Archive | If This City Could Speak: It would Echo my Pain RSS feed for this section

Memories of a Daughter of Immigrants

2 Oct

My father is an immigrant. He crossed the Mexico/US border as teenager, on his own, to find another life. My father is from a small, rural, town in Mexico. We live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country. The Second Largest City in the Country. His town’s population hovers around 1,000 people. Los Angeles’ population hovers around 3.5million.

Can you even imagine the difference? My high school had a population of 5,500 students. My freshman class, at 1,500 students, was larger than his town’s population. But don’t worry. My senior graduating class magically pared down to half of his town’s population to 500.

I could tell you about MY memories from the first time I visited Mexico, the first time we traveled to his town. But I’d rather not. I’d rather focus on my dad.

Can you imagine being 18 and leaving your town, your state, your country, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, your father, your mother tongue, your culture, your identity, your pride…All behind?

Can you imagine jumping on trains, finding  a way across the desert, finding a way across. Across. A hostile crossing.

Can you imagine –

Rejection,

so Painful that it cuts into your being,

cuts you down.

Every rejection, every categorization, every generalization,

Every Migra Threat.

Fear.

Fear so cold that it freezes your blood on its tracks.

Fear like an ice pick piercing your heart.

Fight or flight.

Can you imagine ignoring both and choosing instead to

Survive.

Keeping your head down. Smiling. Paying taxes. Ignoring condescension.

So that one day you would have children, your own family, and hope to –

dream.

To believe that they could break the chains of fear because they Did Not Belong to

Anyone but America.

America the Free.

Be Free.

And they came, and they came, and they came, and they

Will Continue to Come

whether you care for it or not.

Whether you care for it or not.

They will come. As you did.

And they will borne others like Me.

 

 

I Won’t Tell

2 Oct

I shouldn’t read Maya Angelou books

With a knowing greed
I tear through them waiting
Waiting for the lurid secret revealed

And as I devour the foul thing
my insides expand
and my breathing labors under the weight of it

There’s a pressure from within pressing outward
trying in vain to find release

Who did this to you?
Who did this to you?

I don’t know
I don’t know

I’ve seen blood in my hands before
Who was it?

Writing on top
Clawing
Willing with dead eyed stares

I won’t tell, it won’t help

It won’t ease the howl within me
Always there

As I brush my teeth,
it tried to escape
but I hold it in

It won’t leave me

The pain and emptiness stay until the next time
that my rage and fury unleash
in silent howls within my head

They won’t leave me, I won’t tell

Howling to Emptiness

4 Sep

Aoooooooohhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

I’m howling.

But no one seems to hear.

I’m hurting, but I don’t seem to feel.

Madness.

Self-serving, legitimate action, Stupidity, willful ignorance – who can tell the difference anymore.

When I lashed out in pain at those who had voted for Trump I received admonishments from people who defended their reasoning, defended themselves from being labeled racists, defended themselves as different. They were just ready for a different administration they said. And with reticence I tried to listen, I tried to empathize, I tried to understand.

Only to realize that I was listening to no one.

Because they have nothing to say.

There is no one there.

There are only echos that ricochet off well-meaning deaf walls that were constructed long ago.  And those walls will remain standing long after the truth comes raining down. A glaringly obvious acid rain that will be hard to ignore. That rain has come and gone and those echoes remain. I am not racist. Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.

That may be true to a certain extent because can a hollow being with no substance truly be anything but an echo?

Ricocheting hate.

Ricocheting pain.

Ricocheting ignorance.

Aooooooooohhhhhhhhh!

I’m howling.

And you hear.

But you won’t listen.

 

LA: The smell of urine feels a lot like Nostalgia

30 Jul

The intense smell of urine shoots up my nose
paralyzing my senses
Flinching, I look down
the cracked sidewalk is a patchwork of black gum pounded into the pavement
smeared brown outlines of footprints
and cracks that swallow stilettos

I can see why visitors may be turned off
why they may see the hustle on street corners
the homeless slumped on the side of the building
and think
Why would anyone live here?!

I continue down Spring Street
soy latte in hand
expertly made in Spring for Coffee
and look up

I absorb the energy of parents pushing kids in their strollers
Hipsters mulling over a trip to Joshua tree
someone out for their morning jog
and old man on a walker asking for directions

I take a deep breath and exhale a loud sigh
which surprises the woman next to me
on her way to work
I smile sheepishly
and she returns the smile as she crosses the street

I sip on my coffee
as I now smile at everyone walking towards me
Not a large smile
Just a nice face saying
Good day

The Spring Arcade building has changed dramatically since I last visited
a large outpost of Guisados commanding great real estate
two artisan bakeries
A juicery
and the same ugly yellow paint on the walls
Some things never change, even when you want them to

I walk back to the office
sticky with sweat
but full of hope

This place has the feeling of potential
waiting to explode
Creating
discovering
Always Being

Against a backdrop of desperation and sadness
a city thrives

It gently sweeps its locks aside
revealing a weathered face
looking in a mirror
full of once youthful beauty
still holding the satisfaction of irreplaceable memories and
the knowing that tomorrow will always bring more

This place has been through a lot
and it speaks to me
Feeds who I am
and I am temporarily satiated

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.

Tengo Una Tristeza y no la Puedo Borrar

4 Apr

Tengo Una Tristeza
y no la puedo borrar
Se me cuelga del cuello
y no la puedo despegar

Camino por las tinieblas
Y no me puedo enfocar

Siento que lo mas que camino,
lo mas que me pierdo…
Pierdo mi lugar

Me diras tu?
Como me encontrare de nuevo?
Me diras tu?
Como me encontrare de nuevo?

Tengo Una Tristeza
y no la puedo borrar
Se me cuelga del cuello
y no la puedo despegar

Dentro del corazon
lo siento muy obscuro
Muy pesado
No lo puedo cargar

Y me pongo a pensar
Y me pongo a pensar…

Seras Tu?
Seras Tu?

No te puedo encontrar…

Helpless

15 Mar

The tide recedes
each time
a bit further
taking with it a little pain
and a little strength

When the sun is out
it warms my face
On my palms
it tingles
and I sigh
relief

I hear the birds sing again
the sky, a gorgeous hue of blue
beauty everywhere
fresh air
never tastes sweeter
sharp
full of promise

I want to run
but not away
towards something, someone, somewhere
Clearly defined

peace

I smile
wide and free
show my teeth even
and giggle endlessly

Self love
the color of my skin
the way it shimmers in the sun
the shape of my body
the softness of my lips
in harmony with my strength

I feel
and more importantly
I Want
to feel

A day, a week, or a month goes by
and I wake up
feeling strange
unsettled

Heaviness sets
my thoughts pained
a cold sweat
as the memories take hold

Alone
the quiet scares me
as it creeps in
the lack of sound

In a fog
everything hurts
my mind lays
Dormant
withdrawn

Those muted days
I don’t wish on anyone

Sadness fills me
at the thought of
Wasted youth
in a frenzy to feel nothing
to fade

Release the gray days
for the clear blue days
learn to feel again
Not so
helpless

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