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.