personal

One last look.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”, she said. As I slowly walked away from her desk. Life is all about last looks, this one was no exception.

I imagined myself doing different things with my life. Going on different adventures, then what was happening before me. I never imagined coming back home. I never thought that failing was an option. As I always do, I picked myself up and started over. Starting over by going home until I come back to this fucking city.  I am going home to regroup then come back to this town to be somebody. Anybody then the person I was before. Not the broken person I was when I came here.

Big cities don’t take to kindly to lonely hearts. Broken people don’t always find what they are looking for. But I will be the exception. The exception to the rule.

I walked away from her office and watched the room glitter with the sunlight. The same golden color. The same sparkle from the afternoon sun. What I would give to be outside  but instead, I am saying goodbye to everything that was familiar.

Life doesn’t prepare you for goodbyes. Life doesn’t prepare you for last looks and the words that haunt you after. Instead, you move forward and hope for the best. Praying, wishing, hoping, that all of this will be a distant memory. Just another story to add in the book of life.

It’s been six years since I have been back. Six years and I still feel like like a visitor in my hometown. This doesn’t feel like home but neither did that big city. Which is why I felt the need to burn my bridges and watch them crumble behind me.

Yet, those words haunt me.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

As I make another last look through the glistening rays of the sun behind me.

One day I will. Someday soon.

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Golden Hour.

I feel like I have lived a thousand lives. Ones more tragic than the next. Then the sun hits every inch of my skin and I feel born again.

Different.
Brand new.

It’s the shadows from the golden rays that peek through the blinds. Straight from the outside, for I am always inside. It’s neither cold nor warm, just this glittery feeling of gold etched in your face and every parts of your skin. It’s what photographers try to photograph and emulate. With artificial lights and colors. Holding still until the light is just right.

It’s through the shining of this magic hour I think of everything. Every sun drenched memory. Every crazy golden moment. My breathing gets slower and my eyes start to well with tears. Each tear sparkling with the effervescent sun.

If I loved you last, I would love you best, I kept telling myself. I say this to the shadows that wave with each motion of the words. I don’t know what love is anymore. We are all rose gold and amber in this light. We are all love in this glittery way of speaking. We are all warmth in this sunset of light that we see before us. Yet, I don’t even know who the “you” is anymore. At this moment is could be anyone. I could have loved you more. I could have believed every single word you said. Instead, I find myself talking to shadows to keep away all these ghosts.

We were once all silver and now we’re gold. In this golden hour, one of the loneliest moments. As the gold sprinkles across its flecks on ever inch of the white room. When you’ve let everything go, it’s when you start all over again.

If I loved you last, I would love you best.
The sun sets and the darkness overcomes us.

I tried to drink it away.

I tried to drink it away.

I can’t stop thinking about that line.

It’s a haunting reminder of a past and the person that goes with it. Who I am, who I was, and everything in between. But the way the words linger, I can’t stop hearing over and over.

If I could drink it away, I would. Every last drop. Every thing to keep this memory from forming a nostalgic image in my romanticized past. Everything through rose colored glasses. Everything blurry, messy, vile and perfect.

All I have are memories. The late nights in crowded rooms. The cigarettes I’ve smoked. The countless men I have kissed, just to wish it away. The countless times I tried to drink it away. Nothing worked. Even sitting here going over lines in my head, I can’t keep it away.

I rub my hands together in nervous energy. Running the fingers down the palms of my hands. Thinking of a million things. People I have longed to forget. Everything just keeps coming back. If I say everything out loud it just puts words into the atmosphere. It makes the names disappear but the faces remain. When all I want is to do it take this pain away.

I drink to forget. I drink to let go. I hold the bottle close and wish this away. Years will pass eventually and the nostalgia of you will disappear. Until then, I continue to drink these feelings away. Putting out words in the atmosphere until you disappear completely.

I am going to let you go.
One drink at a time.

 

San Francisco, CA
January 21, 2009
#thisishowIletgo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your English.

WOW. Your English is very good.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that sentence. I would probably be out of debt by now.

I try my best to bite my tongue. Because no one wants to hear what I have to say, let alone care to hear where I come from. If they only knew how many times that happens. How people often talk to you in Spanish because they hear the thick accents of your parents. How people assume you don’t know a lick of English. How people assume that you were born in Mexico and ask you questions about where you are from.

My Mom would tell me how ladies would look at her and ask what part of Mexico my brother and I were from. When she would reply, “They were born here”, they more then often would repeat the question. They would ignore her. Because her accent gave her away. You’re not from here and neither are your kids.

Growing up people always asked how I spoke English so fluently. Because the minute they saw my name on paper, they went straight to my last name. Didn’t matter that my paperwork was in front of them.  All they saw was my last name before they saw me. I remember how my childhood friends parents would talk. Talk as if I wasn’t in front of them. I was always “that little Mexican girl”. How it was amazing how the little Mexican girl can enunciate her English words. Just as fluently as the Spanish words come out.

