Loud.

They called me L O U D.

I don’t talk like normal girls.
I use my hands to express myself.
I talk an octave higher than everyone else.
I express my emotions when I am happy or upset.

Girls always said they could hear me a mile away. “You’re so loud.”, they would say. That’s the first impression I give people.

I never understood why that was bad. Why people felt the need to silence my voice because their voices quivered in comparison. Why it always left me feeling like I had done something wrong.

“Porque gritas? Aqui estoy.”, is what my Mom would say. Why do you yell. I am right here.

Minutes later she would grab the phone and talk to my Tias. In a voice louder than a whisper. I would hear her laughing and talking into the phone as if she was screaming to me from another room. But she’s talking to her sisters.

“Mami, why do you have to yell on the phone?”, I would ask.
“No estoy gritando. That’s how I talk!”, she’d answer defensively.

I am not yelling. That’s how I talk.

I find myself shrinking myself for a lack of a better person. Shrinking myself into a shell of who I used to be. My voice becomes softer than a whisper and causing me to mumble in places where I should be talking.

They call me “Loud”, when I express myself. “Loud” in places where I should be whispering. “Loud” when all I am doing is talking.

If I can’t be me, who should I be? I should stay quiet for the fear of what people will think of me. I should speak no louder than a whisper for people to find me delicate and gentle. But that’s not who I am. I am tired of shrinking myself to make other people feel better. Instead I speak louder than my voice. Causing shakes through my bones. Opening waves through the dark corners and making cracks through the pavement.

I would rather speak an octave higher than everyone else. I would rather express myself through hand gestures to get my point across. I would rather be LOUD, then ever be told to speak no louder than a whisper.

Loud is who I am.
Loud is how they see me.
Loud is what separates me from everyone else.

But I am not Loud. That’s just how I talk.

 

 

 

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Amelie

I feel like Amelie.

Every time I look out my kitchen window.
Every time I finish baking and start washing every dish.
Every time I forget an ingredient for a recipe and have to stop everything and run to the store.

Hand it to me to think of characters that don’t exist. Thinking of characters as real life scenarios. I find myself daydreaming so often, I believe it is real life. Which leads me to Amelie. Her need to fix everyone. Her beautiful wardrobe, her tiny flat overlooking her neighbor’s window. How toward the end of the film she thinks of the man that had caught her attention. How she daydreams that he is right there with her and it draws so much emotion from her that a tear falls from her eye. 

It makes me think of the men that don’t know I exist. Even after all this time. How one in particular has been fixated on my mind often that if I ever met him in person, he would be a disappointment. Because I have built him up in my mind; from his mannerisms to his essence that he would be too good to be true in real life. Hand it to me to find a man that doesn’t exist. To fall for someone way beyond my league. I guess over the years I find it’s easier to fall in love with a person that doesn’t exist. That way men like him could never let me down. When every man has failed you. Has brought you up only to bring you down to the worthless way you feel. I fall in love with people that don’t exist. Characters in films, fictional people that could never exist in real life. Hiding from my own reality. The reality of feeling broken by the last man that thought he knew me well.

I believe these daydreams because reality has been too much to bear at times. Because the men on the dating sites have been too busy wanting someone else, because I am never what they are looking for. They take too long to reply, take too much of your time or string you along for their own benefit. They want me when they want me. I have spent too long falling for  people that will only bring me down. For them to leave me for someone better.

I wash another dish. Stare at the window, and wish to be somewhere else. To believe that the man I dreamed up, that follows me in my dreams does exist. Forgetting that I have only spoke 4 words to him. Or that we saw each other years later in passing. But sometimes when I forget an ingredient or think of something silly, I feel like Amelie.

It’s then that I stare at my reflection that haunts me through the window. My hair that never falls in the same place as hers does. How people will never care about how much I try to fix things. And no matter what I do, daydreams are never as good as when someone tells you they love you.

I can’t help but feel like Amelie. As I wash another dish and continue to stare out the window.  If only movies were real and dreams came true just the same. But they don’t. Back to reality, back to staring out that window. 

Tobacco and Peppermint

He didn’t smoke. But everyone else around him did. It was so easy back then to make conversation. Just standing next to a shivering person in the cold, asking for a light. It didn’t matter much to him. He didn’t smoke and everyone else around him did. He would just keep the conversation going.

