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.
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.
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.