Queer Historia

(i keep rewriting this in hopes it will one day capture what I mean, until then I keep reworking it. Here’s the newest version) 

tw: abuse and disownment, reference to addiction

Queer Historia

I met my abuelita for the first time at my mother’s summer wedding. I was so ready to hate her—ready to hate her for rejecting and disowning my mother out of fear of la jota mala. I was ready to disbelieve everything she said to me and I worked hard to resists her stories and comments.  I steeled myself against her truths so they would pass me by unlike the years that passed me by without a single call, letter, or attempts at acknowledgement of my existence.

What I met instead was a woman curled into herself, a bosom heavy and low not so unlike my own, and face that was stern but innocent. I had imagined that after all these years she would be larger, a true monstrous size to match her monstrous legacy. No, she barely broke five feet and the bird small hands and feet only gave her a more childlike presence that rattled me as the staggering amount of anger seemed malicious to project on such a frail and dependant creature.  I realized too that it is hard to hate someone who shares the face of a beloved, a face that mirrored that of my mother’s.

Sunday morning after the wedding, with sunrise cresting, she sat me down over a warm and weak milky cafecito and started to pour forth story after story about being a single mom and making ends meet, about the fighting and abuse between my grandfather and her, about the way she rejected the normal mujeres role to live on her own terms, about the way she fought back the pressure to accept the abuse and the lies. It was hard to hear her pain, hard to hear the history that made her arrive at a place where her bitterness and trauma would make her capable of pushing my mom away. I didn’t hate her. 

How could I hate a woman that pregnant with my mother left my grandfather for the first time and hitchhiked from San Jose to Los Angeles, bravely facing a future that had no clarity. The same who woman found out her husband was selling drugs again and hit him over the head with a frying pan after he struck her in defiance of her anger. Cast iron swung in the dead of night before running from the 2nd story apartment into the street, neighbors peering as her naked body cowered in the bushes, hiding from her husband. Lady Godiva Garcia, the moniker she carried till she moved away.  And how could I hate the woman that took in her grandchildren when my uncle disappeared and lived drugged out on the streets until he returned ready to father.

She would surely reject this interpretation of her life yet I found myself immersed in her queer history of redefining her body, of negotiating her femininity, of claiming with both fists the role of madre y padre, in rejecting her abuse and bashing back literally, and her queering of Mexicana identity within the confines of both what she was taught and what she had to learn. She may not have ever loved another woman but she never loved another man either.

After talking with my grandmother I stumbled outside to the porch. I couldn’t help but think about my mom and her own relationship with her body, her womanhood, her masculinity, her queerness. How she parented us to believe in fluidity of body, sexuality, health, gender. That she gave up/lost her family in too many ways to live as the queer and gender-nonconforming person she was born. The way she smiles through crying eyes when she recounts the first time she was told to put a shirt on after years of running topless with the neighborhood boys and the time she brought her partner home to closed doors many years later. Memories of my mother picking up the phone and putting it back down, silence on the other end, memories of my tired mother as she figured out how to parent without her mother for guidance. I was heavy with the pain on either ends of the broken hearts of these queered and queer women in my family.

Sun shifting overhead, my grandmother still inside, I reflected back over my own understanding of my mom while growing up and how this was through filtered terms both fixed by society and through my own burgeoning queer sexuality. I went back to the time I asked my mom why she didn’t wear dresses like the other moms and the times I would ask her why I had two moms and no dad. I wondered what she thought when she caught me kissing the little girl from school. I wondered if I hurt her, and I wondered if I gave her the opportunity to love the queer me the way she would have liked to have been loved.

I was forced then with the sun in my eyes to confront my own womanhood as a queer fat femme xicana. I saw the truth of my own watered down understanding of my culture because I was shuttle away from the center of my family’s roots to be safe in my queer mother’s arms. I had to acknowledge the way in which I think of my life as watered down and weakened because I learned more about my culture from a textbook than my family. How I have yet to arrive at a place where I don’t see my neplantla history as anything but pressed and reduced like a silky sliver of a flower that once bloomed. And even more at the core, I felt clarity about the way my xicana roots feel unwatered yet my queer identity feels like natural skin that has been fostered in my mother’s strength. 

A year later and I am still looking into the sun and blinded, not lost to the metaphor of what it means to stare into something that can only make things less clear the longer I look, while seeking clarity and understanding. I’m left thinking about what it means that my grandmother never ever dated a man again—about what it means that my mother would be my father if given the right opportunity —that my own legacy of relationships has raised me up queer as hell and chingona to my bones.