He’d say things that I would find absolutely fascinating. Stupid things that I think back upon years later. How easy the lines flowed from his tongue. Captivating a shivering crowd just keeping warm from a storm. How he loved lines like “Tobacco and Peppermint”, how each item went well as a before and after thought.

Things about him made him seem off. He didn’t drive. After having his license revoked from driving recklessly in his hometown, he relied on other people to get him where he needed to be. Things I understood. Everyone drove me around and driving always seemed like an after thought. Stupid things I still remember. Why do I still remember these things?

They could have been twins. The same sentiments, the same sense of humor. They couldn’t have been more alike. His only downfall was a dry sarcastic humor that people believed made him a genuinely likable person. We saw through that. Making jokes and calling him every name under the sun. He was not the sun, but how he acted like he was. I don’t know why I thought of him today. Or why after ten plus years, he seems to creep into my mind. But when my head hurts I think of the last time my head hurt. How weather changes my emotional state and it comes back to him.

I always wanted to say goodbye, but I never had a chance to. I wanted to say so many things but every word came out wrong. Tongue tied with wanting to say the right thing but every word tying together and  coming out wrong. I find myself talking to him in dreams in cities far from my hometown.  In dreams the words flow out easily then they do in my waking day. Some days, it’s easier to see people in dreams then in my waking day.  Instead I left a space for other people to fill with words and stories. I live off the adrenaline of other people’s stories. The words that flow so easily off their tongues. When I am left tongue tied with goodbyes.

Tobacco and Peppermint. How I tend to think of that line often.

I think of that crowded bar and watching bands play. How easy they made it seem. How their emotions came out in song and I still struggled to express myself. How the room was muggy and how none of it mattered. The rain poured down and I see you walk with her. Hand in hand not thinking anyone was watching. Just as you walked through the door your hands break apart. Gone back to reality and gone to different ends of the room.  Why was I so fixated on that moment. Why that memory about everything else. How poetic it seemed to see people walk in from the rain and break apart once they found shelter. For a moment they were each others shelter, until the real world settled in. That night creeps back to my mind once the weather changes. When I think of rainy days and crowded rooms; finding shelter from storms.

How the singer of a band came up to ask for the time, and stood and stared at a button on my coat. Almost waking me from my haze of dream state. We both became silent for a minute. Maybe in that moment we were both in that dream state. Trying to find the words in waking day. Or maybe he was just staring at a button on a coat of girl that reminded him of something else.

You can have it?, I said
Really?, he replied.
Yeah. it’s just a button.

I handed him the button.
While, he stood and watched.

Tobacco and peppermint.
Before and after thoughts.

 

San Francisco, CA 2003

I can see your aura.

A psychic came up to me in the mall today. Which sounds weird just saying it right off the bat, but this isn’t the first time. I always wonder when stuff like that happens, if they could read everything in your mind. What you’re feeling, who you’re thinking of, and everything else in between. It caught me off guard. When I was busy thinking of people I thought were long forgotten in my mind. I know it’s a hustle, I know it’s some mind game, then I start thinking, “what if?“.

What if she knows something I don’t know? What if everything isn’t just some bogus hustle and she really sees me.

“Your energy is very strong…I see good things coming your way but something is holding you back”, She tells me. Hands me a card and then walks away.

I’ve written about psychics before but something about today made me think back to the first time. I remember it so vividly to the clothes I was wearing and the deep cigarette smoke of a crowded Vegas casino. I was in Planet Hollywood and a lady looked at me and said “You look like you need someone to talk to..” I wanted to cry right then and there because she was right. I sat and listened to her talk about my life at it’s current state. The people who have hurt me. What I was doing to myself. How I needed to stop being in love with people who would never love me back. How my Aura was bright but I lived in a state of complete darkness.

I don’t talk about my problems. I talk about my dreams, my ambitions but to talk about what’s hurting me, I don’t talk to anyone.

At that point in my life I was keeping a variety of secrets and dealing with my own personal demons and self destruction. I’ve had people tell me “If you need someone to talk to, I am here”. Which I am grateful for, but I am stuck in a memory of my problems aren’t half as bad as everyone else’s. This isn’t a pity party. It’s easier to hear everyone else and fade softly into the background. But here I am, seven years later and someone tells me: “Your energy is strong, good things are coming your way but something is holding you back”.

I know what’s holding me back. I am holding me back. I am holding back everything I can to not let people in. I am holding back my life in order to let others feel happy. I know this all too well.

