Y Hace Frio...
Happy Birthday, Pops
Published on LatinoLA: January 27, 2006
Everything hurts. I started off today quite well. My throat was hurting just a bit, but nothing to really complain about. As the day rolled through, I felt myself getting worse and worse. My tonsils became so swollen I could feel them filling up the back of my throat. I walked out of my office and felt a whip of cold, cold air. Climbed into my dad's truck, as I'm lacking transportation at the moment, and he looked at me like when I was in high school and he'd pick me up from school. Concerned about the fact that I just had to walk a few feet in the cold wind to get to his truck. Oh, if he only knew.
My dad was a gardener. Cleaned up rich people's houses in the west valley. Sometimes when I was on vacation, I'd convince him to let me go with him, just because I wanted to feel like I could work as hard as he did. The rich old ladies would talk to me as if I had the mental capacity of a gopher... "tell your daaaaddy that I would liiike paaansiees... pansies, you understand?" Yeah lady, I understood well enough that no matter how many flippin' pansies my dad planted in your overpriced piece of property, you'd still be "la de los gatos," a woman with so many cats, her own human ways were becoming awkward and even scarce. We'll plant your damn pansies.
Thing with me is that I spent so much time with my parents when I was a kid, I wasn't really sure how to interact with other kids. So by the time I reached junior high, the creepy pubescent phase became almost too unbearable for me. I didn't know how to speak, how to sit, how to walk. A lot of my friends were second or third generation kids who isolated themselves from the "paisas" on the "ESL" side of the campus. Little by little, the whole idea of having my dad being a gardener became a little more embarrassing because all Mexican men were gardeners, and they became the butt of many jokes. I started to ask my dad to drop me off on the corner and I'd run across the street because I didn't want it to be so apparent that I was getting off the truck with the lawn mowers in the back. Well it continued this way for some time. I wasn't exactly fitting in as it was. I was the odd girl whose teacher gave her 1984 to read in 6th grade. Who would look for patterns in the oil stains on the floor. This was junior high.
In 1993, students at UCLA were having a hunger strike to bring an official Chicano Studies curriculum to the campus. I was 13 years old at the time, bored, apathetic, being the odd ball for the sake of being an odd ball. So I stood on the campus because my sister's boyfriend at the time decided to take me that day. I wasn't fully comprehending what was going on, and I couldn't understand why people were starving themselves for books. So while my sister and her boyfriend frolicked off into the library, I stood there and listened until my lips were chapped and my head began to throb. When they came back, I declared that I was supporting the hunger strikers. They laughed... not sure if they thought it was cute or actually funny. A reporter came up to me, I suppose because I was one of the only 13 year olds at the rally and asked why I was there. Well, what do I say "I was bored, had nothing better to do, came to sit under a tree." Nah. So I said, in my most eager 13 year old voice possible "I'm here because I want to come to UCLA, and when I get here, I want to continue to be a part of this, I want it here waiting for me." (Note: it was in fact waiting for me, and I was pretty resistant to it at first, couldn't go back on my word.) Well, at the time, it was just a bunch of bullshit. So I went home and told my parents about it. They seemed only slightly amused, probably because the history those people were fighting for wasn't history to them, it was life.
It took me a few days, but I finally asked my dad to drop me off in the front of school and gave him a kiss after he gave me two dollars for lunch. Two dollars, thinking back, was probably how much my dad made every time that old cat lady talked to him as if he was a gopher. And here I was spending it on cornuts, coke and some pixie sticks. The more I thought about what happened that day, and the more I thought of my dad at work, the angrier I got. How to deal.... well here I am.
Today my dad picked me up from work and I was feeling horrible. He looked at me and said "hace mucho frio eh?" Yeah pop, it's cold alright. He's always so concerned about me, about the family, about the future, about the cold, about the heat, about the sun and the moon one day dying out and not shedding any light for us to walk by. I can't imagine how much more concerned he'd be if he knew of me. Of what becomes of an awkward girl that reads oil stains on the floor. Of my ups and downs and vertical climbs through jungle vines and man-eating lotuses. My pop is the dimension that exists between my knees and my heels. He exists there, to remind me that it's cold and it's not just me. My pop is the shining metaphysical dimension of the palms of my feet waiting for the sun to die so he can light my way.
By the time I walked into the house I could barely feel my arms and my back was finding its way into knots. Made my way into my bed and started slowly tracking my symptoms. I hate the feeling of being sick, of being uncomfortable... but there's something odd that happens when I become a bit feverish, which is what I believe to be happening now. When the temperatures rise, the world peels away and I can play with the stars like a light bright. It's an unhealthy way to get there, but sometimes welcome nonetheless. As you can see dear diary, today I turned off the stars and let my pop remind me which way the world turns. Funny how much memory can come from a simple sentence.
Lu-Si is a struggling human who keeps her thoughts in a jar on her nightstand. Doesn't think she'll get anywhere like that, but they make pretty buzzing sounds. You can email her at: email@example.com