Princesa Tibetana

April 27, 2024

Los actos de amor y los pedazos de mi vida que de alguna manera, quizás en una vida anterior, me han hecho pensar en la vida que me sigue. Queriendo o no, son mis razones para vivir, y existir.

My life is built around places, enriched through walks within a confined neighborhood, and now grass that smells like all that is familiar. Today, I remember less. Today, I am dull, and it is Tuesday, and it feels like the end. I live stuck in a living room thinking. I think about whether I ever do enough. I think about my never-ending lack of peace, my confusion, my scatteredness, and the ways I find to express myself that make sense only to me, but I can only begin to be true and to speak true by telling you the things that compose me, for better or for worse.

For it is all that I want to make sense of how I feel, to make sense of this, of myself.

Mi vida empezó en el jardín de mi primera casa, el que era más chico que el cuarto de mis papás y salíamos a disfrutar solamente una que otra vez–el jardín—mi conexión más cercana a la naturaleza y la luz del sol en aquel tiempo. Aquí fue donde nuestra primera perra, Lola, que era del tamaño de un gato, con la actitud de un humano, pasando por las mismas emociones que tú y que yo, corría lo que podía, asomándose en los hoyos que conectaban nuestro jardín con el del vecino.

Si ahora intento contar mi historia, con referencias solamente dirigidas a mi ser, sería no solamente una desgracia, sino una mentira. Si no es mi historia - es la de mi primera casa, la de mi hermano nombrado por mi padre y mi abuelo. Mi mamá y Lola. Mi vida es un cuento de todos, de nosotros - y para entenderlo se tiene que entender esto.

I was born into a family of Mexican immigrants in Austin, when the city was known for frogs painted on sides of buildings and as the less chaotic, smaller version of California. My dad told me California was the first option, but a good friend said it should be Austin – that Austin was the better option. When I was born into this family, they chose to buy a house on a street named after a chestnut, and my life next door to the heiress of Bush's Chicken, the most popular girl in school in seventh grade began.

My room in Chestnut Ridge remained the same over the years instead of shapeshifting with the "woman" I was becoming. It remained, and it was purple, with at least 20 different stuffed animals. My nightstand was white and made for a little girl. Of course, that little girl was once me, but now I think of the pink dollhouse knob on its drawer and wonder how it never broke. Then, it was just my nightstand. Now it's the toy of a child, a symbol of my youth, and the only proof of my life before fear. The carpet, dull and beige colored, was where I lay with friends as we scattered to get ready for homecoming. It's where I had sleepovers and laughed behind my parent’s backs. We felt so big and bad for the things we were doing and saying, but nothing was ever real; nothing was ever serious.

During this time, what mattered most in life began: transformation. All that mattered was the way you filled your clothes, and how our tastes became indistinguishable as we chose from pools of people given to us, best suited for our young and underdeveloped personalities.

When you are young, in retrospect, you think of yourself as incapable of complexity, so naive at eight years old; Incapable of thoughts, or at least those of any value. But it was then, and I know it was then, that I realized that not having blonde hair was not that of a lack of trend or coincidence but of a curse. I rubbed my stomach differently, arching my back in the mirror. My neighbor—the girl who survived cancer, the most popular girl in school, the heiress of Bush's Chicken—would never have hair on her stomach.

Everything I needed was around me during this time. All I needed to do was to walk a few steps, and it was there. I was at school, I was at the bus stop, I was at home. I was on a walk with my brother Alejandro, always talking about his very serious girlfriends he had in high school. There were two worth mentioning —both with blonde hair and names only letters apart from being the same. When we weren't walking together, I waited for the day I introduced my first boyfriend to my dad at the door — as my brother brought a new girlfriend home each year, and I stood, waiting to greet her. When we did walk, it was usually initiated by his persistent inability to be alone or to be bored. He would come into my room with nothing much to say except for long strides, pacing back and forth, until he asked, "do you want to go on a walk?" Because there was time for this then, and the things worth worrying about, needed only to be resolved by a walk.

En nuestra segunda casa, en San Jerónimo, me encontraba a través de las paredes del jardín, azules y aplanadas de cemento, con árboles de bambú organizados perfectamente como pares de gemelos, esparcidos, divididos por familias de bugambilias. En este jardín, ningún árbol se encontraba en el centro, solo por el alrededor, distante a una selva o un encuentro de naturaleza cotidiano, y más cercano a uno casi artificial. El pasto perfecto y verde todos los días.

Esta casa es donde murió Lola en sus 15 años de vida. Pero minimo aquí, de la manera más libre posible para un perro con actitud de humano. Minimo, pienso en Lola y pienso en todo el espacio que logró tener, paseando por pastos verdes y perfectos a su ritmo.

Hoy pienso en mis perros, Luka y Mika, pero no pienso en sus recorridos en el jardín como pienso en los de Lola. Pienso en como antes nuestro jardín apenas encontraba razones para existir, y para tan solo reconocerse con el nombre “jardín”. Y como Lola, llegó a tener todo el espacio del mundo. Esto tal vez es porque siguen aquí conmigo, Luka y Mika, mientras vivo tan lejos y tan rápido. Y tal vez lo que encuentro imposible es reconocer lo que tengo ahorita como un momento a punto de definirse. Mientras vivo, y me definen los lugares y las personas y las energías que consumo diariamente. Mi cuerpo las almacena en partes de mi corazón, incapaz de aceptar que mi vida sigue acelerando sin parar, y que en algún momento se convertirán en los corridos que Lola una vez tuvo en el jardín de San Jerónimo.

Estos momentos, en San Jerónimo, son los últimos que recuerdo de una vida lenta, mientras vivía despacio, a través del jardín.

Today, I recognize the voices of birds I once knew when I used to go on walks with my brother. The birds and I became familiar with each other because they knew all we ever did was walk. They knew nothing was ever really wrong, so they kept their songs in tune for us. Today, the only way I can describe how I feel is with how the grass looks at me as I lay on it right now. It surrounds me with newfound desires, my witching desires, blistering like the innocence my mother once held and cared for. The innocence kept within a seven-year-old perception of white rabbits before they become beady-eyed, and we begin to question the imposition of pureness beneath everything soft and white. Today, I am found incapable of describing the present how I do the past, because I still live in those places and the only thing I can grasp from the world in front of me belongs right next to me, right now — within the patches of grass scattered in sunlight, with bodies lying next to each other, as the grass I lay in now, becomes the grass I lay in when I was young, clutched onto the only places and stories I remember of my childhood.

Dentro de mis pedazos más valiosos, y temas de corazón que siguen tiernos y verdes. Sigo en mi primer cuarto en el que dormí de niña, en mi primera cocina, y en mi primer jardín. Entonces, como no tengo manera de descifrar de donde soy, a donde voy, lo único que puedo hacer es ver hacia atrás, y recordar que mi alma permanece en las escrituras, los pensamientos, y las caminatas que tuve a los 15 años - y así para siempre.

Layout: Gray Suh
Photographer: Maya Martinez
Stylists: Geraldine Palacios & Nikki Shah
HMUA: Lily Cartagena & Abby Bagepally
Models: Alex Basillio & Esmeralda Cruz

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