Chicharras, I think, was the last word you taught me. Cariño was the first. The other day Erica told me cochinada and I’ve asked her several times to repeat it, same way I did with chicharras and you. Chingao was the very first, back, back, back when still living in that little hovel off N. St. Mary’s St. with Teresa and her window-bashing inter-lopper, Neal.
I remember that cariñosa morning. In my bed one of those early days when I’d leave for class and come back, you still asleep and so handsome in my dark pink sheets, cold emanating from the tile floor of our heat-less house. Holding onto the pink fuzzy pillow as if it were me. I still sleep in that same bed, under the same sheets, in a new house now. A new city, alone.
God, that old house was crazy. And we were crazy inside it, Teresa and I. Two young girls railing against everything, especially our parents’ moneyed societies. We did it all, and laughed about it. We skipped merrily toward the seedy side of life, holding hands, cigarettes like lollipops in our dirty little fingers.
Our survival instincts thrown out the smashed windows, the slashed tires. We climbed the roof, went out walking twelve-at-night, switchblade in her boots, dated the downtown cooks, jumped naked on our trampoline in the rain, wore thigh-high stockings and not much else, surprised each other with ounce-of-weed gifts bought from Svengali older-men. We screamed: at each other, at our parents, at men, men, men. We drank forties, two at a time.
Remember, baby? Remember how you called us las güeras locas?
Today I know enough to say yes, I was very cariñosa con tigo in the beginning. All throughout, really. Even though it’s strange for me, remembering those tender, timid moments of our beginning in light our harsh, violent ending. Jagged and drawn out like the knife on your back. And stranger, my memories of you, of us, are slowly regressing from feelings into facts. A knowledge without emotion.
Used to be I could call up a memory of us, cooking maybe, or eating blueberry pancakes on the hand-me-down sofa in the ghost-of-Christie’s room, and I would be able to crawl into the cave of my feelings: fully, physically able to occupy that space with its green comforter wrapped around our shoulders. The orange cat on our laps. The Manchego cheese we ripped-off from the H-E-B, because we couldn’t afford to buy it.
These days I simply remember the feeling, but not what it was like to feel it. I remember the new summer chicharras on the day I left for good, for Dallas. They were all I could hear. Not the beating of my heart. Not the pounding of your fist.