He used to say he could see my aura.

“I am looking at your aura”, he’d say
“No you can’t. If so what color is it?”, I’d reply.

He would fidget and laugh, then never answer. Always changing the song and tapping his fingers to the beat. Songs that I never understand until long after he had gone.

“I can see your aura”, he’d say. Over and Over, again.

Many times I wondered what that meant. Just another ploy to make me believe he cared. That he was the only person that could see me. The only person that saw straight through me. He always gave off this impression that he knew me best. That he knew better than what I was putting out into the world. Telling me that I wasn’t living up to my full potential. Words that have remain triggers to my self-esteem, after I swore that I was letting go of everything that belonged to him.

Seven years later, my heart stops when someone says “Your energy is very strong..”. Because I don’t doubt that my energy is strong. I don’t doubt that I need someone to talk to. I just can’t help wonder how these people find me. Is it through the cosmic energy I put out into the world? Is it my big dopey sad eyes that go looking for them? I know it’s all bullshit. I know it’s all some hustle for money. Still I nod, smile, and take their card. Tracing the number on the card, over and over, until my friend returns. They always find me, just when I am ready to let go.

Sometimes I wish I could tell you about this, where in some universe we were still friends. Still able to talk about things as if nothing had happened. But then I remember that you’d always turn this around like this was my fault. That I asked for this to happen. Always my fault and it would end in an argument where I was the one apologizing. This is where I should be angry, this is where it still hurts. I can’t help but think that you never saw my aura, even though you said you did. You lied to me when I thought you were being true. I am tired of letting this sadness hold me back.

It’s at that moment, I completely forget you. Completely let you go. I fold the card in half and stuff it in my pocket.

I can see your aura“, you would say, but could you see me?

This is how I let you go. This is how I let go.

 

 

 

Daly City, CA.
June. 2016

 

 

 

 

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me.

Ten years doesn’t seem like a long time. When you still refer to everything in the past as 2006. Ten years ago, man. Ten years ago. 2006 was such a pivotal year of growing up for me. I find myself going back to that year in photographs, nostalgia, and through listening to albums that seem like came out yesterday.

Ten years ago, I sat in my parents guest bedroom, staring out the window. I laid in my bed watching the clouds go from grey to slate. Hearing every cloud rupture with anger and sadness, as the rain fell from the sky. In a room I didn’t grow up in. In a room, I felt like I kept coming back too. I was in-between places, still trying to figure out what I wanted. This wasn’t home but Fresno wasn’t home either. Where do I belong? Where do I fit in?

Ten years ago, I didn’t want to go back to school. Even though I knew getting older meant it would be harder for me to do things. My odds were against me. I was finding myself fearful of people and a fear of my peers is what always told me not to go back to school. It takes me 10 minutes to get out of my car to do simple tasks, without feeling like the world was against me. I didn’t realize I was sick. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t normal.

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Ten years ago, I let the wrong people in. I let people hurt me. I let people use me. I let people cloud my judgement of what good really was. Instead I harbored a pain so great that caused me to cut open my outsides, to understand what my insides were feeling. I was burning in this vessel of a body, with this need to please everyone. To be there for everyone, while people have done nothing but watch me fade in the background.

Ten years ago, I thought I was going to marry a variety of different people. A drummer in one band, a bass player in another. Plotting how one day they would look at me differently then they had in the past. That I wouldn’t be self-conscious. I wouldn’t be awkward. They would look straight into me, as I have looked up at them, many times before.

Ten years ago, I feel in love too easily. Always someone different. Always people I shouldn’t have loved. But I wanted to love as I always felt in the deep depths of my heart. How they play out in movies and we see on the big screen. I was hopeless in wanting something I wasn’t prepared to understand. In a way I used people. I just wanted what everyone else had. A hand to hold to keep themselves from falling apart. Because sad was better than lonely. And now I can’t remember the name of the first boy I kissed.

Ten years ago,  I wanted amazing things to happen to me. I wanted to stand in an open place and watch life happen to me. In a big city, miles away from my mediocre small town. Far from the same people I see every day. Maybe if for once instead of running, I would finally allow things to happen. Watch love open doors, see my careers unfold, watch myself change from strange into something beautiful. I waited forever for things to happen. I waited for people to move. I waited for things to happen. I waited too long and feel as if I am running out of time.

