Coolest day of my life. (A handshake, a building, and the ATM machine.)


Ahem, as a side note.. the ATM machine is mentioned only in passing and is so very insignificant and meaningless in regards to this story.. but nevertheless, I included it in the title because, well, I just like the ‘ring of it’ 🙂 -AA

*****/ ** *********

Beautiful day;
a pocket of light and a wad of darkness –
compact, precise,
consistent and unerring.

24 hours.

Promise.. potential..

people, places, things

Ideas, beliefs, and feelings

Humor and anger

Smiles and kisses

Leisure and strain.

This is everything I’ve ever know

wanted to be

or been.


And so, Jan and I were out running errands this afternoon. We had informed our advisor that there were some things we needed to do and she had agreed that it was okay if we returned after 2 o clock (the time when we usually begin our “working” portion of the day: Jan and I’s duty – cooking. Always). I stopped the car near the “fresh-spring-water” spicket and filled up the same jug I’ve been using for the past two weeks and my 24-ounce, blue water bottle (courtesy of Jan’s dad: Ricardo). Afterwards we struggled against the whims of Garmin who simply insisted that an ATM-offering bank was but 7 minutes down the road.. we gave in, let her “call the shots” and it turned out that the establishment was out of business. The sign read, specifically, in plainnn English – “permanently closed down.” Wtg, Garmin.

However, it was a beautiful detour, mistake – what have you.. because there was an AWESOME mural of a railroad station right across the parking lot, along the walls of whatever business thrived and operated next door. I had Jan stand in various places, in many positions, and enjoyed taking pictures of the wall and her.. capturing the day, the moment.. the person, the thing.. in a place, together..

And yes, we also stopped by a kosher, Jewish supermarket. Looked around, listened to the foreign music composed of words and sounds we couldn’t understand or fully “get.”  It was interesting, if nothing else! I love being exposed to what is, to me, ODDITY.  New.  Different, and.. ah, it’s just so refreshing.  Wakes me up, and reminds me that there is much to live for – there are so many reasons to keep breathing.. and even if there was only one, it would be worth it: and I speak of, learning.  Learning, learning, learning.. and I’m talking about more from EXPERIENCE than books.  Though both are nice and appreciated.

Anyways, the highlight of my day – perhaps, the trip so far.. (is this; keep reading)

As we drove home, I saw, on the left-hand side of the road, a beautiful, beautiful site. And so, braking and signaling quickly, I pulled off onto the rough concrete and Jan just sat there, in the passenger seat, defeated. I had already turned, put the car in park and pulled out the keys; she was going to have to indulge me for just afew moments.

Turned out that we were there for awhile.

Well see, the building, I later discovered, had been an ANIMAL feed factory. It burned down last year, no injuries, no deaths. About 200 feet across the parking lot was a large, yellow building. So I’ll rewind here.

I got out of the car and approached the scene with a huge, brilliant smile on my face. I was so pleased; I was so proud.. THIS was going to make a beautiful picture, I thought to myself. And so, with the camera already set on “black and white,” I began snapping away.. but my appetite, was insatiable; I needed to get closer, lower, deeper, fuller, nearer..

and so, with Jan standing at the top, looking down, trying to convince me to NOT climb down the steep and rocky hill in my long, jean skirt, down I went.. closer to my “love at first sight,” nearer the voice that beckoned me draw nigh, that pulled at me like a magnet — and I was drawn like the moon at sunset, slowly finding my way


And so yes, I began taking beautiful pictures and was, essentially, “having the time of my life.” Then a voice startled me, as my eye was held to the lens and I was leaning over slightly. I looked up quickly and started to process that he was approaching me, he was a man, Jan and I were out of sight, tucked away in the “ghetto woods” and this could potentially be dangerous. “If he becomes violent, I run this way.. if he says anything funny, I act crazed and scare him off..” thoughts like these ran through my head, ran I say, although it all registered very slowly.. I was abit taken back and couldn’t fully grasp what “living in this moment” meant.  But I was so.. not scared.  I was very confident, very calm.  I just waited for him to get close enough for me to hear and I then prompted him, softly, to repeat what he had exclaimed at a distance.

