About Johnny

A Doppelgänger in Barbados

Hello, again, from the Nomadic Life. I’ve been typing away at this About Me from all over the United States—Chicago, New York, Miami—and the Caribbean—Curaçao, St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados; from an Airplane jumpseat, at a desk in some random room, and on my reading chair at home. I’ve started and restarted this About Me about six times already. It’s kinda weird to sum up one’s life and expect people to care what one writes. Shoot, my last version About Me ended up with a psycho-analysis my childhood to explain why I’m gay! 

I finally decided to do just a quick summary.

I’m Johnny Guzman from Riverside, California. I grew up the oldest of four brothers to a poor family. My dad raised us on the streets, learning to fight and lead. My mom worked her ass off to provide food and a roof over our heads. It wasn’t easy growing up poor, having to stand in line handing over our food stamps or for our turn to grab the essentials from the local food bank. But we survived. It made us tough. 

Rooftop Restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, California

Being poor taught me how to cook from scrapes. Mom was always at work, night and day, day and night. She was seldom home and often tired; dinner would be either something made from a box or fast food. Sorry, Mah, but cooking wasn’t your specialty. Same with Dad, he was no genius in the kitchen either. I remember he made this ramen noodle dish from a recipe he learned in jail. Did you do a double take? I hope you did. Jail? Jail? He cooked us— starving boys—a ramen noodle dish mixed with canned tuna, mayonnaize, and tons of hot sauce. What in blue tarnation?! This fueled my desire even more to learn how to cook. Heck, it wasn’t just desire. It was pure terror at what might be put on the table!! Nothing scars a kid more than weird prison food, let me tell you. With our meager food and lack of parental direction, it was grandma who first showed me how to cook. My first lesson would be on how to make pancakes. Pancakes will always be my favorite food. Not those IHOP pancakes either, the thick mass of cake so huge and heavy that you’re full before you even get halfway through. It’s all about Mrs. Butterworths boxed delight with the Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry syrup. Oh that good stuff. Memory is always surrounded by the golden smells of warm butter, pancakes, and sweet syrup. Oh beautiful nostalgia.

Swimming in waterfalls in the Rainforest of Puerto Rico

I grew up in a family of musicians. My great-grandpa, I am told, used to conduct his own orchestra. Another uncle of mine plays in a jazz band. However, I learned piano from Uncle Kevin, who is a bit of an eccentric, complete with wispy, wild hair. He taught himself how to play. He encouraged me to sit at the piano with him and watch his fingers. Soon I began tinkering on those keys and now, about 20 years later, I’m creating my own compositions on the computer. My great love affair with the piano has allowed me to cope with life’s challenges: mourning, stress, love…the piano was the perfect companion when there weren’t any companions. My piano has felt my tears and joys; it gave me encouragement.

I used to work at the Disneyland Resort, during which I found not only my voice and strong mind, but experienced the world in such a way that allowed me to be firmly grounded in who I am. I came out of the closet while working there. I learned to stick up for myself while I was a supervisor at a restaurant. I fell in love a few times and experience love’s cruelty. I discovered a thirst for traveling. I took quite a few road trips with my greatest friends. During the eight years of working at the Disneyland Resort, I grew into the person I am now.

Now, I am a Flight Attendant. That thirst for travel is completely satisfied by my job. It seems like I no longer have to go on vacation—my job IS a perpetual vacation. They say love what you do and you will never have to work. I love my job. I love getting up in the early ass morning—like this morning when I woke up at 230am for a 330am shuttle pick up—because at the end of the day I will end up somewhere I want to be (tonight will be an overnight layover on a beach at a Cancun Resort). Yeah the job gets tough when we have to deal with unexpected delays. Of course, when you end up on a beach in beautiful Cancun at the end of the day, nothing can phase you. Eye on the prize, eye on the prize, eye on the prize.

All in all, that’s me in a nutshell. Thanks for your readership and hope to hear from you.

Jerk Hut, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Hello, and Cheers from the Heart

—Johnny Guzman