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Ten years ago, an album came out that changed my life. I didn’t think it would. Many albums come and go and still I remember this as if it was yesterday. From the weather changing from the warm fall days to the chill of cold of the soon to be winter months. How it felt wrong to buy it from some mass production corporation, how I needed to purchase the album how I had purchased all their albums. Straight from the band, straight from the source. How I ripped open the package and watched my life change in front of my eyes. No one understands how that feels. How something so simple as opening a padded envelope could change your life in so many magical ways. How I needed to get out of my house and play every song loudly. Loud enough to where my insides would wake up. How every cigarette I smoked, I exhaled out the smoke and watched the smoke slowly leave my lungs open to the cold air. The rain kept falling, as this soundtrack continued to play. How perfect this seemed. My favorite band, playing the songs that for that moment I didn’t understand. It didn’t matter how many times the windshield wipers wiped my windshield clear, the rain still managed to leave a mark. Which is how I feel about this album. No matter how many times I try to wipe this away, a small mark still remains. I could write forever about every line in the songs. I could. I have. But today, I want to live in it’s memory.

Ten years ago, I didn’t understand. Ten years later, I finally know. We are not suppose to fit in. We are not suppose to be normal. Sometimes you don’t realize how bad you’re hurting until the years pass and you become someone else. Someone completely different then the person you were ten years ago. Its hard to come out of the darkness and back into the light. It’s hard to understand that even though we feel completely alone, we are never truly alone. Even when you think you can’t start over, life throws you something completely unexpected.

Today, I watch the rain fall from the sky to the tops of each tree and rooftop, from some place far from home. I think back on those memories. I think back to my sentiments and feelings.  Ten years ago, I had no idea where I was going. I stopped believing in love. I stopped believing in myself in the years in took to get here. I stopped wanting to marry the boys that would never love me. I stopped dying for a hand to hold. Ten years ago, seemed like such a long time ago. Now, I sit here wondering what happens next.

Ten years ago, man.

10 years.

“Baby, I’m going on an airplane..”

.”..and I don’t know if I’ll be back again.”

It’s 12:17 am.

My flight leaves in the next 6 hours. It takes me an hour to get to the airport (traffic permitting). About the same to get through check-in, security, and head towards the gate.

My Mom always asks about weight limit for luggage. Seeing if I can squeeze another two pounds in my suitcase.

Una sueter para tu Tia. A sweater for your Aunt.
Una falda para tu Abuelita. A skirt for your Grandma.

A new toy for someone that just had a baby in the family. Don’t forget that each pile is for each family. She continues. I am lucky enough to fit an extra pair of shoes in my suitcase. She does this every time. If I am allowed to take three pieces of luggage, I’d take them full to the max, with a carry-on packed tight and personal bag. But all just two pounds below the weight limit. With all the restrictions there is to fly and each airline charging for luggage, I make it always two pounds below the weight limit. 1 suitcase per ticketed passenger and a small bag for carry-on.

All packed tightly.

Going to the mother country takes months of preparation. Figuring out dates, budgeting costs, meanwhile securing the best deal possible. Of course flights based on luggage allowances doesn’t hurt either. An extra cushion to bring something for someone you love. If the months prior of shopping for each family member hasn’t prepared us, its the extended family members as well. She does this without even flinching. If she had her last dollar on her and found something that reminded her of someone; she would buy it.

That’s my Mom. Always thinking of others.

Then you have the special requests. Various family members asking for items that are too expensive in their country but cheaper and easy to come by at home. Never giving you notice. Always when your bag is packed and you’re ready to go; that your whatsapp sends you an alert.

Hola, te puedo pedir un favor? Hello, can I ask you a favor?

Sometimes I want to throw my phone out the window. Why do you wait until 3 days before I leave?  When you’ve known for months I was coming. But still, I always oblige. It’s what my Mom does. It’s what I have always been taught.

I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve been to Ross, Marshall’s, Target affiliate stores to prepare for this trip. Or the countless times we’ve been to the Segunda. Not including the countess times I’ve complained, begged, pleaded with my Mom to stop buying things. Nobody needs anything. They have more than enough. Remembering a Prima that just came back from the states and went on a fancy shopping excursion. Or mentioned about a family member that always cried about being broke, yet has money to vacation everywhere. I am always told to be quiet malagradecida, ungrateful.

It’s 12:37 am.

