Growing up I always loved Christmas – the twinkling lights hanging from the rusty nails hastily tacked over the paint chipped patio that ended up in what looked more like a haphazard zig zag pattern, the decorating of the reliable plastic pre-lit tree that just needed a bit of dusting and re-shaping from being kept in its tattered box from year to year, and ah the food, the glorious food! Freshly made tamales emerging piping hot from the huge stainless steel pot where the chile marinated meat and masa were steamed to perfection. The smell of oregano, guajillo chile, garlic, nixtamal, and beef floating into the air from a huge black and white speckled pot. Piles of buñuelos – handmade fried crisp flour tortillas bathed in a clove and cinnamon scented syrup made from boiling the sweet spices with piloncillo, cone-shaped goodness made from unrefined dark brown sugar from canes grown in Mexico. There’s nothing more blissful than a Mexican kitchen on Christmas Eve, well, at least according to most Mexicans.
Thinking about the wonders of the Christmas Season, I let out a deeper breath than usual as I merged onto the over ramp on the I-25 heading east towards the always beautiful Sandia mountains. Just a couple more destinations and my Xmas shopping list would be complete.
45. The number on my mind as I was trying to figure out how the hell I had arrived at this multiple of 9 or of 5, crap even 15. Where did time go? How did the years accumulate so quickly?
At 45 I was still feeling physically well, beyond well even, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, well that was another matter. 45 and for the record, this would end up being another less than par Christmas sadly so.
As my mind began to fixate on these thoughts, something caught my eye, quickly changing the course of my useless thoughts into something even more dark and brooding, emotions so un-Christmas like.
My gaze now focused on the car in front of me. A rather run down Toyota Corolla, certainly an early 90s model with its now faded forest green color. But, it wasn’t the car that had created the mind shift, it was the couple in the car. Both of us caught in the red, forced to stop and wait for the green signaling our time to turn left. From what I could see, the driver was a twenty something year old Asian man. His passenger, a twenty something Hispanic or maybe young white woman. His movement is what I noticed. The young man was taking off his sweater and as I watched him I was thinking, “Why the heck are you taking off your sweater when it’s freezing outside loco?”
My question soon answered when he took the removed sweater and carefully put it over the young woman’s head. No resistance as she moved her body forward to surely make it easier for him. But it wasn’t solely the sweater transference act that caused the greatest impact.
Immediately after the sweater was wrapped around on the young woman’s torso, he began to gently pat her back, rub her shoulder, and then ever so gently run his hand across the back of her head. Although I was a car length behind, I could see and even feel the care his touch entailed.
I don’t remember the exact moment that I began to cry, but I did. Hot tears streaming down my flushed face as I watched them drive off. This entire gentle and loving act feeling like a slap in my Xicana face. The harsh realization of my own situation resulting in feelings of utter sadness. Grieving over what would surely go down as yet another one of society’s failed marriages.
It took me a few minutes to regain control as I sobbed in my van still idling in the Savers parking lot.
As I wiped off the last of the tears and stared at myself in the visor mirror, I made the decision to force myself to see the young couple’s interaction as a reminder of what love should be like, instead of mourning over long-lost love.
“Everything will be okay,” the words I whispered to myself as I walked towards el pinche Saver’s to try and find at least a couple of good books, returning to the reason why I even found myself in that particular space and time in the first place.
This piece was written last year, but it’s taken me a year to share it.
#lablogadora #xicana #intransition