To My Daughter on the Eve of Our First Trip Together to New York City

Photogrph by Jose Padua
As you know by now I spent a lot of time there
drunk in smoky dive bars. There were too many
of them on the way to the museums, bookstores,
record shops, movies, plays, work, or my apartment
and if I didn’t hit the bars on the way there I hit them
on the way back and sometimes both on the way
there and on the way back because life was beautiful
like that then though less so than it is now. Which
isn’t to say that there isn’t still war and catastrophe
in the world nowadays, because of course there still
is and maybe there’s even more, and this isn’t to say
that as you grow older you won’t be thinking often
of these things, because you will and you’ll most
likely be thinking of them more often than those
who only think of what they can buy and what
they can do for fun, which isn’t to say that you’ll
never buy anything or think about what you can
do for fun because you will. But what you buy
and what you do for fun won’t be the only things
you think about and they won’t be the only things
you work for when you work. And though I hope
you never reach the frequency and levels of
intoxication I once did, I do wish you to know
the joys of intoxication, but especially the
intoxication of remembering, not forgetting,
and the joy of those intricate and difficult thoughts
that float through imagined space like specks
of dust in a sliver of sunlight that pokes through
the dark air of a dive bar at happy hour. And as
for the reason why the world is more beautiful
today than it was then, it’s because you are here
to add to it and not take away from it, like the
dream that was waiting to be dreamt in the back
of my mind in those drunk days before your
mother and I ever met. Before we started dreaming
together, waking each morning with new lines,
new stories, and new images that grew and grew
like better worlds shaped with great style but
simple grace; then like this, the expanding universe,
and you, they learned to change shape on their own.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua


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