This is not a sob story. We were young. We were poor. And we were frugal. We knew how to stretch a dollar. And how to make a few dollars out of a dozen or so tortillas, tacos or tamales. A little effort. A little dose of creativity. And most importantly our seeming innate sense of ingenuity. If there was one thing we all walked away with, from the doors and memories of our childhood, it was the inability to ever truly give up.
In all honesty, we didn’t know any better. We were bumpkins. Country bumpkins. In the truest form. Too blinded by our ignorance. Coming from a world of nothing but dirt roads and imagination. Where all we knew was como salir adelante con el sudor de la frente… and by the occasional generosity of complete strangers. No street cred. Just wild curiosity and bewilderment well beneath our years. Everything was new. Every opportunity a chance to be amazed.
I’d like to say we were more sophisticated, but we weren’t.
We didn’t know how to give up. Even now, though we’ve gotten much better at it, when it really counts, we just can’t seem to be able to lie down and take whatever comes in our direction. Maybe it’s just human nature, not anything exclusive to our family of nine. But every time I’m at the brink, right there about to give in, wanting to let go… wanting to not care anymore, I can’t. I’m eight, nine and ten again, trailing door to door behind my mother, selling her tortillas, offering to clean houses, anything to make a few extra bucks. I’m in the parking lots of Fiesta and Wal-Mart: tamales… ¿no quiere tamales? Would you like to buy tamales?, over and over again despite the dirty looks and rejection of our hard work.
And I’m reminded of just who I am and where I come from.
Mis padres nunca se han rajado. I’m hoping to do the same.