stories

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.

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“Quédense, unos minutos con nosotros…”

“4 and 3 and 2 and 1”..

It’s the street where we grew up. It’s the block where we came from.
To the people who look like us, who talk like us, that grew up just like us.
No matter what people say. People can’t help but think we are all the same.
We are loud in the quietest of places.
We are overly expressive in the sounds of the oppression.

We are the bad bass on every street corner. Playing the same played out Chente song.
Big banda, cumbia, salsa, ranchera songs that your heart can’t help but mimic into heart beats.
Watching your head sway as your feet mimic the beat in your Nike Cortezes and your Converse Chucks.

It’s Domingos in the church in our Sunday best.
Clutching our Jesus pieces and praying tomorrow would be better day.
Light a candle to guide your way, because Mañana is another day to be extraordinary.
As we rush through the rituals and sign of the cross at the entrance of the wooden gates.
Paciencia y fe, as we look to the cruz.
Paciencia y fe, because we have nothing to lose.

We are bright colors on your plain unmarked white walls.
We are Graffiti on your pristine street signs.
We are Old schoolers playing oldies as if time never skipped a beat.
Los viejitos on the front lawn in their lawn chairs with the same stories of what could have been.

We are big hoops and bright red lips.
We are the loud printed fabric that clings to our every curve.
Ladies with the big bags walking on the sidewalks in the sunshine.
Always places to go. Always places to be seen.
Walking out the streets like this week’s Vanidades cover.
Even when you mocked us. Even when you said we were too much.
Mucho mas y todo eso.

We become your aesthetic.
We become your mood board.
Your own reflection of cultura that you seem to know more about then me.
We become what every young person thinks they know about but they never truly lived through. Because if you knew what we lived through can’t be taught, until you lived through these breaks. You can’t scream out our words in the attempts of filler space.

Latino and Proud isn’t a t-shirt you can put you.
Latino and Proud isn’t this seasons look in this month’s Vogue magazine.

You ask me where I am from.
You ask me where I am going.
We all beg to leave but afraid we stay.
We can’t be proud.
We can’t be who we are.
Unless it better fits your mood, another look to add to this month’s pinterest board.

So, when I tell you I am Latino and proud. I watch you shiver in places in your newly bought huaraches. Hiding behind your $99 dollar serapes that the urban commercial markets be capitalizing on.

You want to be like us.
You want to act like us.
You want to take everything from us.
But don’t let us be proud of who we are.
Until the next season fad shows up.
Another culture to add to your bookcase.

When the chorus comes in, don’t forget where you’re from.
Latino and Proud, then on to the next song.

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.

 

 

 

It happened to me.

He says he’ll leave me if I cut my hair.
So I wear it longer on the days I see him.
When all I do is hide behind a curtain of hair to hide every scar I am feeling.

He doesn’t like it when I wear that color. It reminds him of her. So he bans me from wearing it in order to please him. I don’t hesitate. I don’t say no. I just do as I am told. To avoid an argument. To avoid the words that he holds still and strongly behind his tongue.

I am afraid to speak at times. The outcome outweighs the lasting effects of anything I could ever say. I don’t know myself at times. I was a smart girl. I was a strong girl. Now I am letting someone else dictate my thoughts and actions.

I don’t know who I am anymore, I tell myself.
I am not me without you, I say out loud.

It’s not the fists I am afraid of. It’s this unseen power a person can hold over you with the mountain of words that follow. How easy it is to say how you feel and mean what you say. How easy it is to cut down a person without giving it a second thought.

I found myself saying that I’d wish he’d hit me. Something to show the world of the vile person he was. Create the villain among the sinners. All they see is my reactions to every one of his actions. All they see is my skin burning red and my tongue lashing out at everyone that defies me. All they see is my anger and his calm demeanor. Because he was always too cool and too good of a person to hurt people. He was always the cool guy in his nice kicks. He couldn’t hurt a fly they’d tell me. How I wish he’d hit me just to prove them wrong. Just to show them that I was right and they were wrong. Then all these feelings would be real not under the surface.

People always say “That would never happen to me”. I hate that. As they see a girl cover her face or hear a story of a girl who just couldn’t take it anymore. They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know what it’s like to hide from your friends and family. To pretend your okay when your whole world is falling apart. How it feels to cut your arm in places because the words were too big of a burden to keep to yourself. So you punish yourself for being the sad expectation of who he wanted.

I was the dead weight he refused to carry, he’d often said. If I was skin and bones he would love me more. Hold me tighter. I believed him. I was stupid and I believed him.

I used to say “It would never happen to me“. That I would be one of the lucky ones to fight until my hands were red and my throat was raw. They don’t know that sometimes when a man loves too much they just ignore you. Tell you how worthless you are. How every time they see you it makes them sick. They don’t know how sometimes it’s more than physical. That words have a way of leaving bruises and scars on every inch of your skin. But they’ll never see it. They’ll never know.

