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On her first day of summer, Big J drew a 5’x5’ table of the 30 colleges she plans to apply for in the fall.Since I came into the girl’s life almost 8 years ago as their Ama, I have been … Continue reading
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dedicated to http://lettersfromdreamland.tumblr.com/ 1.When you’re raising two young Chicana teenage girls to be independent, creative, artistic, well rounded, and fashion forward people- BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL NEVER HAVE MATCHING SOCKS! 2. When you’re raising two young Chicana teenage … Continue reading
Last Call, an excerpt from Empanada: a lesbiana story en probaditas
RELEASE DATE: SEPT. 16, 2011
Ruby probably served me one too many drinks because she knew my garage apartment was one block south of here and I’d more than likely stick with them after closing for our usual three am Mr. Taco feast. I barely saw you across the room; but in the corner of that dimly lit bar the jeweled details of your tejana shirt reflected off the three-colored light fixture pointing towards the dance floor. What were you doing there? Wasn’t it too late for you to be away from home? The smell of forty-year-old throw up should have been enough to keep you out of this old bar. I always felt like I was standing under the exit sign at one of those weddings in a catholic school gym, like the one your prima’s daughter threw just recently in San Benito. It smelled the same there, like sweat, old cigarettes and beer mixed together. The music was the same and the color and density of the fog in the air was the same. Hats and tight jeans were dancing cheek to cheek just the same.
Tejana dyke night at the barbrought me the closest to feeling like all of me: lesbian and chicana. But after a long night, I always drove back to my apartment alone, crying the way I cried when I backed out of your driveway for the last time, leaving home. You found out my lips kissed your friend’s daughter’s lips from a phone call. You said I could spend the night over there to study. And, we were studying at first but then we kissed and her mom walked in. After you hung up the phone the next morning you looked through me like I wasn’t there. I got the hint and got myself out of there, out the backdoor, out of the driveway and to the bar.
In between drinks I saw you at my home, my bar. You weren’t wearing what I imagined you’d be wearing. I was used to seeing you in Sunday, church-spring colors and flowy material. At the bar that night, you went beyond my expectations by not only joining me here but by also dressing the part in dark jeans, botas picudos and a pressed shirt. Do you remember when you used to take me to your friend’s baby showers and barbeques? I would dress in pastel colors and linen to please you. I guess you realized how important it was to return the favor. Thank you.
At the tejana bar it was hard to see the details of your shape because of the thick smoke soaked air, but it was easy to hear your rumbling heartbeat because it pumped at the same speed and volume as mine, through the jumbled wiry ritmo of the dj jams.
Pairs of girls, one small and round, the other tall and slim, in one another’s arms stepped on, passed you with one step, then another, brushed briskly against the floor, a third step, and again, over and over. Neither you nor I tired of watching the women dance around the floor in a large circle, following the shuffle of one another’s feet. While I wished the women were you and I dancing in the kitchen like we used to, you were mesmerized by the newness of two mujeres. I understood your curiosity.
I raised my short glass of undressed tres hermanas tequila, took a slow sip and choked at the sight of a girly-girl tejana ass crookedly swing by, all alone. If you wouldn’t have been there, I’d chase after her myself, but that night you were the one I had my eye on.
I would’ve enjoyed you much better closer on the stool beside me. Instead, I talked to you telepathically, tapping my leg to the beat, but you didn’t get the hint and come over. With your face behind the smoke I tried to pick out your heartbeat between accordion chords, soft steps and smooth glides of the dancers parading in front of me, but I picked up my own heartbeat instead, beating faster than the song and the steps, faster than both rhythms combined. The overlapping of dancers covered you. My right palm was sweating and my left one could hardly hold my drink. I tried to see you, squinted my eyes, bobbed my head around, between the small space of their legs or under their arm during a turn but only was able to make out the milky white of your cheekbone, high and thin. Even when I thought I could see you, you were not there and it became hard to believe the smoke was the only thing blocking my view to you. Did you have any idea I was there? I saw you fan the landscape with your eyes, searching. That bar was the last place I wanted to be seen by you, mamí. I go to the Silver Dollar Bar on Main. St., to combine my worlds, my worlds of Tejana and Lesbiana. I imagined what I would say if I could go up to you, “Here, I do what I couldn’t do at Ninfa’s wedding last summer when you watched me closely to make sure I didn’t reveal any hints of my girlfriend and gay friends back home.” Why were you in the corner of this bar trying to combine the two worlds, like I do?
The dance floor spread under us. “Do you want to dance?”
You gave me your hand. The other toddling dancers circled around us, amazed at our kitchen-mastered moves. My chest pressed forward, the way papi normally held you, and my cheek leaned against yours. Your dark-red, wide smile chilled and warmed me. Mouths hung open around us. The sharp women with their hair cut short on the sides and long in the back let go of their women, and held onto their gold and silver buckles hoping you’d please them next with your hand. Your face of many years, legs that have walked and kicked up many miles stirred everyone, including me. The simplicity of your stance, the not so simple lines of your open child bearing hips, your panzita rolled into a perfect bolillo, and the grace of your feet across the dance floor, built your austere body into a more mesmerizing woman who could soar like a bird. I pressed my hand firmly against your back and kept dancing until Ruby yelled out, “last call.”
