Remember when...

 

We’ve lived in this house since May of 2013. We aren’t even close to being  completely organized. Our basement is a mess of boxes and garbage bags full of out of season clothing and stuffed animals Eliana has outgrown. If we’re missing anything from our last move (the fifth in four years), we wouldn’t know it.

Our old landlord called yesterday to let us know we had left a box behind and was kind enough to meet The Husband to hand it off yesterday. Inside, we found memories we didn’t realize were missing.

There’s one of me at 21. The  Boyfriend that eventually became The Husband had whisked me away for our first romantic weekend getaway to Mackinac Island. Truth? Yes, it was a weave and no, he didn’t know it yet. When the truth eventually came out, he was visibly relieved. Turns out the tracks connecting the weave to my scalp had left a lot of unanswered questions in those wild with abandon moments during which he ran his fingers through my hair.

I made a wish...

Monkey toes.

She was so tiny when she was born. Long little limbs. The longest fingers and toes I have ever seen on a newborn attached to the daintiest pudge-free baby feet ever to have existed. She was six pounds and 21 inches with a perfectly round head that made everyone who saw her assume she was a c-section (she wasn’t).

I remember looking at this picture when I first saw the proof. It took a minute to realize that my baby’s ankle was positioned just above my arm and her toes stretched far below.

“We’ve given birth to a monkey, I think.”

And the nickname stuck.

 

Upon a star...

My mother’s parents were killed in a car accident on their way back from a trip to Mexico when I was 10-months-old. My grandfather had been a native of Guadalajara (which, I guess, explains my hair), and my grandmother had been American-born but raised, for part of her childhood, in northern Mexico. My mother  was supposed to have gone on that trip with her parents but had decided at the last minute to stay home. I was just baby; too young to leave with family.

At 19, my mother buried her parents.

I lived in my paternal grandparents’ home in Detroit for the first three years of my life with my own mother and father. My mom likes to tell the stories like how my Guelo was feeding me beans and rice at six-months-old and how I called my Guela “Mom” and called my mother “Dorothy.” I remember going to Bingo with Guela and I remember translating an entire conversation between my grandmother and a postal worker dropping off a package while home alone with her one afternoon.

My grandmother died when I was six, leaving my sisters and me with one grandparent. He was  just over  five-feet-tall and was a big, round belly. In my entire memory, he is retired, always balding, with sharp, hazel-green eyes. His voice is gruff, his English choppy and so heavily accented it’s impossible to understand. He commands respect and once drove an old station wagon and had a dog he called Come Cuando Hay which literally means “Eats When There Is.” Every Sunday we ate dinner at Tia and Tio’s house and every Sunday, Guelo left with a bag of bones and meat scraps and leftover beans and arroz. That’s when Come Cuando Hay could eat because there was.

Guelo called us his cabronas. His little assholes. To me, that’s just proof that anything in Spanish can be made into a term of endearment if said with love and a smile.

Andale, mis hermosas cabronitas.

Come on over here, my beautiful little assholes.

And there it was.

Love and a smile.

 

I recently had the chance to hang out with Holly Fulger and friends (and fellow Speaking of Beauty contributing writers) in Holly’s home in L.A. Don’t freak out if you happen to be aware of The Cali Curse and the Me Being Banned from Ever Stepping Foot NEAR Cthe State of California thing.

At least, not yet. I may eventually need to have a shaman clear me for seeing Holly in person, but right now it’s all Google Hangout, but you’re safe for now.

The purpose of our chat was to discuss the focus of our writing for Speaking of Beauty as Holly moves forward in her vision and her mission to grow the conversation of beauty, perception, and self-acceptance. That sounds a lot like Girl Body Pride, with my own personal flavor, of course, and I think it’s why Holly and I were naturally drawn to each other. This, people, is one of the reasons I love social media. Pretty sure there’s no way in hell there’s any other way Regular Me would end up anywhere on Hollywood Actress Holly’s radar without my iPhone in my bra, twitter, and 140 characters. And here I was helping Holly lead a group discussion focused on writing, inspiration, and sharing ourselves and our stories with the women looking to see themselves in our words.

Our conversation was incredible, the group is amazing, and even Eliana had a chance to sit on my lap and say hello to Holly, as she will soon be joining the ranks as an official contributor to the site. I just need to remember to drink an espresso before the next time we get together, and perhaps write up a few bullet points to stay on track, because I’m pretty sure I gave the impression that I like sniffing glue.

