Friday, June 29

Dear Jim,

It’s a hot morning in Sacto. I’m writing to you at my favorite coffee shop where I’ve written to you so many times in the last year.

I need the place. I’m lucky it’s here for me to regroup, or to smile on the world when I’m inspired.

That’s the way I feel about you. You were there when I was down. You were proud of me when I was up.

A guy just sat down at my table. He has an 8” x 5” x 11” bible. We looked at each other. I said hi. He didn’t. I’m sure he feels he is on a spiritual path.

I’m trying to be on one, to be the passionate truth seeker I was as a kid, to be born again, this time without arrogance.

So I’ve sought you with these letters. I needed you to help me make changes I ache to make, to feel great before I die.

It’s been an incredible year. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t written to you.

I’m scared. Next year I have to make it on my own. If I become great, you won’t be here to laugh with as we sit on the lawn in the back of Sis I’s breathing the country air.

It will be sad for me. It will be sadder for you. You always admired me – your younger brother with unforgettable passion.

There’s lots of regrets. With all our pain, I wish I had prayed for you, for us, for me.


Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, April 20

Dear Jim,

I’m sitting outside at the coffee shop I always wrote to you from last year. Now with nice days like today, I will be coming here more.

I wonder if you would have gone to coffee shops to study theology and read poetry? I wonder if we would have met at any to philosophize?

If we did, I don’t know what you would order. You would probably get bottled water or juice. You would sit on the sunny side of the table with your visor and lotion on your nose. I would sit on the shady side wearing my ski cap and having a hot chocolate.

Neither of us wore sunglasses when we were young, but you would probably be wearing them now like I do. When I picture you in sunglasses, it doesn’t seem right. They would cover your longing eyes.

We both criticized people in sunglasses because we thought they were trying to be cool. Now I look like the people I never liked.

Coffee shops are one of the changes of the last forty years that I approve of. I definitely take advantage of them.

Usually when I come here I read the paper, then comment to you about an article. Today there was a real short one. 500 Central American immigrants are fleeing their country to come here. They are taking a freight train from Guadalajara to the United States. It didn’t say where they would end up.

It’s incredible how many people try to escape from Central America or leave Mexico to come here. They hop freight trains, but there are no open box cars or empty flat cars like when you used to ride or I used to ride.

People sit on running boards. They get knocked off by branches. They fall when they lose their balance or miss a rung.

When they leave the train they get beaten and robbed by gangs. Girls get raped. The police beat them too, then send them back to Central America.

I’m listening to an audio book in Spanish about a Honduran boy who left home to come to America to find his mother. He rode the freight train but got caught and sent back to Honduras six times. On the seventh try he made it to the U. S.

I’ve always loved the romance of America’s freight trains. I loved the freedom they gave me. But there is nothing romantic about ten or more people sitting on a running board in the sun, wind, and rain becoming ill and not having anywhere to pee or poop.

The people who survive and make it to the U. S. probably have great memories of beautiful scenery and peaceful starry nights like I do, but they were looking to become politically and economically free, while I wanted to see the country and avoid working at a soul killing job.

It’s terrifying that kids leave Central America to escape gangs, then get beaten in Mexico by Mexican gangs and Mexican police, then worry about getting arrested when they cross the border into America. I wonder what it feels like to be scared shitless all the time, then end up in this soulless country of ours? ”I went through all that for this?”

I miss you Jim. I wish you were here to take a trip with. We could go to Hungary, Prague, Poland, Russia looking for something real, looking for our roots.

I don’t know what we would find. Maybe somewhere in Russia there is still the great Russian soul.

That’s it for now.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko