SHE’S BACK! by Elaine Del Valle
The Girl: “I know. I want to live in Arizona… for the rest of my life! I love the weather. I love the pace of things. I just love it! I am an adult, and I know. I want to go to school there… and I want to stay there.”
The Mom: “You are a New Yorker through and through…We might be able to jump in anywhere… but not many places can keep us jumping for joy like the thrilling ride that is our New York City.”
But still, and against my better judgment
(that made me ache to call Rent-A-Center),
that new furniture I had just purchased
—y’know the kind that makes a little girls room into a young adults room—
that was all packed up, shoved into the container of a long haul truck and shipped along with all of her clothes, car and most cherished belongings, half way across the country and off to a nice two bedroom condo rental near Arizona State’s Tempe campus.
While she was away– I painted her room… I thought that it might give me some closure…Okay, I ended up needing to paint 9 rooms before I felt some form of closure upon me. We are talking paint brushes, ladders, and tape!… While listening to the Pandora stations of Adele and Elton John!…which by the way, have lots of songs that make you NEED to cry …On A LOOP!
As the paint smell left my walls, I got used to–the quiet.
Sleeping through the night without the house alarm going off as she came home every night… and every morning from the echo of her dropping her shaving cream in the shower.
And I knew she was
and so I never minded.
Used To It…
and I even
in ways that I had forgotten.
A semester has gone by. Facetime is giving me some face time with my girl. Actually more than I had with her when she was at home. Whole conversations are had, and I get to hear all about how she had to drop calculus but passed all of her other classes with A’s and B’s. Job is in tact. Wasn’t so in love with that condo area she chose to live in anymore though. Oh and broke up with her boyfriend. Not to mention the part where she is tired of the desert’s slow motion and the KICKER…
The Girl: “Mommy, I think…I need…I know…I want…TO COME HOME!”
The Mom: “I hate to say I told you so…OK I love to say I told you so! After all, the more I am right, the more you listen to my future advice…But YES…
PLEASE & THANK YOU, COME HOME!”
The Girl: “Oh and Mom, Y’know that dog that you told me not to get…the one that everyone in the house would be allergic to…”
Oh no she dit- int!
Yeah, she did!
The Mom: “We will make arrangements. Uncle Danny will agree to take the dog.”
The Girl: “I can’t live without the dog! I won’t live without the dog! She brings me happiness.”
The Mom: “Then you will do all of those things that you did in Arizona…for yourself…here…You will get an apartment, a job and enroll in school.”
Only this time– I get to see her beautiful face(any)time…
And be able to hold my daughter in my arms!
“WELCOME HOME! YOU WILL ALWAYS BE WELCOMED HOME!”
The Mom: “Y’know, the first of the month is coming and…”
The Girl:—REVISION— The Young Adult: “I know, I already paid my rent.”
The Mom: “You did?”
The Young Adult: “Yes, I had the money, so I just wanted to pay it. I’m trying to be a responsible adult, and I got my dog spayed too.”
The Mom: “You did.”
The Young Adult/The Girl (again): “Uh, Yeah! I just gave all of my money to the vet so… can I borrow $200?”
The (PROUD AND HAPPY) Mom: “No, you can’t…You can have it.”
The Girl: “Okay, I’ll be HOME after work, to drop off my laundry to you.”
And this my friends is a very happy ending.
So far, anyway. Until next time…XOXOXO
Making Me A “Believe”r
Making me a “BELIEVE”R
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS- LATINOS IN COLLEGE
I flew for 5 hours from NY while she drove for 5 hours from Arizona–An easy drive compared to the cross country road trip that bought her there just two months earlier.
The entire plane ride down I find strangers that I am bursting to share my joy with “It’s my daughter’s 21st birthday!”
Most of them respond, “I went to Vegas for my 21st”.
I am shocked. Vegas is the kind of trip that I never dreamed of for my own 21st. After all, by the time I was 21 my daughter was already 2.
Looking at the life that she has created for herself makes me so proud. Her bold choices, made possible by her confidence, and knowing that I always have her back.
I can hear the maturity in her when she confides that she is very happy that she arrived to an away four year college with the experience of community college under her belt. She is able to clearly see the immaturity of the younger women and their struggle to fit in.
She feels comfortable in who she is…A feeling I did not get to until I was 30–okay 37.
I was surprised and elated to hear that perhaps she misses home more than she expected to.
We marveled at Cirque Du Soleil Shows and I came to know that what happened in Vegas will not stay in Vegas, but instead with us forever.
And now suddenly all of our conversations have deeper meaning. Even the texts that we exchange are ending in I LOVE YOU and THANK YOU (OMG). Has someone taken my daughter’s phone? Do I recognize this texter?
Oh yes. I think I do. She is my Friend. Someone I admire and respect. She is the girl I always wanted to be. She is my daughter. She is the future of me and the future of Latinas.
At Ithaca College I found plenty of students of the “Brownsville Breed”… One young Latina was my liaison and the head of the schools PODER Organization.
PODER translated means “Can”, “able to”, “the Power”, “the competence”…All these words exactly right for the spirit I find within the Brownsville Breed.
I can look back at many of my hundreds of performances and think “that one will live in me forever”…
New York City’s Laguardia High School of the Performing Arts…started with the head of the Drama departments introduction in which she told her students that I was proof that “they” “CAN” write, perform, and produce on their own. It was in a half round with stadium seating raked up over 100 feet above that stage that the teens roared in a standing ovation, not for me, so much as for the faith that I had instilled in them.
BayShore Long Island’s High School Awareness Weekend…I was the ice breaker…a performance that marked the beginning of a weekend when students stay in school, sleeping in sleeping bags for the entire weekend, in a therapeutic setting, where they can say anything…and trust that nothing will leave the room. Brownsville was the right show and at the right time letting them know that whether it stayed in the room or not, nothing should be the barrier between them and their success.
Brooklyn’s North Shore Charter Believe School, when for the first time I was in an auditorium of mostly latino teens…Before the show started the students sang to the pre show Spanish music…it gave me chills, and made me hope that my every move shook them with the responsibility they have to themselves and to the future of Latinos.
At Ithaca the small stage did not allow for me to be in the wings or backstage…and so I sat in the audience waiting with them for the show to start…Watching the 90 second video that introduces Brownsville Bred as an audience member…I am usually backstage at this time dancing to the music, channelling its flow inside of me with exaggerated salsa moves that help me to warm my hips and ready my body to the intense workout its about to have…taking the last taste of a throat lozenge, and telling myself “REPRESENT, REPRESENT!”…this time I was just watching…When I rose from my chair it seemed the perfect way to start every show from then on…because I am one of them and they are one of me.
And We are all people that “CAN”, “Have the power”, “the Competence”, “The Poder”…When I ask the question “Are you of the Brownsville Breed?” I know the answer…The answer is Yes and in the asking…it is merely a reminder to accept that this power is within you, and within all of us…and that no one and no circumstance can ever take it away.