiki.” Beyond that, I remember him spending the rest of the evening talking to a brunette. Not that it mattered much, Kaima was leaving and my heart was broken.

As I struggled with the pain of losing him and moving on with my life (Enter A Certain Stubborn Bear), I forgot that moment when a stranger said my name.

Exit A Certain Stubborn Bear.

Enter fresh loss. And pain. Enter being BRAVE. Enter being alone. Enter YOLO.

And one day, while serving at church, Enter Stranger.

He said my name again. We might have talked for all of 5 minutes max, but I was again struck.
This time I went hunting for the Stranger on Facebook. To no avail. He was hidden from me and, apparently, lost forever.

Off and on I would remember to look for him at church, but that was more off than on and he again faded into a dim memory.

And then I decided to be Intentional this year.
And I decided to start dating.
And Facebook decided to send me an email, “Do you know these people?”

And there he was: The Stranger.

I thought about it, and finally decided to send him a message. I asked if he wanted to be friends. I mean, who WOULDN’T want to be friends with ME? However, he had never found me on Facebook and, let’s face it, I’m pretty easy to find so I had to check first.

Of course he wanted to be friends (he’s not an idiot).

 

Timbales Practice

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Two weeks ago I was about ready to give up. I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I would have liked (which is code for almost not at all). Granted, I wasn’t practicing nearly as much as I should have either (which is also code for almost not at all). With the help of some friends being driving inspirational motivators, I accepted that quitting was not in me. But something had to change. So I made up a personal challenge: To practice every day for at least 20 minutes. It wasn’t easy. I had to put off my start day because I got super sick, but that only made me more determined. So my first day of my challenge I practiced my timbales while fighting a splitting headache. Water became my best friend. (Hydration is important!)

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(Yes, that is a frog tattoo. Yes, it is real. No, the one on my arm is just a henna tattoo.) My instructor had written out the first minute of a song for me to learn and I am beyond thrilled to announce that, after just 5 days of practicing, I can hold my own with the song! THAT was the kind of progress I was looking for! Hello, my name is Kikita, and I am a bad ass drummer chick! 😉

YOLO

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You. Only. Live. Once.

It’s a mantra for those of us being BRAVE this year. (And by “us” of course I mean “me”)

I went out for Dim Sum with some people from work, “Kikita, would you like to try chicken feet?”

Bring it.

 

I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to ride on the back of a motorcycle.
I made it happen.
It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

I’ve wanted to have braids in my hair forever. Not corn rows, just braids. I thought I could rock it, but was worried because some white people look REALLY STUPID with them.

There was only one way to find out…

I bought the hair.

I made the appointment.

I sat.

And sat.

And sat.

And then I was done.

I have braids now.

 

My family HATES them. My mother was very diplomatic. She said she loves the braids, she just doesn’t love them on me. My sister, however, said they look horrible on me and she hates the color and I look bad and she proceeded to stomp around.

Most of my man friends love them. A couple asked that I not call them until I take the braids out and go back to being myself.

One idiot went so far as to say, “Why don’t you leave braids to black girls?”

I love them. I love the color of brown. I love how the blue pops and the purple blends. I love how I can tie them in a knot.

I was not ready for how much attention they would bring. It has taken some getting used to. Everywhere I go, eyes are on me. That alone would make me think twice about getting them again. The other reason was just sitting for 8 hours was brutal.

Yes, I can wash them. That was an adventure in itself. I’ve learned that I have quite the sensitive scalp. The moment the water hit the exposed places on my scalp, I got chills. They didn’t stop. It was wild. And DRYING my hair… It’s been two days and my hair is STILL wet. 😉  (Ok, that’s not true, but I swear it took a long time)

If I HAD looked like an idiot (which I don’t think I do), hey, it’s just hair…

Besides, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!!

Getting Hooked Up

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A Cuban musician friend had asked me how my timbales playing was going. I told him about meeting Ramoncito Ramos and that he’d offered to teach me if I didn’t live so far south. My friend proceeded to call over his band mate, a timbales player. He said the guy was a fantastic musician and asked if he would be willing to show me some things. The guy asked who I had been learning from and admitted that I didn’t have the best teacher. He agreed to teach me what he could and gave me his number and told me what days were good for him.

My Friend: Kikita, you know I love you and I just want you to succeed and be happy. You are amazing and I am so glad to know you. Just don’t forget me when you’re famous.

I was speechless. I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the moment.

I had confessed to this friend that I had the beginnings of a crush on one of the newer additions to our group. We are pretty close so I’ve confessed more than just new crushes to this friend. We have real talks about hopes and fears and everything in between. I had mentioned to him on more than one occasion that I was starting to worry about getting older and being nowhere near getting married and having a family. He has two sons that are the light of his life, but he admits that he wishes he wasn’t that far along yet and that I should enjoy my freedom and singlehood.

Later, I was basking in the sound of our little group of friends talking (because, is there anything better than the sound of Cuban men conversating? No, I don’t think so.) when my crush asked how many kids my friend had…

My Friend: I have two boys. They are trouble makers, but amazing and I adore them. What about you? Do you have kids?
My Crush: No, not yet. Hopefully, one day…
My Friend: No? You know, Kikita here doesn’t have any kids either, but she’d make a great mom. You two would have beautiful kids together.

I’m not sure which was worse, that he said it, or that the rest of our circle agreed with him so vocally.

I had no idea my dreams meant so much to my friend.