I’ve watched as she unpacks then repacks everything. Remembering a hidden shopping bag of items she had bought for my Abuelita. She’s had this suitcase packed the minute after I purchased my ticket. Confirming that it wasn’t as much stuff as last time. Tu Tia a ayudado mucho (Your Aunt has helped a lot), reassuring that every item had it’s reasons.

I am lucky if I could fit my own stuff in the suitcase. A pair of shoes, a book, something.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t pack anything. Puros malagradecidos. No one ever says “Thank You” anymore. It’s as if they expect something every time the plane lands. Especially after the last time. Where everyone pointed a finger at my Mom, that she was the dramatic one. Too sensitive, too passionate, always wanting everything in her way. She’s been away for so long, she doesn’t understand how we do things here.

I remember thinking. You try living miles away from your mother. Not in another state where you’re just a bus or plane ride away. In another country, where you have to adapt to a new language and completely new customs. After the last time, I wondered what they think. Do we seem better off because we live in such a glamorous country? Because honestly, I don’t feel better off. Traveling back and forth isn’t easy with just a swipe of a credit card. Including when you have no money, including when you haven’t worked in a few months. But the glitz and glamour of gringolandia makes people believe otherwise.

I sit starting at the suitcase wondering if she remembers what I do. If that even matters to her. I harbor grudges. I become angry. If they only knew the things we have suffered here with no sense of family. If they only knew the things we have been through being miles away from people we could trust. But I am the ungrateful one? Malagradecida. I wish I could put everything back. Return everything. Get my Mom something she really deserves. Because she of all people deserves a suitcase full of everything she loves. Not them.

I remind my Mom about the many times our family members come to the states, without thinking twice about coming to visit. Using the pretext of shopping in bigger states, going to awesome theme parks, and how it’s just not easy for them to travel like its easy for us too.

How easy going to Vegas must be then the extra miles it would be to fly out to SFO. How silly of me an American to understand spending money in the most expensive country in the world.

My mom thinks of everyone. Even after they have yelled at her. After they have talked behind her back. After she spends a few days in silence after some new bullshit arises.

Remember this bag is for your Prima.
Don’t forget to tell your Abueilta, this sweater is for when she goes it temple..

I wish I had my mothers heart. Able to forgive people as easily as they have hurt you.

It’s 12:55 am.

I go over my flight itinerary, who’s going to pick me up, who I will hug first and what I am going to say when I see my family.

I know she’d rather go in my place. That I am in no position to be going anywhere with my current financial state. I should be home instead of boarding a plane and enjoying every moment being somewhere else.

I sit with anxiety and wonder what awaits me. Will I still be angry? Will I learn to forgive?

When I wake up I’ll forget everything. I will board the plane, sit in my assigned seat and watch the plane take off into the clouds toward Benito Juarez International. I’ll sit and fidget the 4 hours it takes to get there; wondering why I make this trip at all. I think about going back. Taking the trip back home and sitting in my miserable state.

It’s at that moment I wish my Mom came on this trip with me. How she would be sitting by the window, making her plan for the whole week. Going over ever last detail of the contents of the suitcase and how happy it will make everyone to see what they will receive. I think about how happy it makes her to see the people she cares about happy. How happy she was for me the minute I purchased my ticket; knowing I will be spending time with my Abuelita. It’s at that moment, I do feel like a malagradecida (ungrateful).

I shouldn’t be here. I need to stop being angry. I need to get over this feeling, just as my Mom does the moment she comes back home to the states. Because out of all the people in the world, she deserves to be going on this trip. She deserves to spend time with her Mami, my Abuelita. Not an ungrateful person that holds grudges such as myself.

I know the moment I land in Mexico, it will all be different. My attitude will change and my anxiety will lift away. The moment I see my Abuelita, every feeling I had will disappear. She deserves to be here where I stand, not me. But I promise to be grateful on this trip, just like she would want.

But I can’t help but wish she was here. Because she deserves to be here more than anyone. Not me.

 

 

A clove of Garlic on my window.

My Mom always had a thing with putting a clove of garlic on the window. As far back as I could remember, it was one of her little superstitions. Like having a glass of water by the bed before you sleep. Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The garlic clove on the window became her little quirk.

She had been doing the garlic thing for so long that when I was younger I believed all windows came with a clove of garlic. When I’d see a window without one, I’d assume the window was broken. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I understood it was one of her many superstitions.

“Para la mala vibra.”, she would say. For the bad vibes.

When you’re 15, you think anything your parents do is crazy. Everything they do is just weird, off, and super Mexican.

