Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Through a Sideview Mirror

Michael Sedano


I hop up onto the curb, see the smashed sideview mirror in the gutter nestled amid dried leaves and bougainvillea flecks. I pick up my pace and head downrange when something stops me dead in my tracks. I retrace my steps back to the gutter and the smashed sideview mirror.

This automotive detritus is like the backward glance most gente allow themselves at year’s end. When whole, the mirror gives a clear sharp view, perhaps a reassuring awareness that nothing’s gaining on you. In other settings, the mirror could reflect a charging dinosaur that’s closer than it appears. Either way, the view is useful and one responds to the vision with comprehension, planning, and keeps on truckin’.

But shattered, each shard presents random information taken from its surroundings but possessing little coherence. Each shard a little chunk of reality that is a lot like memories, part of a whole but standing alone.

Maybe it’s just my memory that’s like those shattered chunks of reflection. As I began 2015 I felt sure I would die during surgery scheduled for the seventh day of the year. I spent December privately saying goodbye to friends, doing things “for the last time,” and acting far from my normal self. Like the week before the surgery, I wore a suit jacket and played piano at an art gallery while poet Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin led the audience singing “Cielito Lindo.”

Like the red of my sweater and the black of my camera captured in these shards, fleeting memories of the night come together, of smiling faces, sweet voices, the notes on the sheet music, a facebook foto of me and Mario Trillo all dressed up, smiling at the photographer—this will be the last time I see her--chatting like everything is right with the world. Put up a brave face, aguantar.

Near the center of the mirror, a crenulated shard looks like the UFW eagle. It’s a reminder that memory has the power to inform and shape familiar things from disparate novelty. That’s good; whatever happens, it has to make sense. But there are matters out of personal control, but not uncontrolled.

In the middle of the mirror, for example, a rough circle forms. That is an image of the force that separated this mirror from its mounting post at this exact contact place. It’s predetermined, the confluence of physics, engineering, vacuum molding, and a wild card: crappy driving.

It must have gone down like this.

A shiny Nissan takes the corner too fast. The driver’s bravado and confidence in his skill are out of sync with his or her pot- or booze-slowed reactions.

It’s a narrow two-lane side street where a car approaches, slowing to let the shiny Nissan get out of the way. The driver stiffens and his wife thrusts an arm to the dashboard, a foot onto the firewall as if slamming the brakes, screaming “look out!”

The Nissan’s sideview mirror smashes into the other car’s sideview mirror with a loud thud and quiet tinkle of fracturing tempered glass. The impact shatters the glass mirror into a mosaic of shiny popcorn. The industrial adhesive holds most of the glass to its backing plate. The impact fractures the cylindrical mounting post at the narrowest part. The backing plate and mirror break away and clatter to the street. The Nissan speeds away, the mirror post hanging from the door.

The victim stares at the empty street, exits the vehicle to inspect the damage. Angrily he kicks the mirror lying in the middle of the empty road. The kick sends the mirror skidding under the man’s car to clatter against the far curb as the man silently mouths “Gol!” He gets back inside his car, puts it in gear, and continues on his way. His wife laments they should have stayed at the party a little longer.

There are lots of things I could have done differently, and lots of things I remember only haphazardly like those shards of mirror. All in all, it was a good year. I stare at the crunched glass and smile, noting that even in the region of hardest impact, and moving outward and upward, the reflections are open sky and light.

Make 2016 the best year ever, gente. As you look back through the shattered mirror that is memory, find the good pieces and let them tell good stories. You deserve them.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything Em.


- Vincent

Melinda Palacio said...

Beautiful. Why I love being part of La Bloga.

Manuel Ramos said...

Excellent, viejo. And you deserve the best - happy 2016.

GREGG STONE said...

I learn SO MUCH from you Michael.....everything you say or do is so poetic. Even the broken Nissan back mirror is so poetic. Thank you.

sramosobriant said...

Felt and saw every moment with you in this piece, Em. Adios, 2015!

Concepcion said...

That shattered mirror was a story waiting (to channel Melinda Palacio). Michael, your reflections son un tesoro.

Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

I loved reading this. Thanks for the reflections and glad que aún sigues post hospital detours and surgeries. A seguir disfrutando, escribiendo, and doing the unexpected like playing piano to Cielito Lindo.