WITH ABOUT 85 percent of one’s life lived, it’s easy to focus more on the past than the future. I tend to do this especially at 5:30 in the morning.
Two periods in my life stand out as being particularly tasty. During both I was living in the Latin world, and during both I was living with Latin women. I married the second, but not the first though I considered it.
I drank a lot.
The second, of course, is my current, third and final wife who is Mexican and was a civil engineer. The first was Argentine and was a hooker. I rescued her from a life of sin. She found work as a legitimate waitress, and we cohabited in a penthouse atop a five-story apartment building overlooking the sea in Old San Juan in the early 1970s.
Readers who’ve hung around here for a spell have heard all this before — do forgive — but the focus today is the top photo, which I do not think I’ve posted previously. I could be mistaken, but no matter.
I have the memory of a tree trunk.
I do not recall who snapped the top photo. We rarely had visitors there on the roof. There was no elevator up the five floors and the stairwell risers were not uniform, making it an arduous ascent.
We tended to go out no more than twice a day. Once was to go to work — mine at the newspaper and hers at the restaurant, both night jobs — and then there was the second descent for whatever, groceries, lunch.
The likely photographer was Luis Muñoz Lee, a good friend and the son of Luis Muñoz Marín, the “George Washington” of modern Puerto Rico. Muñoz Lee was an artist and he also worked with me on the newspaper out on the John F. Kennedy Highway.
Luis, like me, was quite taken with the Argentine who was not your typical ex-hooker. She was very bright and incredibly rebellious.
She was just 20, and we fussed a lot.
In the top photo, the door to the left was the entrance from the stairwell. The door I’m leaning against, wearing my knockout bell bottoms, was the living room door. I was just inside that same door facing the opposite direction in daylight when I snapped the photo below.
Things come back to you at 5:30 a.m. If you’re lucky, you have photos.
And if you’re really lucky, you have people who will listen to you ramble on about them 40 years later.