And I’m starting to feel that where I feel disconnect to my culture that my queerness in the context of my family may in fact be my culture, legacy, mi historia, mi presente, mi pasado, my futuro.

I am left with the unanswered paradox of if that losing my mother’s tongue, my culture, really has meant gaining my mother’s jota lengua. 

—CL

Itch, Corazon

Itch, Corazon

The scars on my heart itch like 

summer sweat drying down my back or my scalp at the mention of piojos. 

I remember that my scar checkered heart

has seen emotional wars

that cannot be qualified in wins or loss

but only broken homes and

broken trust and broken safety.

Yet my heart still beats and the texture of these scars soften and flatten

until they feel like stretch marks. 

Yes, 

s  t  r  e  t  c  h 

marks.

Limitations stretched into unreal curves and fishing line thin

and winnowed bridges connecting heartbreak to heart/break to heart

beats.

And I remember the hammer worn and dented tin corazon milagros that I

grew up with, marred forgotten metal beaten thin and beautiful. 

Some things born from under pressure are the most resilient of all. 

-CL (tierracita)

Today it feels like something has snagged my spirit, like a lone errant thread caught on something, pullling and bunching and cutting across me like a border. 

"Do not cross"

maybe this is a sign I need to slow down. Take haste before it all unravels. 

Or maybe it’s a sign that I need to let go and accept that things don’t always last or stay the same and that’s ok. I can’t fix everything and I can’t prevent snags I can only move forward, cut that thread and tie it up.  

Maybe it’s not a border but a starting line. 

Go. 

I couldn’t believe that it snowed overnight.

I couldn’t believe that it snowed overnight.

How could it have when my flesh was boiling under my covers while I slept?

Skin still hot from being buried alive under two heavy mexican blankets and a quilt, skin still hot from the flush of anger I’ve been hiding under baggy t-shirts and a tired pale pallor. 

The pathetic amount of snow dusting the poor people’s suburbia outside only reminded me how let down I’ve felt all weekend. Let down by myself, let down by others—a feeling that feels like rubbing salt into my bitter cracked angry flesh.

Breakups are overwhelming especially when you are delivered the pieces in the mail, expected to understand and accept that this is how it was meant to be.

Deluged with every moment between now and late hazy summer, I’ve been sifting the pieces trying to find that one piece that doesn’t fit with the rest, narrowing down the crime to its weapon of destruction.

Not wanting to see anyone and not wanting to be alone, dressed and ready and under the covers—the art of half-assed practiced in repose. 

Glad the mothermonster was gone and even more glad that his face arrived on my doorstep. Arrived ready to drink wine and watch bad tv under blankets, avoiding touching feet because our friend love does not include cold toes. 

Maybe that’s what I need to hold on to—the friends who intuitively know my needs and steal my bed and blankets not the ones that only enjoy my presence as a place to hear their echo.  

Now that the excuse for snow has melted I can outside.

New goal: fostering a kid.

I really want kids. I really want to be a parent.

I also know that while I want to birth children, I love any kids in my life and I want to foster/adopt kids who haven’t had the easiest life. It just doesn’t make sense for me not to open my heart and home to a child in need. 

Not going to be easy but I have never been more at peace with this decision. 

So here is to my new goal. Financial stability that the state will recognize as enough for me to foster a child by the time I’m 30. 

Love making new goals. 

Grrrrr

There is an assistant multicultural center director opening on my campus that I am totally qualified for.

BUT

Because I haven’t had this job for that long and it would definitely burn bridges if they even found out I applied, I feel like I can’t apply. Maybe if I thought I was a shoe-in but I know I would be competing with over 80 other applicants (that’s how many there were for my current position).  

So bye bye dream job, hope I see you again someday in my lifetime! 

This was bitter post. 

Random moments/thoughts.

Was asked to give my ecojustice/daily toxins/greener cleaners workshop at a pagan temple. Rad. 

Sat on the floor with one of the youth I mentor, he’s ten and autistic. We had a long conversation about not feeling in control in our bodies and what it means to lash out physically or be overally physical as a way to claim space that he (and I with my dyspraxia) are more than our diagnoses/disorders and yet we’ve learned/learning to keep the physical acting out in to avoid breaking social constructs of agency. Really wonderful conversation, love youth. 

Realizing I want some cuddles bad enough I’m even entertaining going on a date with someone I know is no good, just for the physical intimacy (he’s a cuddler). I’ve asked my friend to cuddle with me in the mean time and he agree although we can’t tell anyone so that his big machismo reputation isn’t tarnished. Not like anyone cares, people have caught us in bed half naked cuddling and no one gives a fuck. 

I need a haircut, bad.