día de luto

When do you grieve for someone?

Several years ago a friend of mine called me to let me know that Victor had died. He had been my first boyfriend, the guy who took me to senior prom, my ever-loyal enamorado. He was my best friend’s brother in junior high and became my boyfriend when I was 14. It didn’t last long, we broke up over a fight about nothing. I didn’t speak to him for more than a year. When I finally did start talking to him again it was to spite someone else. Not exactly the nicest thing I’ve ever done, but it did make us friends again.

Victor was the guy that hung around me and my friends. I was always very clear with him. But I guess he figured that as long as I didn’t have another boyfriend he still had a chance. And I never did have another boyfriend, at least not while I was in Mexico. And, because I knew he would never misunderstand, I asked him to be my date to prom. I remember that he brought me flowers that day. And I remember that we had a great time. And then I moved away.

My childhood bedroom is filled with tokens of his affection. Little things that my romantic soul couldn’t get rid of. And he remained my enamorado, even going so far as sending me a letter here in Houston asking if there was a chance we might ever get back together. And I never answered the letter.

I heard he got married shortly after that. Four months later, he died in a car accident. And I grieved. I felt so sad, so sorry. I had known him for so long and had nothing but good memories of him. I didn’t even get a chance to go to the funeral.

Yesterday I received another phone call. The other all-consuming male presence in my teenage life, Gabriel, died the day before. Gabriel was my first truly physical relationship. I could look into his beautiful brown eyes and feel irritation, excitement, and friendship. Frequently all at the same time. And I loved it.

Gabriel was the bad boy, the guy I wasn’t supposed to like. He drank, he smoked, he got into fights a lot. He was the guy all the girls wanted. He was nice to me and he made me want to do things that good girls didn’t. And I loved it.

Describing my relationship with Gabriel has always been difficult. We were friends. He was never my boyfriend. It was never anything serious. He respected my personality and loved to argue with me about everything. We liked to spend time together. We got along. And then I moved away.

I grieved for Gabriel 6 years ago when I found out that he had been sent to jail. His sister is married to my uncle and I’ve kept up with him through her. He was caught up in the drug trade in Mexico and was sentenced to 20 years. I can’t imagine being buried alive for 20 years. Having everybody else go on with their lives while yours is stuck in limbo. Even though a part of me wants to say that he knew what he was getting into, a part of me felt very saddened by it. And I grieved for his loss.

I cannot feel the sadness I should right now. He’s dead. D-E-A-D. Why don’t I feel anything but a pale sort of distress? Shouldn’t I be grieving for him now? Or did I do all my grieving when he went to prison? Is it really that simple? I can’t believe that my heart and my mind would have written him out simply because he was behind bars. Or maybe I saw this coming and did my suffering ahead of time.

No matter what the reason, my soul está de luto. The two most important guys in my teenage life — my first loves, I suppose you could say — are gone forever.

sweet surrender

I am a non-practicing Catholic, or at least that’s what I always say. I don’t attend Mass and I don’t really follow the rules of the Church. I do, however, observe the Lenten tradition of giving something up from Ash Wednesday (TODAY) until Easter. Last year I became a vegetarian. This year I’m swearing off sweets. I know that to some that doesn’t sound like too big a deal, but it is. Allow me to point out that that means no chocolate and that I am currently relationship-less (I need chocolate). That means no candies, no birthday cake, no pastel de tres leches, no cheesecake, nothing. In spite of the fact that I have a tremendous sweet tooth, I will and I can survive.

So, if it’s that big a deal, why do I do it? This is my one concession to the traditions my family observes and follows. It’s the one thing I do every year that allows me to restate that while I do not get along with organized religion, I do still believe in God. It’s a statement to myself that there is something bigger than the trivial and not-so-trivial everyday things that I get caught up in all of the time. It’s my act of hope and belief.

Taken in that context, forty days or so of sweet-less existence really doesn’t seem like too big a sacrifice. I’ll let you know how it’s gone when it’s over.

Buena suerte, gente.

I want to be pretty

It sounds trivial and decidedly unfeminist (is that a word?), but it’s the truth. Doesn’t everyone want to be attractive? I want to be pretty in the same way I want to be loved and I want to be happy. Now, I won’t say that I don’t have my good qualities, intellectual and physical. I have my own attraction, and it has little to do with the media-instituted concept of beauty. I’m not saying that I’m gonna go out and diet and act submissive and nice (God, I hate that word!) to be pretty. I’m not saying that I’m going to buy the latest fashions and wear makeup every single time I walk out my front door. That just wouldn’t be me — and it’d drive me nuts after about a day or so.

I guess there’s a part of me that wants to be noticed. There’s a part of me that wants to be desired. Am I proud of that? No. But I’m not ashamed of it either.

I am not going to change. I am, after all, what I have always been. If I do evolve, it’s going to be into something better, not something less. And changing the way that I am in an effort to be pretty would be something less.

Until next time.

red roses, beads and horses

I didn’t get around to watching The Wedding Singer this weekend, but I did read the review by Girls on Film. But what can you expect from a weekend that has my parents’ anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and the first weekend of both Galveston Mardi Gras and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo? Just trying to keep up made me tired.

My parents have been married for 27 years. This year, to celebrate we took them out to dinner to Churrasco’s, an upscale South American cuisine restaurant. It was a family event, which means that not everyone had fun. My sister and her husband were, of course, late. My other sister became exasperated with the fact that no one was ready to order when she was and my Mother decided that she was not going to order for herself. Still, it did go well. And the mere idea that my parents have been together for that long surprises me. I would’ve thought they would’ve killed each other years ago.

On Saturday my sister and I went to Mardi Gras in Galveston. I’ve never been to the one in New Orleans so I can’t compare it. It was a lot of fun. It was utterly ridiculous the lengths to which people would go to get beads. And yeah, that does include me. There’s something about Mardi Gras that’s uninhibiting. You don’t know anyone there, and the people you do know are behaving worse than you, so you get to let your hair down. Anyway, if you haven’t been to Mardi Gras before, you need to go at least once.

Valentine’s Day came and went and I didn’t get a thing. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a thing either, so that worked out fine. And there’s something about the entire holiday that bugs me — I can’t quite describe what it is, but it still bugs me. My little sister got a dozen roses from her ex-boyfriend. She got phone calls from another ex and a maybe. Not bad, not bad at all.

As far as the Rodeo goes, I’ve been in Houston for 6 years now and I’ve never attended. I don’t know why, it’s just that it doesn’t grab my attention. I probably should make an effort just to say that I went. Maybe next year. Talk to you soon.

en eighties film

MERRY MEMORIES . . . the new movie, The Wedding Singer, is coming out (this weekend I think) and boy has it brought a blast from the past. I can remember poofing up my hair to high heaven, with so much aerosol hair spray that I’m sure there’s an environmental group somewhere with my name on their hit list. I can remember when MTV was a new thing and Madonna and Michael Jackson were all the rage. In fact, I remember all of that fondly, as if it were yesterday. And now there’s an era film about the early eighties. An era film! About the time when I was just becoming a teenager! Damn, that makes me feel old!

My baby brother laughs when I say that that was me, dancing to that music, dressing like that, talking like that — but then, he’s only twelve himself and I reminded him that there will be, one day, a movie that will bring out the nostalgia for him too.

I have to go see the movie, not because I’m a fan of Adam Sandler or Drew Barrymore. The movie itself doesn’t even look particularly interesting. I’m going to see how ridiculous the era was. I’m going to go to remind myself that I am an adult and those years are gone. And I’m going to remember all the fun I had because believe me, I had lots.

Talk to all of you soon.