Ode to Los Angeles

El Mercadito

I woke up today with a craving for the city. In its name the Spaniards once called the small pueblo something related to the angels. As divine intervention would have it, the pueblo grew into a city of mestizos and Americans and its origins boomed into one of the greatest places for cultural diversity. Then when the second World War hit, a young Mexican man served his duty defending civil rights and left to a world unknown. He came back to the United States with his indigenous wife and the two planted the Salas family tree in Los Angeles.

I developed my relationship with this city in the womb. I was born in Garfield Medical Center but was stripped from the urban jungle and taken to the suburbs in the nineties. My father, a baby boomer spawn of the fifties, always took my siblings and I back to where he came from, showing us every different house he lived in and every different memory that came with it. I remember never understanding how large the city was because my father always knew every street corner, every exit and every short cut of the municipality. Los Angeles was etched into the map of his internal system, like every boulevard and avenue were the routes directing his veins throughout his body and every landmark was a functioning organ. I am convinced he can navigate Los Angeles better than he can navigate his iPhone.

Somewhere in between East L.A. and El Monte I first heard the word Chicano. Then I heard it again when I saw Selena for the first time. I was confused, unaware of the differences what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Chicano. Before I knew what an identity crisis was, I was already in it. But the city had so much to tell about both ways of living. Through Los Angeles I discovered cultural roots in Olvera Street and was struck by the burst of colors of ornaments and crafts that brought back faint memories of a trip to Guadalajara in my youth. I learned empathy for immigrants who refresh our definition of diversity and enjoy the fruits of their street vending, literally. Just like my father, I became a sports fanatic of the purple and gold and the boys in blue and just like him I verbally abuse my tv when they play. We became accustomed to carne asada on Saturdays and menudo on Sundays, también always finding time for a chelada on the weekends. I found a happy medium being Chicana-Latina-Hispanic-Mexican-American and an Angeleno in the mix.

Something about Los Angeles’s mysticism calls me; never knowing what it feels to be a true inhabitant of its county lines but always wondering what it has to offer. Once I started working near the city I reached half a goal I set for myself- to work and live in L.A. The commute is just as bad as you imagine but at least my heart has found where ‘X’ marks the spot. When I leave the city parameters and see downtown disappear from a magnificent set of skyscrapers to a object of nothingness in my rearview mirror, I feel dejected and again, I’m sitting alone in traffic.

I’ll admit it, it even upsets me when I meet out of staters that live in the city that I should be living in. Maybe now is not my time, but one day I’ll be there.

Los Angeles, I love you.

Mexican Mother, American Daughter

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Courtesy my cousin Leslie quoting her mom on Facebook

It’s hard to come to an understanding on my personal life when a language and culture barrier still separates my mother and I.

On my end, I want to express my freedom of liberty, sexuality and expression. On her end, she wants me to be her perfect stay-at-home-daughter. I want to travel the world and move out of the house, she wants me to do the chores and run the errands. I want to go out on weekend nights with my friends, she wants me to stay inside and lock me in my room. I want to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, she wants me to regurgitate it back up and wash the dishes.

The complex is: What should a 24 going on 25 year old daughter do when she still lives in her mother’s traditional Mexican household? Do I choose selfishness or do I succumb to prehistoric standards?

I read in Octavio Paz’s Labyrinth of Solitude that the Mexican woman can never be herself as she must play the roles of wife and homemaker. Although he’s speaking to the native born female of the 1950’s, this concept was how my mother was raised throughout the 70’s in Mexico.

She was conditioned to be the perfect household mom. Her schooling was that of my abuelita’s where her and her other nine siblings received lectures of cooking and cleaning. Emigrated by 18, married by 23, first child by 25, my mother’s path was set in stone.

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Courtesy: @undocumedia

As a daughter I carry the same weight of those traditions. Since nothing is more important to me than to make my mom happy, I oblige to most of them. Our sincerest mother-daughter connection even comes from the kitchen when she’s teaching me how to make chile rellenos or bestowing the recipe for my abuelita’s salsa. In the intimate setting of our kitchen our love is wrapped up in a tortilla, served with a side of arroz y frijoles, and shared with nuestra familia.

But in the Mexican Mother, American Daughter complex, our disagreement on her outdated norms bring us to each other’s necks.

 

In light of the growing relationship between my Mexican-American sancho and myself, I’ve had to make the decision whether I want my mom thinking of me as a “bariloca” or “borracha.” Our puppy love between my man and I means that I spend most weekends at his house, MIA at times from the place I call home. Since he was born a male, and I, a female, our star crossed love was doomed from the start.

The head of my house, Guadalupe “Lupita” Maria Tamayo Cruiel, Ruler of Rules,

IMG_8063.jpgGiver of Life, deems that her middle born child has no need for boys. So I, being the middle child that I am, will make up excuses and say I’m spending the night at a friend’s house. In return, she thinks I’m out partying every weekend when really I’m just watching Netflix with my sancho.

So after spending a few nights here and there in a bed other than mine, my Mexican mom has blessed her American daughter with angry voicemails on her phone.

Another fixation I have is in regards to the Mexican-American-Sancho’s-Parents and the Mexican-American-Sancho’s-Lover (me). Why is that when I stay the night at my significant other’s family house, the parents are so welcoming to bring me in? Does this only happen in Latino households? Are we viewed as the one to settle their son down? Now that I’m 3 for 3 on the subject, I’m also still wondering why I can’t even bring a boyfriend into my room.

I guess this is a topic of discussion for another time. Until then, as my mom would say, “Pónganse a limpiar!”