Tag Archives: memories

Leaving LA

9 Jul

The process of moving and telling others that I am leaving LA has been a mixed bag of highs and lows.

I am a native Angeleno and I love my city with all its misunderstood and under appreciated idiosyncrasies. I grew up in Boyle Heights near El Tepeyac and Evergreen cemetary. I moved around but always in LA: downtown, Chinatown and a brief stint in the valley.

I’ve experienced so much within one county which includes the large swath of land that is home to 15 million.

I’ve lived the LA of East LA where you naturally fall into the lyrical song of Spanish, the early conversion to cool of Downtown LA, the ridiculous parties and outings that only LA can outlandishly provide, and the quieter and sweeter moments of growing a parent community as a mother.

Every memory of this city remains etched in my mind; from my early years of living on Union by McArthur Park: drive by’s, elderly neighbors who always had hot apple pie, my grandfather handing us a quarter for a bag of pepinos and even the kind LAPD beat officers who handed out baseball cards to us.

Now it’s a golden sunset setting on my rear view mirror.

I drive past the grapevine, by the acrid smell of cows, the rolling hills covered in blankets of wheat and the fruit stands of Gilroy – to land here. Silicon Valley.

I’ve been here less than a week and already I feel the dull ache of a lost one long loved. I sense the need to see the awesome landscape below the hills of City Terrace. I miss the daily reminder of my connection to a city, a place, my memories… I fell the pull.

Los Angeles.

The bad, dark and shallow times we shared remain on my mind. The empty promises linger on the avenue of broken dreams. Not Hollywood. The place where broken dreams go to bury the pain is always darker than the pretense of the avenue of the stars. In the streets of daily living lie the real stories of LA. On Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Whittier Boulevard, Hoover, 41st, 18th, in every single corner that the downtrodden go to blend into the indistinguishable mess of sadness.

Los Angeles. Like a good-looking love that I can’t get rid of, no matter how bad you know they are for you. You cling to me. Days of fear and anger intermingle with days of triumph and evenings spent toasting on rooftops thinking we’ve done it all. I love you.

But for now, we need to take a break. I need space, I need time, I need a place to lay my head and make a mark before I come back to you. To you I toast, dear city of mine.

Ciudad mia, adoracion de mi corazon, dame tiempo y paciencia y con los aires de la suerte llegare a tu lado de nuevo.

Until then dear LA, find someone else to claw your heartless charms into. I need a break.

On the Fast Lane with the SuperFlyingMonkeys

28 May

giants
Life moves quickly when you have two flying monkeys by your side.

Santa Monica called for work. I drove to Main Street for a work event with SiliconBeachLA. Smiling, chatter buzzing over mojitos, beer and sliders. Tech tech tech. Drinks and introductions, Connections – Stimulating.

A reminder that I am making the right choice in moving to Silicon Valley this summer. Excited.

All networking events must end and this one did with the avoidance of a marriage proposal. That must have been the most progressive and increasingly creepy pick up line I have ever heard.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Susana. Hmmm. Susana, it’s a pleasure. What do you do?”
“Marketing. For law firms.”
“Do you know social media? Yes? I need a social media manager. I need a co-founder. Do you want to be my co-founder?”
“Thank you but I am relocating to the bay area.”
“Really? Where? I like the bay area. I could live in the bay area. I’ve been to Tiburon. Have you been there? Yes? I could live there. We could live in the bay area.”
“Good meeting you but I was just leaving.”
“You have my card. Hmmm. Susana. Such a pleasure. Call me, we need to work together. I’m from Sydney. You’ve been to Sydney? Would you..”
“Goodnight, good meeting you.”

As I quickly scrambled out the door averting one of the more bizarre first time interactions with another human being, I looked forward to my escape up north. I drove to Boyle Heights and spent the remainder of the evening with my parents and family, celebrating my father’s 62nd birthday.

Saturday, 5AM. We are piled into the Honda, filling up the tank with gas.

You can do anything in LA as long as you have a full tank of gas. I will miss that feeling. Completely freeing; to roam a sprawled city intersected by freeways, back roads, and hiking trails full of lululemon.

I placed my two 16 oz. Red Bull drinks on the center divider, covered the girls in their blanket, tuned into KZRW and looked forward to a promise of opportunity as I rolled onto the I-5 North.

Podcasts about India’s marriage and matchmaking trends, sourcing food, and music swirl around the car around me blending into the highway’s hum. Auto cruise.

Two hours. Two and half. Two and 42 minutes go by.

KZRW is long gone – faded into the majestic mountains before the grapevine that block all internet reception. 70 miles. 75. 80. Rolling along en mass.

The air is thick with cow dung flung onto the earth by the huddled, crowded mammals that reek of sickness and death. I hold my breath and shut off the AC. It seeps into my car and takes hold of my nostrils, curling into my breath and wrapping around my gagging throat.

I call my love. His cheerful voice full of excitement takes me away from the I-5N and the dead grass with dark nauseating earth. It blocks out the cows that eat what the others digest. Recurring. I won’t be eating meat for a while.

We plan and together count down the hours of our arrival. Together never sounded sweeter.

Spotify saves the day and my hours quickly fall away until I see the 101 N to San Jose and the exit to Palo Alto. I drive up under the big tree and wake the girls so we can run up the stairs together. Together, always, it has never felt so good.

We stretch and hug and kiss and smile. And out the door we go to downtown Palo Alto. Thai food at Siam Royal for a lunch of yellow curry, Pad sew eew, and tofu, only tofu please.

As we walk out I feel my legs leisurely stretch out before me and I realize I am home. With him by my side, flanked by the flying monkeys, we are home. We stop at Stanford to frolic in the grass, dance around the fountain, and giggle down the archways.

We get home and nap. A blissful unworried sleep shadowed with sounds of light laughter coming through the window, likes rays of sunlight gently warming my skin. Even the shower that follows feels different. As the water runs down my back so goes with it all the tension from the drive, the residue of LA.

Sushi Fuki for dinner. Rolls and nigiri and sake. And smiling girls across me. Gently lifting their pieces with chopsticks, deft hands a true sign of LA childhood.

Champagne once home. We are celebrating many things, all things that lead to us, together in life. Dom Perignon treats us well as we cuddle and love life, love our little family.

After my run, I make breakfast tacos with sizzling bacon and egg whites kissing each other with mozzarella. Yogurt for me, the cows have not left me. Oohs and Ahhs over breakfast, followed by scuttling about as we all walk to the local school. Two Flying Monkeys racing along from tree to tree. Like Santa Claus he strides forth with a sack over his shoulder, but these are basketballs. Layups. Free throw line, base line, back board, rim, start low and carry through – in the wrist. Chest pass. Two on Two. I’ve never felt such admiration for patience and happiness. Basketball drills, who knew?

On the road again but as one. To SF for the Giants. Freezing in our seats we play a game you think of to ease the focus on the chilly weather and bring to light the joy and wonder of life. You breathe in new life into baseball, already a passion, you make it magical.

We shower, we prim, we aim to impress as we make our way to Madera for dinner. The view is amazing. Rolling fog over the hills, enchanting grounds at our feet, and smiling faces all around me. Over wine and seared tuna he dazzles. He charms and he loves and I memorize every minute.

At home over movies all four of us sit close – an entanglement of wonderful cuddling.

In the morning we rise and smile. Off to the market today. Camarones, tomates, aguacates, clamato… I love the sounds of Spanish markets. Mi Piquito de Oro by Ramon Ayala playing in the background as we check out. The musical goodbye of the cash register lingering long after we walk out the door.

At home we cook and we sit. We dance and we sing. We play Loteria and roll our R’s and silence our T’s and laugh. Rich and deep laughter that fills my soul and carries me through. We sit by the low tables and eat our cebiche and talk the language of happiness.

The morning turns afternoon well into the evening and night beckons us to bed for dreams of tomorrow, our tomorrow together. Even the gray following morning that feeds the hurt in my chest doesn’t diminish the gift of today. I woke by your side, in your arms and you loved me as I love you.

Miles away now but with me, I carry you, together, never sweeter, never felt so good.

Shining Eyes, Burning Bright

11 Mar

I look around the room
Seeing smiles

I feel warm laughter
bathing me in
glorious luxury

Moments of spontaneous humor
Bursting fits of disengaged silly laughter

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unexpected love

Walking in a dance of contorting limbs
body moving back and forth
trying
to cap the exulted happiness that bubbles up from deep within
Head back – melodious music – flowing out to the sky

Falling back onto my bare shoulders
tickling me
with sprinkles of kindness

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in reciprocated love

Holding hands
walking in unison
down a pillow-y pathway
of carefree embrace

Daylight outside
slowly receding
to a muted evening
giving way to the inner guide
of jubilant light

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in honored love

Everyone else melts away
Except
their kind smiles
follow us everywhere

Giddily joining us
in our quest for frozen yogurt
Eagerly following us
with dancing eyes
as we sing out an inside joke

