Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dead Spaces

Dead Spaces

I saw a mother crow make a nest,
Her sticks and chicks hid in the stones of an old church’s crest,
Are the voids between those high columns to create for the crows’ rest?

Or the boy and girl who hide in the dark,
Hugging and kissing against a tree bark,
Does the night tree guard from seeing their love’s spark? 

The boys who skate above the short wall,
Sliding and sailing, they pretend to never fall,
Do they not know those walls retain the grass and dirt, and are only for bugs to crawl?

I remember a nine-story staircase where people smoked,
Exit signs covered in doodles, where people joked,

I remember a room where someone choked,
I’d never sleep inside this, where he died as no-one hoped.

I remember another room where I did in fact sleep,
Covered with photos of my own, my grandma here left for eternal keep.

Will we know the use of every space?
I keep going up and down the elevator just to feel close with my lover’s grace.
Which will be the last place I’ll chase?

Seems like this space is to stay and play, but I know I must embrace to pay before the last day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

LA migración

I saw this statue and quote during my visit to my parents' hometown. Located in the town's entrance, the monument pays tribute to migrants who leave Mexico to pursue the "American Dream." 

“Los migrantes vamos por un sueño Americano, unos perdemos la vida, otros lo logramos, cuantos suenos Mexicanos mas hemos de matar por ese sueño Americano?”//// “The migrants pursue an American Dream, some of us lose our lives, some of us make it, how many more Mexican Dreams should we kill for this American Dream?”

I imagine what life would be if my parents had never left their hometown 30 years ago. Who would I have become if I was born and raised in Jerez, Zacatecas instead of Los Angeles, California? Would I have received the same education and economic “privileges” that I have now? Would I have the same body shape, skin color, clothing taste, or music palette? Growing up in a small, conservative town would be noticeably different than living in the multicultural LA behemoth.

Perhaps these thoughts and words would be in Spanish. Perhaps my faith would strictly be in God, my values would align more to my grandparents,’ and perhaps fear would closet my hand from holding another man’s love more openly. Nonetheless, in my case, I know that I would have been raised by countless family—maybe 20 aunts and uncles, 40-50 cousins, and real sets of grandparents. My relationship to these people would exceed my existing bond of forced, 30 second phone conversations occurring only during special years.

Accordingly, this lackluster story between me and an entire culture that could have been my own highlights my feeling of “missing out on something.” Yet, I’m not exactly sure what that “something” means, possibly a completely unknown perspective of re-interpreting the world, or just a group of people who share my same ancestry line.  Whichever it might be, it seems like my parents exchanged my opportunity to co-exist with other Murillo or Salazar tribe members, and swapped it for a better future.  Certainly my feeling of being “robbed” is just romanticized, and even if I had grown so close to these people would I really have maintained too close?

During the course of the last generations, millions of families left Mexico for improved opportunities, but have the chances really been greater? Do these economic pursuits offset the sacrifice of my parents abandoning their families and cultural identities? My parents only planned to live in Los Angeles for a short time, save money, and eventually return with pockets full of dollar$...but that clearly never happened.

Opposite to my parents, many families did stay in Jerez or moved to neighboring big cities in order to stay closer to family. As a result, I have cousins who also received a better future, and even attended college and have career goals similar to any other American kid. But why did my parents leave and other parents stay? When I asked one of my uncles why he stayed, he explained that migration to the USA, for a while seemed more of a trend than a necessity. One family member would curiously leave and his success story motivated his whole family to follow. “Era la moda,” he said to me in Spanish, which literally translates to “Was the fashion.” Interestingly, I never understood immigration as a trend, conversely, considered it the only option for some families’ economic survival.

My uncle’s use of the word trend or fashion vocalizes the possibility of immigrants as followers who follow for the sake of following. My father followed and exchanged his small town for a dishwasher’s job. With the best intentions, a minimum wage salary in a place of a foreign language became the best alternative.  And 30 years later, I wonder if it was worth it for him, for his parents, his family back home?  Definitely, it was worth it for me because I’ve been able to cherish the dollars of his work.

My parents belong to a generation of immigrants whose stories in their language and religion will be lost to an American Dream. I have families to which I will probably never speak, and it’s hard to think not only about the distance barrier between us, but a language and culture that inhibits any interest. What is the benefit of immigration? Are the families who stayed in Mexico really living any better or worse than my own?

Finally, immigration has surely allowed many families to re-unite in a new space to fulfill an American Dream. But to those victorious, what exactly is this dream? Is this dream about spending dollars in any way? Or can this dream simply be about vigorously providing for those you love? However, does the American Dream actually disrupt families, break traditions, and create even more cultural barriers among households?

Maybe there’s nothing really fascinating about my parents’ unknown stories, or the unknown of the American Dream itself, yet the idea of not knowing can overly romanticize any facts. Perhaps that same unknown convinces people to come and go, to want more, to want the greener grass of the other side, only to discover it’s really just the same shade of sun-burnt green on any side of any fence.