“Mom, you sound crazy. Who would want to give us bad vibes?”, I’d say.

“People. Not all people know the vibra they put out”, she’d respond.

Just another thing to add to the we are different pile. We mexicans are a rare breed of crazy. Superstitions, bad vibes, all of the cosmic universe hocus pocus.

We have a superstition for everything in my family:

Do the sign of the cross before you start a journey. To ensure your journey is blessed.
A St. Christopher medallion to ensure safe travels.
A glass of water by the bed, to trap the bad dreams.
Never place your purse on the floor, that way you will always have money.
A clove of garlic on the window to suck out the “mala vibra” before it enters your house.

I didn’t believe her at times. I didn’t want to. I refused to believe that anyone would want to harm us. Who could want to put out a crazy vibe like that? What would they gain? But I obliged her wishes. I wouldn’t mock or say anything. I just allowed her to work her brujeria  and hoped for the best in everything. Keeping a “buena vibra”, a good vibe going.

Two weeks ago, I had a crazy spell of insomnia. Something I have never experienced. My body would collapse on the bed but I couldn’t shut my mind off. I would find myself falling asleep only to wake up an hour later in a panic.

“Something is wrong. Something happened.”, I would think.

I would look out the window and see my street, black as night. For two weeks, I couldn’t get it together. I tried everything. I took baths with essential oils. I slept with lavender on my wrists. I would watch tv until my eyes felt heavy but nothing worked. I would have resorted to sleeping pills, had it not been my mother handing me 3 cloves of garlic.

“I’m sorry, mija. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t changed your garlic. Here, put this garlic on each of your windows”. She instructed.

I haven’t told her I hadn’t been sleeping. Just briefly in passing. I didn’t want her to think it was serious or that I needed to go to the doctor again. But somehow, without saying anything, she always knew.

I haven’t slept right in a few days. I find myself staring at the ceiling at night, praying to sleep. I hadn’t spoke to God in a long time and these past few days, I’ve been having long detailed conversations with Diosito. I refused to believe this is a coincidence. That this garlic clove is going to solve anything. It’s just a vegetable on my window. Everything has an explanation, a scientific answer. But I could hardly keep myself awake anymore. I wanted to cry from all this stupid exhaustion. I am not sure how much longer I can keep this going.

I replaced each clove of garlic, one clove for each of my windows. The first garlic looked like a raisin. Completely brown with the life sucked out of it. Nothing out of the ordinary, it’s how they usually look when my Mom changes them. I find myself doing exactly as she would do when she would change the garlic; saying a prayer to each garlic, something only she would understand. The second garlic started its stage of regrowth. Equipped with a sprout of life inside of itself. My mom always said when a garlic sprouts life, you have buena vibra, good vibes.

Upon replacing the second garlic, I didn’t understand why I had a third. The only rooms I occupy are taken care of, maybe she miscounted? Then I remembered that nothing my mother ever does is without reason. Handing me 3 garlic cloves for each of my windows, means something. I was too tired to ask her; another lecture of why we do this and what it’s for, etc. It wasn’t until I remembered the third window, that I remembered why the third clove. A window in a room that I don’t normally occupy. A room I only go into to throw miscellaneous items away. The room has always been too warm, too cluttered with objects, old relics of the past that I haven’t had the time to clear out. I never go in there, I tell myself. But it’s worth a shot.

I walked toward the window and see the shell of the garlic. I pick up the shell and start replacing the garlic. I say my final prayer, my wish.

“Please allow no harm to me and my family. Please protect us from negativity and harm from the outside world.”, I said.

I start walking toward the trash to throw away the last dried up clove. Upon inspecting it the clove started disintegrating to ash. As if the clove of garlic held on enough just to become a pile of dust. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there, with the skin of the garlic and felt every emotion inside turn to dust.

“They can’t hurt me no more. They can’t hurt us anymore.”, I found myself saying.

I didn’t wanted to just throw it away in the trash. I wanted to rid myself of that “mala vibra”. I flushed the ash and the garlic skin in the toilet. Walked toward the sink to wash my hands from what happened. Its through that, that I felt a weight lift off my chest and completely off my shoulders.

Was this the reason why I stopped sleeping? Was this the reason of my insomnia? There’s a reason for everything, right?