In step
we fall
souls to match
walking down LA streets

Night greets us
In a sweet sleep
I lay my head

Waking to see you still here
by my side
Caressing my hair

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unmeasured love

Moments with you

21 Jan

I brush my mascara on
Look up and see you
Smiling and dancing towards me

Your smile mirrors mine

I follow your gaze
An inch away from me
My skin burns for your touch

I slip my dress over my head
Hurry onto my heels
Flip my hair over and look my best for you

Your smile mirrors mine

You dance closer to me
Captivate me
Suspend me in time

You bend over me
as you lead me
on a slow dance

Your smile mirrors mine

In the car
Holding hands to sweet melodies
The city lights our candlelight

In the parking lot
kissing me as we clamber out
to the night
full of laughter

And your smile mirrors mine

Dance the night away
the band is out
and we run back to
Late nights over King Taco

Sipping and swaying to the whiskey
In our home
Barefoot and dancing

And your smile mirrors mine

Moving Forward

20 Jan

How do you balance your own dreams and ambitions with those of the collective good? The collective good being: your family, your people, and for those so inclined, society as a whole. How do you balance any dreams with the reality of a failed attempt? How do you move forward when life seems stalled or worse yet muted?

When I was a kid I thought anything was possible. I was living in low standards (in quality of life, expectations, and interaction) that I drew up my own world of existence. When I try to recall memories, many of them are of me just sitting, lying, standing – alone, lost in thought. A loud buzzing is in my ears as I lose track of time and wake from my fantasy to find that hours and sometimes only seconds have passed.

The hours spent dreaming were my escape from my life. My time spent reading and writing were a respite from admitting where/when I was living.

And in these dreams with limitless skies I saw myself as an attorney, as a businesswoman, as an inventor – with an empire that would spread its wings in Boyle Heights and provide a higher quality of life to its residents: to teenage moms, to boys on the cusp of being lost to drugs/gangs/apathy, to immigrant parents providing for a better life. I dreamt of a world where I wrote my way to the top, sharing my stories, and then my profits to this community. Buying a beautiful house for my parents and siblings; making enough money so my parents could stop their backbreaking work; financing the education of my siblings so they could escape the soul crunching cycle of poverty; realizing these goals would make me happy I thought.

Yet along the way my heart wasn’t strong enough, my mind became weaker, and I dreamt longer and longer. My escape became a necessity and I would lose track of time, lose track of my goals and ambitions, until I just lived. I breathed, I ate, I woke and I slept. I loved with an immature sense of what this meant or what it would bring.

And those goals became silly notions meant for another. My self-questioning became louder, a feverish pitch of self-doubt that drowned out any positive thoughts and immobilized my inner sense of worth.

A failed marriage, an unaccomplished degree, and single motherhood at 23.

It seemed the only dream I had “accomplished” which I couldn’t even take credit for was growing into an attractive woman. As a child, I had wished daily to be beautiful, graceful, to possess the ease of human interaction – the ability to connect and feel with others, but this desire was misguided as I did not know the difference between healthy and unhealthy connections in relationships.

I was in a downward spiral that was quickly finding its way to the bottom. I had no sense of where I could go from there, of what life meant anymore if not my definition of a perfect loveable family.

But with pain, failure, and darkness comes revelation. You cannot hide from yourself when all that is left is you.

So I took the shreds of my motivation and began a painstakingly slow mending process. I recognized my faults, which were many, and realized that no matter how sympathetic a past I had, it did not constitute an excuse for where I had landed.

And 5 years later you find me here, full of life.

I didn’t give up on life. I placed one foot in front of the other and though I had many missteps, I keep walking forward. And I feel a sense of pride in my life; I have two young daughters that grow lovelier every day, I have a career that I enjoy and brings me a sense of fulfillment, and I am ready to go back to my restarting those childhood dreams – even if that only means coloring the life of my loved ones with my happiness.

We can spend days philosophizing about what true happiness means and what we need to possess it. We can spend an equal amount of time debating whether the singular task of making ourselves happy contributes to the improved happiness of the collective; I believe that it does. By being a happy mother, daughter, sister, friend, and partner I am bringing that positivity into the lives of those connected to me. By sharing my stories, I hope you feel the hope that has carried me through daily and how this hope has changed as I have gotten older. I once thought happiness would come when I married and had children, a family to love me and receive my love.

But I learned that you can’t smother the darkness, you can’t swallow the bitter memories, you can’t hide from the gray that is nestled inside you and lures you into endless sleep; you have to face it in order to bring a sense of peace and happiness into your own being.

