I met my husband Picasso in a renovated church that became a club called Limelight in New York City. It was April of 1999, and I was married to another man at the time.
Shhh-that’s a secret.
A friend had come to visit from over a long weekend. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside to reveal to you what is happening in the inside of your marriage, you know? After months of knowing in my head that my marriage was over, my heart took it in. And my friend and I and I decided to go out dancing.
Picasso was by himself at the club, leaning against a railing on the second floor. I’d been drinking beer steadily all night, and I felt brave. I ran up the stairs, crashed sideways into R and said, “What’s an attractive man like you doing by yourself in a place like this?”
We talked all night in this club, about things like God, art, our grandparents, the music thumping in the background.
While Picasso spoke well in English, I noticed an accent that sounded like my mother’s. “Are you Mexican?” I asked? And he said yes. I’d never dated a Mexican before. Internalized oppression will do that to you. Don’t know what that is? Look it up, kids-I’m telling a story here.
A few months after that night in the club, April of ‘99 Picasso and I were living together in a little room that he rented on East 26th Street in Manhattan.
I’ve been to the city three times in the past two weeks that I’ve been in the States. And each time, I have to swallow angry tears.
After all this time, I still can’t believe that Picasso’s not holding my hand as I walk in the city, my city. I cannot even name the streets, the specific places, because in the naming of them, I’m naming his absence in this city that was our city.
A few months ago, Picasso discovered Google maps. And through that program, he likes to walk down the streets that he used to breathe in, used to feel under his fingertips.
I can’t sit with him when he does Google maps. It always makes me cry.
He’s not dead, but he’s denied.