Anyways, so yes. He demanded that I tell him why I was there, and with a CAMERA! I explained that I enjoyed photography — that I was a photographer (non-professional, but of COURSE) — and that I especially enjoyed taking pictures of what I term, ‘old, broken beauty’.. beauty that either once was or never could have been – and never will be. He seemed abit skeptical and, puzzled, at this reply.. most likely assumed I was some kind of JOURNALIST exploiting Jews and the.. wow, I don’t know, building. Anyways, he escorted me off of the leveled cement, down open stairs, to ground level.. and as I peered up at the black and grey, forgotten, neglected and forlorn MESS I just hadddd to ask, despite all of the tension, “would you mind if I took a couple of pictures from right here?” (One of his major concerns was that this was “private property” and that he could be held responsible – sued – were anything to happen to me).. he assented to this and walked away, still seeming disoriented and abit irritated, reminding me in firm tone that I was in no case to get anywhere near the mountain.

You’ve got it, dude.

So I took more pictures. Lots. Tried to achieve getting the angle I was looking to find within the limited moving space I had to choose from. I didn’t like being so far away (I mean, at this distance, I couldn’t just walk up and touch the melted portion of the wall)

I felt.. like I had just introduced myself to a new world, a whole new PLANET, where I felt more at home.. more ALIVE.. than on the old, the normal, the lifeless dirtball. The dark, empty, greedy void that just robs us of energy, hope, dreams, time, .. and eventually,


Yes, I was glad to escape, for justtt alittle while.

After a couple of minutes, Jan disappeared. I repeatedly called her name, but to no avail. Found out after reading a text later on that she had returned to the car. As I walked around, investigating, exploring, enjoying, I happened to glance over to my left, towards the YELLOW BUILDING that I mentioned earlier. Yes, well, I saw a middle-aged woman just staring at me from the second floor. I waved energetically and smiled congenially.. and hesitantly, weakly, she returned the wave. Just afew moments later a Jewish man walked up to where I was and inquired (might I say somewhat aggressively, although muted – his dissatisfaction, evident), “WHY are you taking pictures?” I then proceeded to explain myself to him, as I had to the other, and he seemed satisfied. I then asked, as time was quickly passing, how I might get out of the parking lot, since I wasn’t allowed to climb up the mountain (where I had come from; ok, so it wasn’t a mountain, more like a hill – but a treacherous one, apparently, for the first Jewish man to refuse my going back the same way). He stated indifferently that I could just walk around and pointed quickly to the left.. and with that, he left.  So, I thanked him and began walking out. As I did, I was abit nervous. I had heard loud voices on a shady property just a couple hundred feet towards the left, down the street. However, I prayed – maybe only in my heart, not mind – and trusted that God would give me safe passage. As I was wandering down a road I thought and hoped would lead to the MAIN road, I heard a car approaching behind me. I thought to myself, “please.. please, just, keep driving.. don’t slow down and freak me out. I don’t want to over-react and run and make you feel like a terrible person but I also don’t want to play it cool and end up either buried alive or dead and packaged in a Hefty, black trashbag.” The car DID slow down, of course (and I say this in good humor, not cynically).. and what do you know!: the window rolled down, and I saw, a Jewish man.

BIG surprise!

This was the 3rd. To shorten the story.. because it’s already gone on for so long and you must be growing weary of this “black, white and boring”.. he wanted (to see the pictures on my camera) and assurance that I wasn’t photographing the YELLOW building (although, in retrospect, what would they have to hide? what would have been the big deal?). I assured him I just enjoyed, photography! And that I had only captured the grey/ black and burnt structure. I showed him the pictures I had taken earlier that day, of my ‘friend Jan’ standing by the railroad mural and some gazebo shots. He seemed satisfied and abit tickled that I was so attracted to the big, black “mess” in the backyard of the yellow building. He continued to question me, which made me slightly uncomfortable but, I was fine with it. He asked questions such as, “what are you doing here in NY? what part of FL do you live in? do you have a boyfriend? are you Jewish?” and I answered them politely, cheerfully.. stating that I was visiting for the summer, taking Bible classes and letting the Lord lead and guide my life, that yes I had a boyfriend and that no, I wasn’t Jewish. At last, at the end of our conversation, when he seemed perfectly satisfied and reassured, I inquired HOW I could get back onto the main road.

He told me to get in the car and he would drive me there himself.