I walked toward my bed, turned off the light, and covered myself with blankets. I didn’t have a chance to look toward the ceiling before falling into a complete deep sleep. It could just be coincidence. Just my body finally giving out and allowing me to sleep. But I tell you, I have never slept more soundly then I did that night.

Brujeria, superstition, or not, I will continue to change the garlic on my window. As long as it guarantees me a good night sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Amor Eterno.

When I think of home I think of the music of my childhood. The music that blared every weekend morning before starting our day. The songs of Pedro Infante, the harmonies of Steve Wonder, and the tender voice of Juan Gabriel. There isn’t a memory that doesn’t include a song of Juan Gabriel. Every car ride to school and every family gathering. Even a distant memory of being in Mexico and seeing mariachis strumming the first chords of his songs, before belting out the beautifully tragic lyrics. A man with such a vibrancy for life; who captivated the world with his songs of love and heartbreak. We invited this man into our home to remind us of what we have. To remind ourselves to love, to embrace heartbreak but not give into it, and to understand we are never alone.

I can’t help but think of a lifetime of memories that his songs bring. Songs that we’ve all sung at family gatherings, birthday parties, and even sitting in your car thinking of the one person you told yourself you wouldn’t think about. Of all the songs that he has written, Amor Eterno is the one song I can’t help but grab my heart and cry. Crying for lost loves. Crying for people who have passed. Crying for people whom we miss and wish to have one more day with. Another day to say everything we needed to say that we couldn’t say when we needed too. Then the tears start to form at the corner of my eyes as soon as the strings start playing. I hear his voice so clearly. Dedicating the song to every mother, including his own whom he lost long ago. A loss he felt so deeply that her passing is immortalized into this song.

This song reminds me of a family who’s son passed away in route to Acapulco. Forever bringing to light the tears as soon as the line “El mas triste recuerdo de Acapulco” is sung. Of my strongest prima that never lets anything affect her and catching her singing the lyrics softly with tears in her eyes. Her own loss for words and deep profound love within her heart. I think of the countless times my Mami has skipped over this song because it reminds her of my Abuelita, her Mami. How much she misses her and no matter how many postcards and phone calls she makes, it is never the same as seeing her face to face. How I have seen her sing the same words over and over, and trying to hold back her own tears.

I can’t help but think of the the last time I saw my Abuelito. Looking out from his favorite window over looking the street below.  Then later holding his hand at the hospital in Mexico City and knowing this would be the last time. I feel myself breathe a little harder. This deep feeling in my chest as my heart begins to break. I think of my Tia who recently passed and a memory of her in her home filled with warmth and love. A home filled with all her relics and accomplishments. Every conversation I had with them, forever remembered and returning through this song. I think to myself, I should have tried harder to keep in touch. Let me have one more day to make amends.

Yo he sufrido tanto por tu ausencia,
Desde ese dia hasta hoy, no soy feliz.
Y aunque tengo tranquila mi consciencia,
Se que pude haber yo hecho mas por ti.

I sit in disbelief that a song with the simplest words and such a powerful melody could fill the spaces of your veins and tug at the heart. How no matter how many times you hear a song after that, this song will forever haunt you with memory. With a feeling of nostalgia and your only response is to think back at that memory. No matter how many times you want to stop the tears from forming, you can’t help yourself.

I hold myself tighter. Refusing to give into the song, even though I am watching as my surroundings become blurry. Slowly I lean into the melody. Into the words that I have found myself repeating before the next line. This aching lump in my throat when I try to sing. This pain. This sadness. This memory I have tried to forget. I sing louder as if these spirits could hear me. As if they held my hand and sang a long with me. This song overtakes all my emotions and I watch as one by one the tears start to fall. It’s been a long time since I have cried like this. A long time that I let this heartbreak be a reminder of how much I am missing. Because I miss them. With every inch of my heart that beats to the words of this song.

Its only until you have lived through the words of his songs, that JuanGa opens his arms out to you. And like a familiar friend, you outstretched your arms to this man. Taking comfort in his words, and sing a long to the melody. Forever I will be grateful for this man. Who opened his heart to the world and allowed us to take a part of his journey.

Even after the song plays out, I still cry out for one more day. I scream out how much I am hurting and missing, until my cheeks hurt from sobbing. Its been minutes since the song has stopped playing. I slowly start collecting myself and watch as I wipe away my tears and pick up the remaining pieces of my heart. Thank you, Juan Gabriel. Thank you for these cherished memories and for always feeling like home.