Imagine that you are in your dark hole, surrounded by darkness that eats at your perceived happiness away, that chips at your will to live, that hammers you down when you try to move forward, that suffocates you when you try to take a breath of hopeful air. You are left slumped on the ground choking on the hurt, the pain is so strong it keeps you pinned to the floor and no matter how hard you try to ignore it; the ringing in your ears makes it impossible for you to function at a higher level than mere existence. It becomes a sub existence and time passes by, passing you by.

But there is a ladder amongst this darkness. Barely visible at first but you feel it with your hands as you wander around unrelenting in your desire to escape. Each rung on that ladder brings you a different memory – a painful shameful moment in your life; and in order to move past a rung you have to come to terms with it and the implications it has caused in your life.

If you were abused, you need to know that you did nothing to invite this undeserved attack onto yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. You do not have something in you that can elicit this behavior in others toward you. You may have been repeatedly abused, by many, but you need to realize that it is not your fault. You were a victim but over time and with a lot of work you can heal and stop living like one.

Whatever hard reality was or is your life you have two choices, same as anyone else; climb the ladder or cower in the false safety of your known darkness. Don’t beat yourself up for decisions and choices you made, even if you ended up hurting others. You have to learn to forgive yourself and push forward. If you don’t, your “reality” (your self-inflicted continuation of that twisted world) will always remain your captor.

I’m not credentialed to tell you how to get better, I can only share what I have gone through and have done to get to a better place. One thing I can tell you, when you climb high enough up that ladder, you will savor the ease with which you keep climbing and you will begin to shed your old tattered self and embrace the new stronger, happier, and more productive self.

I am not at the top of the ladder; I don’t know what I will find when I get there. But I do know that I am relishing the journey upward and that I am improving this world a little with my own sunshine brightening this beautiful new day.

Runaway

18 Dec

Oh I try to stay away
in my own quiet darkness
I plot 
To runaway

It’s too good
Too kind
Too normal to be real

Isn’t it sad?

I can’t accept that I deserve this
Or at the very least 
Accept that I don’t deserve
constant pain

It’s all so very bleak inside
The cobwebs that linger in the corner
They remind me of those years

Clinging to me
They refuse to disappear

It’s all so hideous
So very sad

Don’t you see?
Isn’t it clear?
Runaway

Let me be
So much easier to bear this pain
Neatly tucked behind the smile of a promise
That the year end is near

Year after Year
The end is near

Why don’t you just
Runaway?

 

Drinking Whiskey… on Your Lap

30 Nov

Love seems like an easy thing 
when I sit on your lap
drinking whiskey

Love seems like a story to unfold
As you hold me close
Comb your hair

Look in your eyes
and I see your love for me
Your love for me…

Over whiskey

On your Lap

Love seems like a joy to behold
As you touch me
As you want me

Time stands still
when I sit on your lap
Drinking Whiskey

Telling Stories
Moments to be had
After dinner and drinks
At 2 AM

Drinking Whiskey

On your lap

Love is hard to contain as you lead me
To your arms
Hold me close

Stories to be told
At 2 AM

Over Whiskey

On your lap

Whispers of Sadness: Echo of Love Always with me

30 Nov

My heart pushes against my chest
To rejoin you
Belong to you

Our moments together
Tenderly sweet
Leave an intense ache
In your absence

I miss your eyes
Drinking me in
Your smile that always meets mine
when I turn to you, To admire you

You, So kind
Generously loving and unmeasured with your affection

Every gaze makes love to me
An electric response to every caress

I feel you inside me
In my soul
when you hold my hand
When you see me
All of me

Such kindness
I will never tarnish
this love
the trust you have in me

I have been honest and open
about my past
Yet you see
only the good, the strength
of every moment

You inspire me
To be better, To be more
To deserve this gift that I never want to lose

When I see you dance

18 Oct

I was tempted to write this in Spanish as it seems to flow out of me more in my native language.  Funny how whenever I think of my happy childhood memories, I think of them in Spanish.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I see the two of you dance, I feel suspended into an ageless bubble of warmth and comfort.  I am a little girl of 5, a teenager of 13, and a woman of 28.

