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.

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.

New Year’s Blues

What is it about a new year that makes everyone think that they have to completely redo their lives? Is it just the post-holiday depression thing that makes everyone look at what they have and decide that it’s not enough? I’m sure that some psychologist somewhere has a really good, completely believable theory on this.

Whatever it is, my friends have all decided to go on diets, to swear off men or women or, in some cases, both. They have decided that clean living is the only way to go and alcohol and caffeine and late nights are all of a sudden no-nos.

Am I the only sane person left? I will not diet, I will not change my living habits and if people don’t like me by now they never will. Oh well, the good thing about new year’s resolutions is that they only last about a month or so. Until then, I’ll sulk silently and put up with it.


I am inspired, I am awed and truly humbled by the latest post by Malinchista’s Susana Gallardo:

“damn, i hate ragging on other chicanos, it’s such a waste of energy on both our parts. but that’s what nationalism does….you worry so much about what’s a “real chicano” that you end up 1) spending all your time calling people vendido or malinche because they don’t measure up to whatever bogus standards you set, and 2) wasting all your time fighting with the very people you need to work with/educate/listen to/learn from.”

I am tired of having to defend myself, my fluff, my writing, my views, my existence and personality to people who have never bothered to look past their narrow view of me to see what’s really there. I am what I am. I am strong and passionate and vocal and occasionally wrong and occasionally right and defensive and short-tempered and alive and loving and stubborn and permanent. I am not going away. My views are not unique to me. My personality is not a personal insult. And you are not going to get an apology from me just because you don’t agree with me. Accept me and work with me or get over it and move on.

Happy Thanksgiving

I don’t really think of Thanksgiving as a holiday. Not a real one anyway. It’s like Halloween or Valentine’s Day, something you celebrate but don’t exactly know why. Something that happens but you can’t really explain. Something that doesn’t affect you one way or the other. As a Chicana, I have a weird relationship with Thanksgiving. It’s not really part of my history, but it is part of the history of the country I call mine. So, while I acknowledge and appreciate the horrors that founded this country and the irony of calling the day “Giving Thanks,” I do still celebrate it. And that’s more due to the party aspect of it than to the original idea of the holiday.

Thanksgiving is the one day a year when it’s mandatory to eat more than is socially acceptable. Food becomes the center stage, the star of the day. Families gather for a feast. And everyone tries to outdo everyone else when sitting to go through what’s on his/her plate.

My mother has made turkey on Thanksgiving every year except one. That year she spent the day — the entire week before and after, as a matter of fact — waiting around a hospital room in the Texas Valley. My grandfather had had a stroke and she was visiting him. I made dinner that year. And let me tell you, it’s a whole hell of a lot of work. Ever since then my sisters and I have made all the side dishes and desserts while my mother makes the turkey. We thought it was only fair.

A friend of mine says that her mother hates to make a turkey. She always ends up with a dry bird. Now she makes turkey tamales and that’s what they have every year. That’s not a bad compromise.

Before I go on and on and on with my rambling about who does what on this day, let me just wish all of you a happy holiday. Don’t eat too much, don’t spend all day watching sports, and don’t drink and drive. As long as you do that and try to stop yourself from killing your family you should be fine.

Hasta la próxima, gente!