Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am returning; I am here

Today I went to the beach and while taking pictures of the beautiful scenery I decided to turn the camera on myself. I took a picture without my shirt on, and when I got home to view it on the computer I realized that my near 50-pound weight loss (from the original 417 pounds I started at last year) is becoming more and more evident. But I'm starting to sag where there once was filled-out fluff, so I decided to hit the gym this evening, where I did chest, shoulder and arm exercises before going 16 minutes on the inclined treadmill.

Afterward I was feeling great. I stopped at a convenience store nearby to get a bottle of water, and when I came out and got into the car a familiar song came on the radio. It was a female voice singing a song I'd known to be written and sung by the Spanish singer, Miguel Bosé, back when I first was living in Miami Beach in the mid-1990s. The song is called "Si tu no vuelves", which means "If you don't return". As I listened for a bit I realized the voice was Shakira's. And the words she sang proved to be just as impactful and moving to me now as they were when Bosé sang them nearly 15 years ago. But in a different way.

The song as I remember it was sung by just a single male voice the entire way through. It was a song about losing the one you love and longing for their return. The first words of the song are "If you don't return, all the seas will dry up, and I will wait without you, buried in the depths of some memory".

At the time, Humberto, my lover of just a few months, had gone home to Chile to visit family, and upon flying back a week later he was not allowed to re-enter the country due to outstanding immigration issues. This was the man who had taught me how to love, even though he, at the time, spoke no English, and I still spoke no Spanish. It was through loving that I was able to learn the language, and without him the words of the song, and the memory of him, resonated with me for many months and years to come.

But tonight, as I listened to Bosé's voice blend with Shakira's in an unexpected duet, it was like the song took a different meaning altogether. This time it became internal, as if one voice were the "me" of today, and the other, the part of the lost lover in the original song, was my broken-hearted younger self. Even more, I felt one voice was the obese, years-worn older me of a month ago and the other was my vibrant, youthful and energetic self that had somehow been broken over the years and become lost, or perhaps encapsulated within.

The me of today I feel is neither of those two. Instead, as I lose weight I am becoming the connector linking the two of them. Before now I was either the fit 220 pound man or the overweight 400 pounder. The person that gained 200 pounds over the course of a decade had been lost somewhere in the middle. But as I listened to this new but old song, as I sat there in a dark parking lot alone, I felt a release of pressure deep within my gut as I somehow realized that these individuals were one in the same, and the man in between had never been lost at all.

I wept tears of joy for having re-discovered myself. There I was singing this song to my long-lost self in hopes that he would return, but then I realized he was never gone, just hiding. And I suddenly knew that I was and will be that same man even as I shed every single pound on the path reaching my ultimate weight loss goal.

Unless you've ever put on 200 pounds without even realizing you were doing it, and then, without even looking for it, you finally found the key to taking that weight back off, this blog must sound like nothing more than schizophrenic ramblings. But to me this night feels like salvation.

Here's a YouTube video featuring the original song. A translation of the lyrics follows:

Si tu no vuelves (If you don't return)
Words and Music by Miguel Bosé
Translated by Brian Schwarz

If you don't return
all the seas will dry up
and I will wait without you
buried in the depths of some memory

If you don't return
My will will be diminished
I will remain here
alongside my dog fixated on horizons

If you don't return
only deserts will remain
and I will listen in case
some beat remains in this earth

It was so serene
when you loved me
I breathed a fresh perfume
it was so lovely, it was so big
it had no end

And each night a star would come
and keep me company
may it tell you how I am
and you may know what there is

Tell me my love, my love, my love
I'm here. Can't you see?
If you don't return life will end
I don't know what I will do

If you don't return
there will be no hope, there will be nothing
I will walk without you
with my sadness drinking rain

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