© Anel I. Flores 2011, All Rights Reserved
When writing my morning pages, blogs, love stories or editing my upcoming ebook Empanada, I always call on my spirit-guides who sit among me, my ancestors, their stories and the delicious pan dulce that awakens all of my senses. Here I celebrate the movement and energia of the story.
A different kind of July 4th with the Familia. Making new memories, remembering old ones. Padre Island, TX
On July 4th, 40 years ago, la tienda de mis Abuelos (food and crafts store) in Mission, TX, burned down. Expectedly, July 4th has not been much of a holiday or “celebrated” memory for my familia. My youngest Tia, says … Continue reading
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Visited the Jewish Community Center’s Holoucaust Exhibit. Both of our girls have Jewish Great Grandparents from Mexico. They wanted to explore their “story.”
When I signed up to teach in San Antonio’s primarily Chicano, inner-city high schools, I didn’t know that part of my teaching responsibilities would involve sponsoring my students’ Quinceñearas every month! Being a sponsor, or Madrina, at their Sweet 15 celebration meant that my name would be included on the opalescent, faux-wedding invitation as long as I financially sponsored some part of the Sweet 15 fiesta. Among the list of things I had to choose from, I learned that being the Madrina de los Zapatos was going to be the most my modest teacher salary could offer. Buying the debutant a pair of $20 Payless pumps, which promised to never see the light of day under the fifteen year-old girl’s oversized faux-wedding dress was my gift to each student who begged me to be their Madrina.
In Adriana Lopez’s anthology, Fifteen Candles, she says , “It doesn’t matter whether you were the only Latino family in town or if your neighborhood grocery had a fully stocked Goya food section, if you lived in the States, a quinceañera party affirmed your Latinoness.”
When I signed up to be an Amma (the maternal title our daughters use for me) one of our girls was freshly 14 and ready for a Quinceñera of her own. Big J stocked her bookshelf with Quinceañeara magazines, a full color scheme of what her 14 Damas (girls) and 14Chambelanes (boys) would wear in the royal court, and even had downloaded on her ipod the Salsa-Merengue-Cumbia-Hip Hop-Reggaeton Melody she planned to dance to. Baby K, who had five years to plan, was also learning what was to come for her Sweet 15. Our weekends were filled with visiting the Pulga (Mexican Flea-Market) in search for the perfect color of yellow taffeta Dama Dresses and Chambelan bow-ties, vests and cumber-buns. Also, we rummaged through various puestos where Mexican vendors sold varieties of home-made pastel-colored centerpieces mounted on mirrors, made of lace, glitter, plastic flowers glistening with acrylic water droplets on their petals, and obnoxiously sequined tiaras. Not only were we looking at purchasing Big J’s Payless pumps but Erika and I were about to embark on planning what started to feel like a mini-wedding! Our opinions of the Quinceañera started to evolve into something else as our wallets began to look smaller and and so did our budgets for the upcoming year. “Quincelandia” might not be all it was cracked up to be. (Adriana Lopez).
One evening, I told Big J that according to tradition, “the Quince rite of passage means you will be ready for motherhood!” The look on her face was priceless as her beautiful brown eyes almost popped out her her head. Her opinion of the traditionalQuinceañera quickly changed. In as far as her eyes could see, her future was a college dorm room and vacations around the world. Big J was not ready to be a mother and I was barely just becoming one after 30! Our non-traditional Lesbian home would soon be creating a new Quince tradition.
After a few family platicas, Erika, Big J, Baby K and I decided that La Quinceañera would trade her over-puffed dress and pastel pumps for a visit to New York City and most importantly the New York Public Library, which I told her had one of the largest book collections in the whole world. Big J reads almost two novels a week and loves all things antique and old. The quiet and dimly lit elegance of the NYPL would replace the elegance she once felt would be present at her “traditional” Quinceañera.
It is true that as a Lesbiana Amma and Mamì, we are creating our own family traditions and rites of passages. Instead of getting pregnant with a baby at 15, I can definitely say that Big J became impregnated with a larger view of the world and its opportunities available to her. Not only did we go to the breathtaking shelves of the NYPL, we ate cheesecake each night in Little Italy, visited several bookstores, NYU, CUNY, the Museum of Modern Art , and went ice skating in Central Park, but we did it all for as little as the price of renting out a dance hall on the Southside of San Anto!
On our last evening in New York City, Big J walked about 30 paces ahead of us down the escalator into the Metro station. I saw in her step a heavier stance, in her shoulders a higher posture, and in her movement a beautiful grace. WIthout our guidance, she confidently boarded the train and for a moment I imagined her walking down the church isle in the huge white dress she had her eye on when she was still planning the Quinceañera party. The little mirage quickly dissolved and there she was again, a young woman in her trendy skinny jeans and converse walking down the isle of the world. We are happy with our new Quinceañera traditions and our lovely daughter.
Little K is planning her Quinceañera trip for 2014! Vacation!