How do you speak without an accent?
Is your first language English or Spanish?
Why is your English so good?

I wish people would stop talking. Or when they try to be funny and talk in Spanish to me. As if my language is a party trick for their amusement.  After they had second guessed my English.

It doesn’t matter what I say. It’s not what they want to hear. They want to hear my accent. They want to hear me mess up my words and be there to correct me. They want to prove a point that no matter how many times I say I was born in the States, they want to tell me I am from Mexico. They want to hear me get angry in Spanish. They want the Mexican to come out of me.

One day, people are not going to like what I have to say.
One day the taste of blood in my mouth will not hold back my tongue.
One day  I am going to say “Funny, how English is my Second Language and I speak it better than you do.”

But I won’t dare. That’s what people want from me. Instead, I bite my tongue. Allow my mouth to overflow with the blood of my tongue. The blood that keeps me together. The blood that keeps me sane. I have learned that at this point, it’s not worth a fight. It’s just best to let this all go.

My English is good because I was born in the states.
My English is good because I was born in the states.
My english is good because I was born in the states..

Am I making myself clear yet?

 

Two First Names.

My Mom has two first names. Not a first and a middle name like we do in American culture. But two first names. She rolls them off her tongue with such ease that it intimates people around. She hates when people  use only one name. She hates when they call her “Rosa” or “Rose”. The names that remind her of being reprimanded by her Mami or reminded her of family members with the same name.  The way people over enunciate the name once they see her last name. “Row-za”, just the thought of it shoots a shiver down her spine.

That is not her name.

She speaks clearly and firmly, and repeats herself often. It’s uncommon to have two first names. Even though there are names like Anabel, Isabella, etc. Names that look so beautifully together. It’s almost too hard to comprehend that she was so special she needed two first names.

The name field is never big enough for her. Always cutting off half way through the second name. Having to remind every person she does business with that her name is composed of two names. Not first and middle name, but a full strong fuerte first name.

I didn’t understand it when I was younger.

“Why does it matter what they call you?”, I would say.
“Porque no es mi nombre”, she would reply.
Because that is not my name, she would say.

I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. She is “Rosita” at home in Mexico. She is “Vieja” or “Honey” to my Dad. She is “Martha” to people who know her best. Why one name made such a difference. Why was it so important.

It was in the way people say her name. In the way people hesitate and question as soon as they read off her last name. They way people break down each name into individual entities. How people acted forgetful when they said her name. Then later annoyed when she corrected them. It became this battle between what was right and what was culturally correct. Another chance to Americanize her with what they think is right. It was taking something away from her that was a part of her. Taking away her name that she fought hard to protect all these years.

When she got sick, I understood. It was me correcting the doctors. It was me telling the nurses to re-do her paperwork correctly. It was correcting people who called her by one name as she walked into the office and watching them roll their eyes when I corrected them. It was correcting every single one of their hesitations and even correcting how they enunciated her name. Something that for years I thought wasn’t important, until I understood what it was like in her shoes.

Stop calling me by a name that is safe to you.
Stop trying to correct me as if I don’t understand you.
Stop hesitating the minute you see my name written in front of you.

I think back to the times I would argue with my Mom about it. How she needed to let it go, that people would never understand. Now that I am older I realize how important it is to her. How much it truly means to her.

My Mom has two first names and everyone should be okay with that.

 

 

 

Latino Representation.

 

A year ago, I read an article on Remezcla about a Gala that was dedicated to Hispanic Achievements in the Arts. Each guest was asked about the First Latino they saw on television. While the guests replied, Rita Moreno, Desi Arnaz, Freddie Prinze Sr., etc.  After reading everyone’s responses I started thinking to myself, “Who is the first Latino I saw on television”. I came up blank. I could name a dozen Latino actors that are killing it at the moment. But the first Latino actor I saw on television,  I couldn’t think of anyone. I could remember the first actor I saw on TV. I could remember the first cartoon I watched. But I couldn’t remember the first Latino I saw on television.  For some reason that question struck a chord with me. I spent the last two weeks after reading that article thinking about that question.

How could I not remember the first Latino Actor I saw on Television? In the span of two weeks, I asked my fellow Latino friends if they remembered the first Latino actor they saw on television. We each went over every sitcom we grew up with. We talked about the Latino film scene, actors on the rise, even the late night circuit of Sabado Gigante and Siempre en Domingo. But to remember an actor on American television, we each came up empty. After a few back and forth conversations, it finally dawned on us. The first Latino actor we ever saw was Sonia Manzano.

