For if the modern mind is whimsical and discursive, the classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless. It is not a quality of intelligence that one encounters frequently these days. But though I can digress with the best of them, I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.Donna Tartt, The Secret History
At the turn of the century, with a baby strapped to her back, my great-grandmother left a burning town in rural Mexico on foot and began her trek to Mexico City to begin her second life. My great-grandfather was presumed dead, captured and killed by a rebel army. My grandfather would grow up in Mexico City and so would his daughters. One of them was my mother. But in 1974, she would buy a one-way bus ticket from Mexico City to Dallas. There, she would meet my father at a Latino church where he played the piano.
Soon after my parents married, my story, and that of my four siblings, begins. There is a wall of diplomas in my childhood home that speak to ways in which we have “won.” Look at what we’ve accomplished in three short generations, nine college degrees among us.
Yet, whenever I make my way South, I feel the heaviness of my parents’ American Dream etched in the calluses on my father’s hands, among the grief lines of my mother’s mouth. I wrestle with the price of my freedom, the price of my education. I know others do too. When I left home, I too was searching like the women before me. This is my part of our story. Beneath each story is another story not yet written.
Nowadays, I lay my hat in Westfield, Massachusetts. I work at Smith College and teach part-time in the field of ethics and community-based learning. My fiction has been anthologized via Shepherd University’s Appalachian Writers Series, and can be found online at The Acentos Review, as well as in podcast form via LatinX Audio Mag. My writing lives in a multiverse of super sad true love stories, Chicana culture, desolate spaces, and women at work.
In my book club, we read about conmadres, santeria, the death grip of the Catholic Church on the Mexican imagination; we read about mothers letting their daughters go. I find radical empathy transformative about literature. Once, I traveled as a seed of hope to where I am now, this slippery space that feels a little Lynchian, a reality stranger and more magical than fiction.
Meditation practice has taught me to write with my body, and heal with my words. I am working on more stories in the voice of Cielo Salas, the character featured in The Masters Review. I write as the child of immigrants. I write for the Chicana in me, the geek in me, the poor suburbanite In me. I write as a mother brimming with love for her son, desperate for the power of change. I write to show a bit of who I am, and maybe what I’ve lost.
I find home at sobremesas around the kitchen table. My second home is between the pages of books, I am warmed by the words of Sandra Cisneros, Willa Cather, Yiyun Li. I want my LatinX readers to take away that we can be more than the futures imagined for us. We can be more than what we dreamed.