Other than that, I learned I’m inspiring.

It’s my word.

Speaking of Beauty features a Style Profile Test designed by Holly and business partner Melissa McNamara. The idea is pretty simple: Choose your word and find your essence. Holly and Melissa plan to launch a makeup line in the near future and the style profile is meant to help women realize that beauty truly is an inside job by first defining themselves before defining their style.

Choose your word and find yourself. Are you an Inpsirer? A Seeker? A Dreamer? a Leader? or a Thinker?

 

GROUP 1                                                                                                                               Visionary, Inventive, Original, Authentic, Spontaneous, Unconventional, Sexy, Outgoing, Idealistic, Inspiring, Stylish, Motivating, Exciting, Influential    YOUR WORD___________

GROUP 2                                                                                                                                 Curious, Funny, Natural, Musical, Entertaining, Joyous, Playful,Whimsical, Eccentric, Vibrant, Artistic, Blithe, Vivacious, Creative                                                                    YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 3                                                                                                                      Caring, Gentle, Peaceful, Graceful, Spiritual, Deep, Source, Ageless, Classic, Serene, Balanced, Soulful, Ethereal, Still                                                                                                         YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 4                                                                                                                          Passionate, Powerful, Independent, Commanding, Adventurous, Fearless, Bold, Athletic, Brave, Risk-Taking, Heroic, Confident, Indomitable, Forceful                                           YOUR WORD____________

GROUP 5                                                                                                                        Strong, Rational, Wise, Centered, Honest, Elegant, Prosperous, Logical, Focused, Loyal, Determined, Organized, Striking, Driven                                                                            YOUR WORD____________

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 WORDS?   __________,  _________,  ________, _________,   ___________

NOW CHOOSE 3 __________,   ___________,    ___________

NOW CHOOSE 1 __________

 

My 5: Inspiring, Creative, Deep, Bold, Driven

My 3: Inspiring, Creative, Driven

 

My Word: Inspiring

 

It must be the lipstick. Sexy, yes?

 

According to the Style Test on Speaking of Beauty, Inspirers are visionaries, idealistic, and spontaneous.

 

Inspirers stand out from the rest. Others follow you and the influence that you embody is very compelling. Your look has been designed to accentuate the aspects of your visionary nature. Since you are unafraid to take chances, a bold palette has been created. The Inspirer’s strength and sense of purpose can be conveyed by strong colors, a distinctive eye, and a defined lip. — Speaking of Beauty

 

That sounds about right.

Me? I like my red lipstick.

You? What’s your word?

Find it. Then go out and live it.

 

 

 

 

 

because her imagination trumps your opinion. Always.

A conversation with Eliana, my almost-six-year-old.

Me: Baby? What do you think of when I say the word “beauty?”

Eliana: Beast.

Me: I like it. But let’s think of things you think are beautiful. What are the first five things you can think of?

Eliana (thinking): Flowers. And butterflies. And Princesses.

Me: Anything else?

Eliana: Yep. Love. And people’s spirits. That makes them beautiful.

This will be my daughter’s first transcribed post as a contributor to Holly Fulger’s Speaking of Beauty blogging team. She talks. I type what she says. Or maybe vlog it. It all depends on if she’s feeling like a rock star or a writer when it’s time to work like Mama.
And this is the bio I wrote up for her.

 Eliana Mercedes is the daughter of The Husband and writer Pauline M. Campos. Up until now, she has been known online simply as Buttercup. But this homeschooling first-grader is now a blogger, which means Eliana Mercedes looks better in a byline. She has no idea what that means yet and only hopes it includes the chance to adopt a baby beluga and visit Disney World one day.

I’m kind of proud. Kind of scared. And maybe a little crazy. But keep in mind that this child does not watch TV with commercials and has no concept of the media trying to brainwash us all into a singular concept of beauty. That’s exactly why I cannot wait to see what she has to say next.

 

 

Buttercup loves her, too.

 

It’s midnight. The grandfather clock tells me so, loudly, and interrupts my five-year-old’s current explanation for why she is still awake and will she grounded from that birthday party this weekend because she is?

