Wishes for Sweeping Romance
Dear Derek and Jane,
On this luminous day of your marriage I wish you the sweeping romance, the crushed seeds and pulpy mess of love, that bound my mother, Bonita de Flores Perdes, and my father, Carlos de Cervantes Garcia. Derek (though it would be easier to impart the message of my parents’ tale upon you if your name were more exotic, like Jean-Pierre or Dmitry Alexandrovich or even Lord something-or-other), I wish that Jane (who, let’s face it, would make the writing of these wishes easier by adopting a name like Ekaterina or Grace or Florence) inspires in you the burning desire my father, Carlos de Cervantes Garcia, found in my mother, Bonita de Flores Perdes. And now, I would like to share their tale with you so that you may understand what true love is.
When my father was twenty-two, he served as a deckhand on a cargo ship, usually full of passion fruit and bananas, that travelled down the west coast of South America. In one of the port towns, Santa Clara, my father was leaving a bar at sunrise when he spotted the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
She was sweeping the steps of a fabric shop. What is your name? he called out to her. Bonita de Flores Perdes, she spoke back. The name echoed across the cobblestones of the empty streets. Then he called out, and I am Carlos de Cervantes Garcia, remember me. When his ship pulled out of the harbour that evening, he wrote in his diary: Without my little flower, the earth is but a cold glass sphere. Though he sailed along that coast for three years, all the way to the southern tip of Chile and all the way north to San Diego, and visited a brothel in every port, whenever he went to sleep, on the wind that blew in from the sea, he could hear the name Bonita, Bonita. And in storms, when the waves slapped down onto themselves or onto particularly jagged rocks, in the echo of water crashing over itself, he could hear de Flores Perdes, de Flores Perdes.
One Christmas day, off the coast of Mexico, his ship was attacked: a gang of pirates stormed the deck and held the crew hostage with muskets and swords and clubs. Then the wind picked up and the name Bonita filled my father’s ears and that name brought to my father’s hands the force to throw a barrel full of salted sardines at his eye-patched captors.
The pirates who were not crushed by the barrel fled on their own accord, for they had seen, in both my father’s eyes, the fire of a man in love. Bonita, Bonita was all my father heard when the pirates were gone and the wind caressed his cheeks.
And so, Derek and Jane, it was one day, when my father came to believe he would never again see his love, and that the woman who burned in his heart and whose name rang in his ears was forever lost to him, that my father’s ship was caught in a wicked storm. The wind and the waves, together, synchronized, called out, Bonita, de Flores Perdes, Bonita, de Flores Perdes. My father ran to the captain to say his guardian angel, Bonita de Flores Perdes, was calling to him and saying the ship should be steered toward port, not starboard as the captain and his men had thought, for the ship had become turned around and all the ship’s men confused, and it was the light in my father’s eyes, the light of a man in love with a woman that could only be named Bonita de Flores Perdes, that convinced the captain to listen to my father. When the captain turned the ship, in no time they found their way out of the storm and soon spotted a lighthouse and lumbered into a little port town.
The port was the same Santa Clara that my father had visited three years before, and my mother, Bonita de Flores Perdes, was waiting in the wharf, for she’d had an ominous feeling that night and could not sleep, and so, when the ship pulled in, it was my mother who greeted my father. When, finally, they held each other on that wharf, under the full pregnant moon, the dazzling stars, the salted sea wind whispering Bonita, Bonita, my mother said to my father, I had not forgotten you, it is you who burns in my heart, I hear your name on the wind and in the waves, I have waited for you since that night you called out to me those years ago, I have waited for you, Carlos de Cervantes Garcia.
I wish to you, Derek and Jane, that you too are swept away in such a romance, this epic drama the gods call love.
Your dear friend,
Pablo Garcia is a man who has traveled the world but still considers himself far away from home while staring at his navel.