i grew up with congos as feet and guacharacha for hands. every corner in the city was distinguished by the type of music that was being played. sometimes i wasn’t able to tell over angry cubans and road rage and car honks. the laundromat five minutes away from me played old celia cruz and boleros and the sedanos next to it played joe arroyo nonstop. it was a way to get your mind off of working graveyard shifts at the factories or spending money form those graveyard shifts to feed a family of six or a way to keep you in focus because you haven’t seen your two-year-old daughter in four days because you have to ‘remember that you are doing this para que prrograsamos, es para due progressamos.’
sundays at night, after god had blessed our week, families and family friends would get together for una parrillada in my monopoly game board sized backyard while blasting merengue to dance off the bad spirits while consuming aguardiente until they confused the exiting of bad spirits for throw up. music was a way of coping, a form of unity.
sometimes, i wish i still had the disposables from when people danced the devil off. now, we sit in silence unless the tv is running as background noise. the only time i hear joe arroyo is when mami is passive aggressively cleaning the apartment toilet so she can blur out her ‘these fucking kids do nothing but eat shit’ monologue. i much rather remember mami cleaning the bathroom while listening to joe arroyo rather than mami takes a day in the week to release all her tensions on why her kids never do shit while listening to joe arroyo. it makes me feel better.
that’s how i want to remember it.