Obligo a que te olvide el pensamiento,
Pues siempre estoy pensando en el ayer.
Prefiero estar dormida que despierta
De tanto que me duele que no estes.

 

Self portrait with Chopped hair.

IMG_4079

We grow our hair like weeds for people that will never love us. To later chop off all the dead weight, once they leave us. This time, I wanted to do the leaving. I wanted to cut the man at the source, and resort to every dramatic episode I could think of. Because it was never his choice. It was my choice, my decision, and it was my turn to leave this time.

If you cut your hair, I will leave you.

How I watched every strand of hair grow to the middle of my back. How happy he seemed as he ran his fingers through it, paid no mind to the person before him. It’s when I think I have him, that he leaves without notice. His ghost that trails behind then lingers once he leaves. It’s when I think I have won, that I have lost everything before me.

When you believe you love someone, you’ll fall for anything. Even something simple as leaving every strand of hair on your head, just as they like it. I loved him, from the deep parts of my soul, to every long strand of hair that fell across my back. I watched as my hair became my shield, my armor from the world. My way of hiding these feelings of doubts and worries. My hair continued to grow into a tangled, tousled, mess. I continued to listen to his threats, as empty as the love he gave me. No matter how long my hair grew, he never came back.

Frida Kahlo - Self Portrait with Cropped Hair - 1943

I wanted him back for all the superficial reasons I hated. I wanted to stop this numbing suffocated feeling of being alone that drugs nor alcohol could fill. My hair continued to grow and I continued to wait. He said I was perfect and to never change. If I cut my hair, he would only leave me. He would never come back. And I continued to wait. Until the weight of my hair became the weight of my worries. Until my hair became heavy, that I could no longer hold my head up to the sky. We do these foolish things for love but at what cost does it love us back? At what cost do people understand that we are people underneath all that hair? That our hair doesn’t make you love us any less. There were days I wanted to rip every strand from my head. Tear apart the existence of what I believed he wanted. Because for a brief moment I was perfect to you, don’t I ever think of changing.

I watch as the strands of hair fall to the ground. Inch by inch. The memories of you and the ghosts before you. If you cut your hair, I will leave you.  I try to keep myself composed. Hold the tears back. Love was never what held us together. The strands of dead hair that laid before my feet; bear witness to this change that comes over me. I am more exposed to the world without my shield. I am showing the world who I really am, beneath the hair.

 

When the final strand of hair falls, I will forget you. Someone will come in and sweep away the memories scattered on the floor. It won’t be me this time. For the first time, I have stopped listening to ghosts.

 

Tonight.

He was easy to talk too. Someone, I could come home too. Come home from a long day and talk about everything. He carried a charm about him, that I found myself enamored by things he would say. Every minute became easier to be around him.

Could he really be this charming? Or is it all the drinks I am consuming?

I didn’t love him. Maybe, if anything, I had tiny feelings for him. At this point, who don’t I have feelings for. I would have feelings for a lamp post, because it gave me light. But thats just who I am. I love people only to disappoint them in the end. If anything he just made me feel safe. Like I could be honest about everything without judgement. Some part of him would be familiar, as if I had felt these sentiments before. I just couldn’t pinpoint where.

“Stop looking at your phone. Everything you need is right here”

He didn’t mean it condescendingly. Some parts of it is a corny drunken slur. And yet, I believed him.

I don’t want to go home. As dark as it was at the Bar, I could have stayed here for hours. Maybe I did, I can’t remember. I found myself drinking this ache in my chest away. With every sip, I will cut you out of my heart.

Maybe not tonight.
Tonight, let’s just think of something else. Anything else.

With every sip of his beer, his words would slur into something more meaningful then the next.

I didn’t buy it at the time. At the time, I couldn’t think of anyone else but someone else. Someone I should have left in the dust of my memories. Someone I should never have brought with me in my new life here. The same person that made me check my phone dozens of times, instead of realizing “everything you need is right here”.

“That’s not what you’re looking for”
“What am I looking for then?”
“Me”

I could have kissed him right there. In my drunken haze, in this dimly lit bar. I could have.

But I didn’t.

No amount of drinks will rid the person that hurt you out of your heart. No matter how many boys you kiss, its not going to take the taste of his lips away. No matter how many times I cut myself, its never going to get him out from under my skin.

I feel stupid drowning out my sadness with someone else, thinking about someone else.

Everything I need is right here.

And I know better now.

Burbank, CA 2009