They’ll never know that the reason you stopped dating is that you hear his voice in the back of your mind. That nobody will want you after he has had you. That nobody will ever love you as much as he had loved you.

Nobody.

It would never happen to me, they’d say.

But it happened to me.

Tracy, CA. 2015
#ThisishowIletgo

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

The Boy who blocked his own shot.

Lies are sweeter than the truth. Sweet as candy that burns and decays below the surface. It doesn’t hurt when it’s sweet. It doesn’t hurt to believe, but it hurts when you leave and you watch everything burn into nothing. People love a hero. They love a captain that takes charge of the ship, even when you drift off course. Its the course that you stick with, the course that you lie with, the course that you can’t help but pretend doesn’t exist. Until everyone knows and you make villains out of saints because it’s what you know best. As far as everyone is concerned there is only one hero. Everyone else is just a storm of villains that drives the ship off its course.

Everyone knows better than everybody else. Everyone has something to say and yet it never truly matters anyway. Because truth will always become lies. Words will always get twisted and you only see what you want to believe. Sparing feelings is better than saying anything. Lies are easier to produce then being honest with the truth. How our lies intertwine into webs of uncertainty and everyone knows. When you make up things in your mind, that are fair greater than any honesty we could see. Honesty is a blunt cut, but we can’t help but dress it up with lies that soften the blow.

I become the villain, that always spoke too soon. I become the hatred, the darkness, the storm that turned to a hurricane. The hero just continues through the storm without a scratch, and I am still cleaning off the salt from my wounds. It only matters what the captain says that turns him into the hero. It only matters if the sun shines down on to the sea and clears the way.

It only matters what you tell everyone, to make yourself feel better. It only matters how much of the story is real, instead of the fabrication you want everyone to believe.

I still sleep soundly, I hope you do the same.

11/16/2015

9/1/2015 – Day Eighteen.

I didn’t think I would make it.

If I had to be completely honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted too. I counted down the days dreading this trip. Then before I knew it, I was pleading to stay. It doesn’t make much sense to run from one chaos toward another. Running away just adds more to the wanderlust, instead of satisfying this hunger of leaving. It’s watching all the darkness in my life transform into different shades of color, instead of variations of black and grey.

I am not ready to leave. I am not ready to return to familiarity. I am not ready to state how I feel to the faces that believe they know me best. Maybe I’ll never be ready. How often can you hide from the world and remain in this hidden bliss. Where no one knows what is going on, because you keep your feelings hidden so efficiently.  If I stay here any longer, I’ll be hiding forever. If I leave now, I have to admit that I am not okay. Going away doesn’t change your problems, it just hides them with better scenery. I am running out of time. Running out of resources to get me out of this mystified existence. Its good to go home. Going home to regroup and start right back all over again. Back to the people who know me best and want nothing but what is best for me. Everything happens for a reason. Even goodbyes are never really forever. I just feel rushed. If only I could just jump back into that mind frame. Jump into these good intentions wrapped with best wishes. But I can’t.

I stand tall on the rooftops staring down at landscapes. At the countless rooftops of these buildings in my memory. I could draw this scenery with my eyes closes. How the storms have settled and gave way to the clear skies that lie in front of me. The wind in my hair and I don’t want to go home but I know I have to. With my bags packed, everything organized and placed in its right place. But home doesn’t feel much like home when you’re gone. Home is just where my things are but its not where my heart lies. Its not where the wind blows straight through me, into my bones cutting me to the core. I can paint my smile, watch the planes come and go, but they don’t lead me home. I don’t know where home is and sitting in chairs people have sat before me, I am not getting close to it.

 

8/23/2015 – Day Twelve.

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I am not here.

I am suppose to be present, be here now. Lately, I feel completely disconnected, that a drop from the sky would send shivers down my spine.

I am not here. I continue to tell myself.

I should be taking in my surroundings. Taking in the culture, the people, the language, the streets, the movers and the shakers. Listening to the vibrancy of the sounds on the outside, instead I close myself off to the world hiding inside. I am not here, I can’t be found. Finding myself sitting in empty chairs, patiently waiting, very still. Waiting for something, anything to see me. Be here now.

Watching shadows cast themselves over me. I’ve spend so much of my time talking, explaining, forming words to explain this descend into madness. I am tired of talking. All I ever do in life is talk and open up my insides for the world to see, that all I want to do is close myself off from the world. Explaining things to people who will pay attention then later pay no mind to when it’s gone. It’s not fair of me to take you away from your regularly scheduled programing, so I keep these feelings inside and wait this all out.

I am sitting in empty chairs, closing myself off from the world, in complete silence not explaining a thing. Sit and watch colors turn from black and white to vibrant blues and greens. I can hear voices but seldom ever see the faces. Sit in silence, not say a world. Staying completely still. Breathing softly and watching the world go by. Watching things I never noticed before, accumulate the dust of time. All those times spent looking toward other things. All the stories I’ve told that make no significance at this moment. All the things I’ve said that no longer make a difference. The longer I remain quiet the less likely people will notice me.

Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe it was always better this way.