Author: Lena Solis-Aguilera

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I met Padrino in a dream before I met him in person. I dreamt about a man with a horsetail whisk, dancing and waving it around his head. He was dressed in white. I told Costello, my boyfriend, about my dream. “That’s my padrino,” he said. His godfather. He wasn’t just Costello’s padrino; he was his surrogate father. After leaving the City (and Costello) in 1989, returning home to Southern California, crossing the Bay Bridge from Alameda County to San Francisco for a visit with Padrino was thrilling. I loved S.F. Our first stop was Padrino’s flat on 23rd and Guerrero, just west of Mission Street. He was a fixture in the neighborhood. Every day he sat in the window facing Guerrero Street waving at the passersby. We’d usually be lucky enough to park on Guerrero Street and from the window Padrino would get his first glimpse of Alex, his pedacito de oro, piece of gold. In his flat, Cuban food was always cooking: black beans, white rice, yucca, fried plantain, and meat dishes like …

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I knew something was wrong before we left. Eduardo and I were planning a Vegas getaway. Alex would remain at home. I told him before I left, “I don’t know what you are up to… but you are up to something, and I will find out!” At one time, I had trusted Alex to stay home, do the chores, and take care of the dog. I still wanted to trust him, but I couldn’t. This weekend away was important to me. I made it all right knowing that his Tío Oscar and his cousins were next door. It was winter in Vegas and our first time away as a couple. But that Saturday night in our hotel room, I don’t know if I was dreaming or what, but suddenly I sat up and realized that something else was stolen. A week before, looking for a particular ring to wear, I discovered that it and other pieces were was missing. That “something else” happened to be two pairs of earrings; a pair my sister had given …