Now, kids, don’t “try this at home.” I know that Sierra has always said NOT to get into the car with strangers and it was probably, kind of stupid. But, I was like this: 1. He’s Jewish. 2. I’ve been talking to him for a whole 10 minutes so, we’re buddies. 3. I don’t know HOW on earth I’m going to get out of here and 4. He’s.. Jewish.

So yes, I got into his vehicle and conversed abit more during the few minutes it took to get back to the car and Jan. Now, I questioned him. “So you’re Jewish?” I offered. He said yes, in a tone of surprise.. kind of like “duh.” “What do you believe? What are Jews like?” He explained that they kept THE Sabbath, feast days, and are “reserved.” I found it interesting that he would include that as one of the main points of his faith; being reserved. They definitely are. Jews keep to themselves, because that’s how they feel safe, stay special, and remain in the favor of God.

And how do I know that?

Well, when I wave to Jews, they sometimes look at me for a second, an instant, offer the slightest GLANCE and then look away. Either that or they wave back apprehensively.. or they just ignore me entirely. They drive by and I feel their stare, burning holes into my face. I sense their disdain, their disapproval, their condemnation.. their feeling of superiority.

However, this man, Moses, was nice (as I’m sure many-most Jews are; they’re just, super-private, and totally better than me). I enjoyed his company and his conversation! In our last few seconds together was when I inquired of his name and shared mine with him. I introduced myself to him as Rose. 

I was just about to open the car to get out and in saying goodbye, I stuck out my hand. He said “that’s ok” and motioned my hand away. It made me smile so big and I said “Good day, God bless you!”

He wouldn’t even shake my hand. 🙂 How.. amazing.

Today was one of the coolest days, ever.

God, thank you.

I love this life.

-Aun Aqui

(poetry from the other day; original and awful and.. incomplete, uncompleted – whatever)
music notes
vibrate off these walls
and if we’re outside “in the open”

they dont move at all

they’re carried by the wind

down to wherever you are

they seek out and find you

because you’re at the center

of their heart.

and so the trees pay their homage

standing still, erect, and tall

and the trees give their greatest blessing

because they’ve committed their souls

(to bringing this smile to your face

and stopping these tears in your eyes

from making their way to the floor

or from bleeding their way to the sky.)

the heart you have now will be altered

and the wellspring itself shall be changed

from giving off dark, fluorescent lights

to a black that

dims and fades.

to a hurtful and bleeding


to a bloody and beautiful


to a night of fame


and blame.

it gives, and then takes everything back.

and it all hurts, just the same.

because you never left

the grave

they threw you in

covered you with dirt

you layed there, still as stone,

played along and went


because all alone,

you finally realized

that nobody cried a tear

the day when you closed your eyes

the day when they took your life

the day when you held your breath

and felt a rush of madness inside

turned out the lights

and let the skin just fly

took the blade

grasped the knife

shivered alittle and cried and cried

and died. ~

And because you don’t know me, you assume..
and since I’m a phony –
I refuse,
to let any one see, or believe, or hear, or need

Although I want it, so badly, so much.
Although I need it..
I fight hard so hard against

~ Brick and glass,

and I’m putting on an act.
Trying hard to master it –
really trying to believe in it.
~We just wish life away sometimes.
And yet our hate is so superficial;
our depression so weak –
because when it comes to the dying point,
all we want to do is breathe.

The volume is there, but the melody, is lacking.

~Our dreams are suspended
as we are.
Our hope is in fragments
and they’re scattered.

And we neglect things because we do not realize their value.

~And somebody dreamt here..
and some dreams died here..
and now, their memory reappears

and their being is so clear!

Am I the only one who sees?


(for, mom)

I see beyond your eyes;


It pains my heart and I cry –

I wish you could believe..

that your soul is so worth saving,

your smile is beautiful, to me

and the whole wide world is waiting –

for you to see, what they see.

a beautiful, wonderful gem

a priceless treasure, indeed

please value yourself

please believe in yourself


be free.

because i see how you’re suffering.

listen, to me..

i hate where this is going

there are depths to you

that i can see

and they stop at a point

because you’re never good at knowing

just what about you

is right.

-Aun Aqui


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Personal stories, lengthy rants, and lighthearted explosions of optimism, all neatly bundled into one blog.

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