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

No, I have to. I haven’t gotten any work done (or even started ) and I have to keep her from a birthday party on Saturday even if we are moving or become the mom who never follows through on consequences. I know the move is on her brain and its causing anxiety and many mixed emotions so I’m trying to be lenient. But it’s midnight and she’s just now allowing herself to relax enough to drift off.  Sometimes t all boils down to wishing Benadryl made her tired because I can’t keep clocking in at midnight and stay sane.

We drive to Maine in 16 days.
I can’t sleep when I’m anxious.
She may never see this little boy again so I have to let her go to the party and I can get firm another time, right???
We drive to Maine in 16 days and I am going to miss my first best friend so much it hurts because being connected via tweets and texts and status updates become different things when time zones hamper communication and plane tickets are required before scheduling joint pedicures.
Buttercup can’t wait for snow and white Christmases and spring and running barefoot in the grass. I can’t wait for seasons and new adventures and the next chapter. We both understand that we have to go because severe mesquite allergies and Southern border living are not a good combination. It sucks, actually.
We have so much to look forward to.We know we can’t stay and we have known for a while and instead of just looking for rentals, we are actually looking into purchasing a home. There’s email and post cards and promises to video chat with the friends we love.
There’s so much. To look forward to. That we are leaving behind. That we are trying to bring with us.
Doesn’t make leaving easier.
I climb out of bed when I know she is asleep, tuck her in, and kiss her cheek and give in to her innocence like she knew I would but promise to be firm when…well…not today. We are going to the party on Saturday. And I’m pretty sure she’s going to be up until midnight tomorrow, anyway.
That’s okay. I understand because the BFF sent me a text message that simply read …
Please don’t move
…and I won’t sleep at all.
 

;

My mother wants to know why I cut my hair so damned short and what size dress I am wearing now.

An aunt clicked her tongue and shook her head as she lamented my daughter’s lack of Spanish-speaking skills.

My uncle’s sister — whom I have not seen since I was five — asked why I only had one child. Then she nodded approvingly at my sister and the four children running between her legs because working ovaries are obviously a sign of a good and proper Mexican woman.

Rapid fire Spanish from a relative who flew in for the wedding wondering how old said child is now as she hides her face from another pair of prying hands in the folds of my dress. Four of her five years and 2,500 miles between us and the Mexican Show Pony Craziness that comes with special occasions has turned my three-quarter-Mexican-child into a white girl who expects strangers to respect her personal space.

She looks so much like you.

You look so much like your mother.

Your sisters look so much like your father.

And I am instantly 13 again. Insecure. Out of place. Unsure of where I truly belong.

***

We flew in to Detroit from Tucson a few days ago for my cousin’s wedding. Buttercup is the flower girl. And we’ve spent the last 20 minutes outside of the church waiting for everyone else, including the bride, to show up late. No one from the church is looking for us yet. They are used to running on Mexican time.

Buttercup is playing in the courtyard with her four cousins. She is grateful they speak English, I think. Small talk keeps me and my sisters occupied because the divide between us is more complex than the miles we just crossed. Because we are in the same place, though, we will pretend to try. No one will be expecting weekly phone calls to stay in touch after we return home. And yet there are no hard feelings. It’s just understood.

Family begins to arrive. Hugs and kisses and You Look Great, Mijitas are exchanged. Sometimes because it is expected. Others because it is sincerely meant. We — The Husband, Buttercup, and myself — stand alone in the midst of the Spanglish craziness. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am thinking in English.

***

The rehearsal takes two hours. By the time we are ready to leave the church for the rehearsal dinner, Buttercup is crabby and asking to go home. We oblige, taking my mother and one sister with us, grateful to hide behind the excuse of a tired child. The bride and groom nod their understanding. More hugs and kisses are exchanged. And we are free.

Buttercup is full of smiles and laughter as soon as the car door closes and the engine starts. No longer overwhelmed by the noise and the outstretched hands, it’s apparent the child is more like me than I sometimes realize. In the middle of strangers who are bound by blood, she wants to hide and remain unnoticed. But with close friends who have become family, she is light and she is happiness.

It’s time to go to my mother-in-law’s house now. It’s where we are staying while we are in town. As we turn to leave, my mother hands me a small bear.

Don’t forget this, she says.

It’s my one-eyed bear from childhood. I smile and hug it close as my mother makes sure to remind me her dress size is smaller than my own. I’ve come home again.

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