When you live in a tiny teeny apartment you'll do anything you can to make space to welcome his mother home for a visit. I'll warm the comal too, she's never had my homemade tortillas! But, it's not like she hasn't been here before. I could be sad that I'll never physically meet her, or that my love misses her the same way he did when he was 10, or that my family will never meet her, or that our future plans together, as a growing family, will never include her in the photos. It could be so sad that each cut I make into a shape for the altar's papel picado would turn into a small cup of tears. It could've been so sad, if that wasn't when the sadness became something else, magic. At that precise moment is when Mictecacihuatl takes the steering wheel and watches over the body [the body as tierra, earth, or ash] so that the spirit is safe to join us for even a brief moment. That cold chill. That dancing monarch trying to kiss the top of your nose. Some of us consider the tears to always be sad ones. Yet one of the beauties of being gifted a Mexican heart is that we understand that long past the childhood confusion, through the memories, and to heal from the withoutness as an adult we can invite our loved ones back to where we call home. To say hello, catch up, and to celebrate the past and the present, in truth - and a little chisme. We're all lucky that way. And there's enough Mexican heart to go around. And when we've found the love of our life, one of the very first things we do is meet their parents. Good or bad, one way or another. And we share their stories, and we learn while trying to forget, or remember, and build new families, and the circle continues, the way it's continued for thousands of years.
I'm excited to welcome Irene home when she visits us here in the San Fernando Valley, but shhhh - I'll tell her it's the heart of Los Ángeles, home of the Mexican heart...for just a few nights! ;)
THIS essay got me thinking.
My maternal grandmother was born on Santa Catalina Island, raised most of her children in Villa Guerrero and Temastian Jalisco and when she returned to Califas she refused to speak English. My mother carried the burden of Spanish through high school, in a violently unfamiliar but always brown English-only Los Angeles. A reminder to my mom that she was definitely not Mexican-American. Fast (not so far) forward to my birth and childhood, when English forced my mom into becoming a definite Mexican-American, I learned that grandma always understood her grandchildren, something we felt beyond language barriers. As a child I always wondered if it was her stubborn ways, but as an adult I realized she's just the badass matriarch of the familia Ramos.
But where does this leave me, and my pocha ways? With big responsibilities. If English makes us Mexican-American, what are we without Spanish?
Should some of us adopt a Spanish-only rule, I'm pretty sure that I don't have too far to go before I can fairly declare myself Mexican-American. But Spanish first.