Rose is driving and we’re high-tailing it to find our estranged muse and friend, Luna De Los Santos. Miles Davis is on the radio and his trumpet conjures up Luna’s voice gently warning the radio audience of the Texas sun and the need for plenty of agua. “Please, beautiful people, don’t forget the plants.
Back when I was new in Texas, my only friends were the two faceless women on 92.2 FM, Rose and Luna. Every Saturday I got my fix of the “Women’s Collective News.” The day I heard Luna read from Frida Kahlo’s biography with a pain so deep inside her, I knew I was in the sphere of a medium who could link two worlds at once.
A week later I was humbled by the opportunity to step into the domain of the women whose feathery voices were my church. They announced the need for another producer: no experience necessary. I was home. The day I showed up I told them about my Mexican high school students who wrote long flowery poesia to their boyfriends, girlfriends or mothers. The kids would belong. But did I? I had come directly from Spain, the oppressor country and I still wore those good leather clothes that I bought there during my two-year teaching stint at an American school.
They would soon figure out that I was techno-phobic and could be extremely ordinary. Growing up in New Orleans didn’t prepare me for anything like this. But Rose, our blue-haired expert, trained me to deliver the news in my finest mimicry of herself.
At fundraising meetings, Luna charmed everyone when she read the tarot for WHAT’s future. “We’re gonna make good money,” she said flirtatiously, looking up from her cards while everyone else was bogged down in strategy. If some didn’t buy into Luna’s magic, they should have. She was an aging hippy but her body was lithe and her beauty, haunting. You have to believe in something. Why not in the power of those deep set eyes and long henna locks? Why not in her innocence? I did. Luna also told the truth, no matter what. When I was video taping her one afternoon, she said, “My stereo broke. My tooth fell out and I’m having a hot flash.” I have it on record.
I was Luna’s biggest fan but was blinded by my obsession to possess her or something inside her so I stalked her with my video camera. “You’re so “pesada,” she’d say, but I didn’t care about being “annoying.” I needed to document her–to make her immortal. Her voice on the radio wasn’t enough. Working beside her wasn’t enough. Even frequenting her electrifying parties–where I was the only non-Latina and where her punctured heart paintings covered the walls–wasn’t enough. Perhaps I sensed that her ephemeral spirit would someday evaporate like a genie, so I attempted to bottle her into a reluctant icon.
Two years after I became a producer, the station began to self-destruct. Everyone took opposing sides amongst the detritus of the bombed-out morale although no one remembers the issue anymore–something about personalities, I think.
The station had lived its ninth life and Luna became a recluse. The city’s progressive weekly paper didn’t help. They reported that she had screamed all the way out the door when she left a station meeting. This is when she stopped answering her phone and blocking her e-mails, even from her companeras. Finally, we stopped trying.
Rose reported the hearsay of Luna sightings all around town–at the park, at a theater, at a NOW march and the possibility of her dating an organic farmer. Finally, three years passed since we’d actually seen her and she’d begun seeping into our dreams.
Our imagination of Luna burst forth this summer night, so we journey to find her. Did she really put her head on my stomach and say she could see the heaven inside me?
Forty minutes later, we try exiting the interstate for her neighborhood but there’s a barricade preventing our entrance. Rose tries routing us another way and gets lost. By then, she has to pick up her man from the university and we’re out of time. It’s clear: Luna was redirecting our path away from her terrain.
Rose is never one to sulk and immediately
points you to the more wondrous horizon. “This can be an annual trip, like a pilgrimage,” she says. She knows me well and quickly puts some Dixieland music on the cassette deck. We start bopping up and down in the bucket seats, never quite feeling the disappointment you might expect. There, in the sprawl of traffic, we celebrate Luna’s spirit as it possesses us. It’s like a jazz funeral when the loved one is traveling to paradise and you are a vehicle for that blessed transcendence.
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