by Donaji Garcia
I am from two generations of dancers’ indigenous skin bathed in sunburns
From hot chocolate made of cacao en las mañanas when I thought my sister wasn’t alive
And the Oaxacan handmade face masks that now cover my lips that were once painted pink
As the sun sets and disappears, my constant faith goes with the sound of the radio reporting more deaths
and less life
It felt like my Rosario was the cellphone of the soon-to-be adult with more images of sadness as people
roamed through the streets, losing jobs, leaving more apartments for rent.
I am from the exotic plant in the hallway because it tries to keep living each day, with water, and with gentle wind touching my arms and telling me, “We are here for you.”
The leaves are long and smooth and reach out to the stainless window as I watch the sky smoking fire.
We help out our neighbor, our friend, our grandmother with a bit of love to keep surviving, and this is how we demonstrate that we are stronger together.
And my padres teach both my sister and me to love one another as we walk around the neighborhood helping loved ones as much as we can.
From my mother, I inherited her determination and her ability to understand everyone around who needs a shoulder to cry on
And from my father I inherited his unconditional love, his way of helping out by tutoring a friend in piano or teaching someone else the art of poetry
And I inherited my grandmother’s love of dancing, and I practice dancing in the family living room instead of on the big stage where I once performed.
I’m from the woven baskets of carrizo that keep being embedded into the traditions of mi familia and costumbres to honor them and keep them alive, now more than ever important.
I am standing six feet apart from my friends and family who have been there filling my heart with the hope that we will be together physically close once more.
From the framed childhood photographs of my younger self without a preoccupation in the world
I’m from my phone screen with its constant reminders to check it every 5 seconds
From the song of my ringtone that tells me I have a friend on the other side of the line
I am myself, taking one day at a time.
COVID-19 filled my home with worries and silent screams and wishes that this was only a nightmare.
We pray for our loved ones to be safe and for us to continue to emotionally assist others around us.
Because when we make them smile, we have already reached something beyond happiness.
In the month of July, dancers from Oaxaca traditionally move to the sones and jarabes of our culture.
There would be beautiful colors flying in the sky and skirts dancing to the sound of tapping high heels.
Now all that is digital, on a screen.
How I yearn for that L.A. paradise.
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