This is Cruz.
His name means "Cross" in Spanish.
When Cruz told me his name I thought he was putting me on because I was wearing a Santa Cruz skateboard shirt when I walked into the guitar shop he has been working for a little over a year. He is the gentle reminder of why I need to get out more often. I love that guitar shop, and even though it's right around the corner from my house I have somehow forgotten to venture over in a while.
I’ll admit I went there directly not to buy something but because the smoke for the nearby fires is so thick there is literally no one on the streets. I figured the guitar shop had at least one more than no one, and because it was getting hard to breath, I was more than happy to add to the number.
However, I did learn that Cruz moved from a small desert town in New Mexico to the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles when he was 13 - around the time he began playing guitar. Before the move he played drums, but once the novelty of big city living wore off and the reality of being a bored 13 year old set in. And without a place to make a lot of loud noise, he picked up a new instrument and began a new chapter in his life.
Like me, he likes to make noise. He too has been in bands but now prefers to make music on his own. “I like drum machines,” he confessed. “So do I,” I admitted before declaring “They don’t talk back.” This snarky little comment that only people who have had to put up with drummers would get caused Cruz to laugh. And through his chuckles he added a bit of his own snark. “And they don’t have girlfriends. Or get drunk.” That was some solid truth.
Even though he looks more like Tom Petty, when I listened to Cruz I couldn't help but thing, “Is this what it’s like talking to me?” We shared many favorite bands, guitars, and artist. We like similar genres of music. And we both live and work in the neighborhood. The only real differences were the obvious ones: he had hair, he was much younger, and was missing the extra weight that comes with carrying the burdens of fatherhood, priesthood, and living in this hood.
He wanted me to let you all know that, “I do what I can.” With a name like Cruz, which in Spanish means “cross,” I wonder exactly what he can do. I suspect that it's more than he was willing to admit in front of his boss. My boss on the other hand, who knew a thing or two about crosses, already knows everything there is to know about me. So I guess I’ll just do what I can too.