Sonia Manzano as we all greatly remember is “Maria” from Sesame Street. Sesame Street was big in the 80’s, I don’t need to go into detail that  Sesame Street was ahead of it’s time. Being at the forefront of groundbreaking television and being first and foremost a children’s program. I grew up on Sesame Street as well as many other children from my generation.  I remember very clearly how big of a deal it was that Sonia was on the show. Every time she would come on the screen my Mom always made a big deal about it. “That’s Maria, mija. Ella es Puerto Rican/ She is Puerto Rican.”. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time. I just knew that when I looked at her, she reminded me of my Mom. How gentle she was with all the characters and how much patience she had explaining letters and lessons to each person. Even after I stopped watching Sesame Street, it took me a long time realize how important the character Maria was. Maria was our neighborhood. Maria was our community. Maria was our Mom that comforted us and took care of us. It took me a long time to understand why my Mom always pointed her out. Why she felt the need to say that she was Maria and she was Puerto Rican.

Growing up, I watched a lot of television. I grew up with the 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which later turned into the Sex and the City, and 30 Rock, etc. As much as I loved those shows and commented how I was a “Brenda” or a “Carrie”, I realized that I wasn’t any of those characters. Shows would come out yearly that would generate buzz and be marketed toward my age group, but I found myself disillusioned with them. They were the same faces, the same flawed characters, the same unlikable people, but none of them were me. While people around me were applauding the groundbreaking characters and direction, I just couldn’t do it. Not that I was trying to be difficult but I wasn’t these girls. I just wasn’t these white characters. Characters that as entertaining as they were with their beautiful hair and hilarious one liners, I wasn’t any of them.  If anything I was the complete opposite of these characters. I found myself re-watched my old favorite shows. Soon realizing that as much as I loved these shows, I stopped relating to these characters.

I think back to Maria. How my Mom would point out that her character’s name was Maria and she was Puerto Rican. How honored my Mom felt as a Mexican woman living in the states that this character, a latina of Puerto Rican decent was on a highly popular children’s program. It made me think  back at all the shows I watched and how I lacked a character of my own. I lacked families that mirrored my own, I lacked a sense of diversity, I lacked a sense of color. I realized why it was important to point out characters like Maria on Sesame Street, to show that we latinos could be on any of these shows. I spent year watching countless shows come and go on TV. The House of Buggin, George Lopez Show, Freddie, Ugly Betty; shows that showed a fraction of what it was like growing up in a Latino household. As shows would be cancelled and a new wave of shows would start, I would scan the trailers and hope to see characters that looked like me. Characters that reminded me of home, of my own family. Shows that I could point out and say “Mira Mom, that’s Maria. She’s Puerto Rican”.

Latino Representation isn’t just a gimmick. It’s not our way of pushing other characters aside or saying how our values are more important. It’s showing that we can play characters that are flawed, broken, and misrepresented. We are more than just sidekicks, vixens, and thugs. We are more than just the maids that clean the houses. Our families are more than just some comedic relief to generate cheap laughs. Latino Representation is everything. It’s seeing a new character on Star Wars and hearing his accent that reminds me of my Mom’s accent. It’s seeing the Abuela on Jane the Virgin and seeing the face of my friend’s Mothers and Grandmothers. It’s watching George Lopez’s standup “Why You crying” and remembering stories your Dad told you of his youth in LA. Why Princesses named Elena and Sofia are important, because they’re the names you grew up with. It’s more than just ratings and shiny award shows. It’s seeing faces that look like every member of your family and feeling a sense of home. It’s showing that we each have a story to tell and they’re just as funny and as entertaining as everyone else. It’s pointing out the characters and saying “That’s Jane, and she’s Puerto Rican”. “That’s Oscar Isaac, and he’s Guatemalan”. It’s pointing out that character and saying “Hey, that person is Latino. That’s character is like me”.

Every year I am thankful to a new breed of shows that showcase Latino actors. Every season I sit and watch through the trailers and see how my culture is represented. Every season I hope for a new batch of characters that remind me of people I grew up with. Characters that remind me of home. Every time I see a latino character, I won’t stop pointing out the characters and saying they are Latino. Because that’s what Mami would do.

 

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.

 

Shake it out.

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I should have written this a long time ago. The minute my heart changed, and we went our separate ways. Like a broken record, I yearn for the tragic melodies of yesterday. The pain that cuts you straight down to the core. Bleeding through your veins and making your heart beat faster. I love the hurt, I need the pain. This sick desire for self destruction never leaves. But at this moment it has started to escape me.

You can take everything you want from this. Every letter, every word, every sentence, every verb. Everything. Let it manifest itself into what you want to believe. Because if I cared even an ounce about you, I wouldn’t feel the need to rid myself of you.

I do not break for you.
I do not cry for you.
I do not love who or what I believed you were.

