Now that I think of it, there was something that triggered the long process. We call that process “my life” or “who I am” and there is always something buried deep in our past, a simple thing like “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane.

“Rosebud” is the last word spoken by  Charles Kane before dying. It is a long movie but we get to know the meaning of  that name towards the end of the story. “Rosebud” is a toy that the child Kane loved, a sled that seems to represent the last time when the man Kane was truly happy.

As we get old we learn that we can hold less and less things. Yours truly for instance, is beginning to think of deserving young persons who could receive some of his treasures: a guitar, some special books, a Crucifix, etc. My fingers have lost a good percentage of their agility. I used to be able to produce a perfect tremolo but now, to be sincere, it leaves much to be desired. I began to think along this line when I saw Les Paul play as an old man. One can tell when blood and tendons are playing and also when experience is playing. Well, I am more experienced now and I choose my licks more intelligently than I choose my battles.

Recently, for reasons that only God knows, memories are coming to the surface, long forgotten little pieces dormant for almost seven decades. One of them is a set of letter cubes I found for the first time inside a box under a Christmas tree a few weeks after my fourth birthday. A year or two later I remember seeing my mother signing a receipt for a humongous box delivered to our home by a green and yellow truck. It was actually a wooden crate and I can still recall it smelled of pine. Out of it came several dozen books with green cover. By then I had learned to read simple words using the cubes. I read the word “Peuser” on the crate. It was a short enough word for me to read but I did not know what it meant.

A bookcase was built or purchased and it began filling with volumes. There was my little Bible (which I still have) and novels by A. J. Cronin that my mother read. Two or three big collections of novels by classic and modern authors completed the library. By age 10 I have read them all. Some were adequate for a ten year-old, others were definitely not. I use to read them when my parents were not home, so none was the wiser. In any case, if there was anything dirty in those books, the meaning flew right over my head. I was only having fun decoding the words. Lack of television and those long Patagonia afternoons conspired to make me read —very methodically— the whole library. I do not remember what I understood of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary or Tolstoy’s Resurrection but when I re-read them as an adult some vague memories of the argument came back as I read.

That box with letter cubes was a magic artifact that initiated me in the art of decoding. Life became a palimpsest of things read at home and at school. The box of cubes and that old home collection of disparate books became my “Rosebud”.