At family parties, after tiring myself out from dancing, chasing my cousins at “tag”, breaking the pinata, and happily having my fill of carne asada and soda, I would sit down exhausted on a metal fold out chair.  Heaving and puffing from my latest bout of running, I could catch small snippets of my own perfume of sweat, happiness, and birthday cake icing wafting up my nose.  I wiped my bangs off my face and rested my bright red cheeks on my shoulders as I caught sight of the two of you.
The strange sadness of Ramon Ayala’s “Mi Piquito De Oro” would pierce the night and your heart with its sad low crooning of his voice and accordion maneuvers.  It would unfailingly prompt some deeply hidden feeling in my fathers chest to push itself forward and lift him off his seat and set his beer aside to walk towards you and ask you to dance.  Your entire demeanor would soften and you would revert into that young woman being courted.  You would elegantly offer your outstretched hand with nothing but the out most regal grace, and comply to his request.  I knew of the eagerness that filled your chest, of the hope and love sparked anew, but you hid it as you walked with him towards the dance floor.  Only when you were in his arms, your face and expression veiled from his eyes, did you allow yourself to relax into a young girl in love.
That sweet smile that curled your lips into a perky pout became more charming by the softness in your eyes.  Your head resting so lovingly on his chest and the swaying of your hips to his rhythm captivated my imagination.
I sighed and my eyes danced alongside the two of you.  Everyone else would disappear into edges of a dream as the two of your would waltz your way around the room.  Faster and faster until the music would reinvigorate his limbs and inspire his two left feet to keep up with you as he spun you around until you giggled in his ear.  You held him tightly and he leaned over you protectively and I stared, unblinking, to tattoo this image into memory.
I remember the times when I would inevitably fall asleep curled up on a chair and Mi Papi would come over to carry me to the car.  The cold air would pierce my dreams as he scooped me up but I would pretend to keep sleeping so the two of you would remain sweet to each other say sweet loving remarks about your Chuchi.
In the car, the steady hum and bouncing on the road made it difficult for me to keep pretending at sleeping but I shut my eyes tightly and listened in reverie at your calm conversation, peeking every now and then to spy the two of you holding hands, kissing each others neck, and erasing the anger and tension that usually prevailed.
I would lay in bed in my party dress and white stockings, blackened at the feet from running on the grass and ground, and fall into a deep sleep of hope and peace.

You’ll stay with me right?

9 Nov

He is on his knees, tears running down his brown leathery face – his cheeks sagging under the weight of booze and pain. I’m walking out the door with a black trash bag holding my most prized belongings: a brown teddy bear, a purple My Little Pony, and broken pieces of plastic that are my toys. I see my mother opening the door to our beat up blue station wagon and my sister already down the porch steps.

An incredible pain takes residence in my tummy, spreading up to my chest – making it hard to breathe.

“Susy, mi Pozolito, tu no me vas a dejar verdad? Me prometiste que tu te hibas a quedar conmigo.”

I look down at my scuffed shoes and step down hard on my big toe preferring physical pain to seeing my father – that big tall figure who never cries – lose all self control as he drapes his body onto my little frame.

I bite my lip and look outside into the darkness, the cold numbing my hands and legs. I wring the edge of my Scooby Doo pajama dress; the thin material wrinkles and curls into place.

“Vamonos Susana! Apurale!” My mother yells at me from the car.

They had been at it again; always the fighting, the endless yelling of abuse and cursing. I can’t remember why my mother was angry; dad had probably staggered home again from a bar or had insulted her in his alcohol induced stupor.

“Ya no puedo mas!” My mother was on the phone with her brother, asking if we could stay with them but I could tell from her face that we would be roaming the city in our car again. Cramming our belongings and bodies in the backseat to keep warm from the chilly winter air. “Carnala, yo no me puedo meter. Quedate con Yani.”

“Vayan y agarren sus cosas!” She yells at us, thrusting a trash bag to my sister and I. Her voice becoming shrill as her sanity wears thin.

We knew the routine. Instead of packing clothing and necessities, we packed what four and five year olds see as essential: our dearest toys. We ran to the room we shared with our parents and started to pack.

My father pleaded with my mom not to leave and when her tear-streaked face would not meet his he turned to my older sister to ask her; she just kept packing. He ran to me and kneeling down to look into my bewildered eyes he asks if his pozolito would stay with him. “It’s okay Papi, yo me quedo contigo,” I say, anything to keep my papi from crying.

“Vamonos!” My mother pulls me out of my tortured state and drags me to the car only to cause the pain of seeing my father’s face as I leave to sear into my brain forever. “Papi”, I whimper as the smell of old leather, burnt oil, and snot make me gasp for air.

My mother is crying hysterically in the front seat behind the wheel. Her yelps of pain becoming jagged knives that stab my stomach; like broken glass they shatter throughout the car and I want to pick them up and devour them – chew on the glass until it slices my tongue into ribbons and the blood flows out. Until the anger and confusion are drained from my body and I become a spirit hovering over everyone. Until I turn into nothing, light as air, and the voices stop screaming and crashing inside my head.

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Zack Hunter | Phenomenological Fiction

Zack Hunter is the pseudonym of a Californian poet, author, artist, musician, and researcher. He lives on a farm and spends his free time reading and writing about whatever it is he is passionate about at the time.

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