You’re the needle that scratches my record player, wanting to hear only my favorite song. At this moment, everything sounds differently now. Even you look different now. The past always stays in the past, no matter how many times a ghost haunts you. The ghost lingers then drifts away, just around the same time the melody ends. Ending with the memories, ending with the sadness and all the tears.

Its through this pain that I thought a million things about you.

I thought I loved you.
I thought I missed you.
I thought I would self-destruct without you.

Thinking only leads to dreams that never truly existed. An end to our story. Waking from the blissful dreams into our badly lit reality. Its then we find ourselves back at the start. Back to the beginning.

Scratch that.

We can’t take things back to the start. We have maxed out our ideas of new beginnings. What’s done is done and every girl after me is just filler space. Because men like you hate the voided vacancy of present tense.

I will shake you out from underneath my skin. Out from every inch of my bones, into the dusty mist where you belong. Because I am doing just fine without you. Every night is another night to forget you. I watch as memories turn to dust and leave behind all these scattered thoughts about you.

I am doing just fine.
I am doing just fine.
Just you wait and see.

Duele.

It doesn’t hurt, I am okay.
No duele.

Jump to your feet.
Dust yourself off.
Pretend it doesn’t hurt.  While the tears are forming at the corners of my eyes.

No duele. No pasa nada.
It doesn’t hurt, everything will be okay.

Be strong. Fuerte. I am bigger than my cuts and my scrapes. Bigger then my falls and failures. Bigger then the embarrassment of the hurt I feel inside.

It doesn’t hurt, no duele.

It hurts. Straight to the core. In the deeper depths of my soul. I could paint the wound any color, but it never stops hurting. How strong am I suppose to be? How strong am I suppose to allow the world to see?

Levantate. No pasa nada. Pero todo duele.

Everything hurts. From my skin to my bones to the very depths of my soul. I have been programmed to make every scrape disappear. Every broken blood vessel nonexistent. But it hurts. It hurts every inch of my skin and I am too afraid to say so. I was brought up to believe that if you can’t see pain, the pain doesn’t exist. Cover up every cut, bandage every bruise and broken bone. If it’s not there, it doesn’t exist.

I will lie through my teeth. Clinching my fists to stop the tears from forming.

It doesn’t hurt.
It doesn’t hurt.
It doesn’t hurt anymore.

No duele tanto. Pero, duele suficiente.

 

18 forever.

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I want to remember people how they were. The exact image they portrayed, very long ago in a nostalgic paradise. Where time stood still and you remained in your pristine condition.  If only photographs could talk, would I be able to point you out completely. Storytelling is far to good to tell, then by photographic memory.

That’s where I keep you.

Locked away in the vaults of my memory. Hidden in the crevices of my brain, locked away under stories and memories. It doesn’t matter what I do, I continue to search for you. Across the country, across the state, across the faces of the people I loved. Maybe it has always been you. Maybe it was this illusion of staying in one place or coming back home to something. It didn’t matter. People will scan across these words thinking its about a specific person and it’s not. Sometimes there’s that one person you want to forget but you keep being reminded of. Sometimes you want to keep stories personal, and as you get older you can’t keep things to yourself anymore.

I watch buildings change. I watch people grow up. I look at places that meant the world to me, go through different variations of themselves that they become nonexistent. I watch the cities I spent my youth in become gentrified garbage, instead of the kitschy places they used to be. I love the nostalgia, I love the stories, and I know they can’t go on forever. Buildings change, people grow up, and even people we once loved have a reality. Sometimes I think I love you, and then I become the 18 year old with bold expectations. Now a days it’s just a silly notion of my youth. Silly memories of never wanting to grow up. Staying up all night, looking up at the stars, and wishing to be in bigger cities with the people that meant the most to you.

You have become different heroic expectations in many aspects of my stories. Lingering in and out of my mind, coming and going just as you please. Some days I want badly to hate you, but I can’t. Other times I just wished you never existed. Deep down a part of me knows that I am officially crazy. The person I believe you to be and the person you really are, are two different people. This image I keep of you doesn’t exist to anyone else but myself. I feel crazy to even believe who I think you are. The thing with fantasies is that people’s realities are far to realistic. To know who you truly are in reality, kills the dream I have conjured up in my mind. You existed to me. Even if no one believes me. Every hero I write is based on stories of the past and the person I believed you to be. But the past is the past, I can’t keep searching for you in faces of people that no longer exist. I can’t keep holding a candle to a person that is kept only in stories of a nostalgic paradise. When you grow up, you have to let go of the things you once loved. Making way for new memories and journeys, new loves and expectations. Maybe I will always be just jealous cause we’re young and in love, but I have to grow up some time.

18-year-olds grow up to be 33-year-olds. Even you had to grow up some time. You’ll always be the hero at the end of every one of my stories.

Always.

10.22.2013