I arrived at my Madrina Chilo’s house before Danny and Ernie. Chepe greeted me.
When he saw that I was alone, he asked, “Sola vienes tú?”
“Sí, vine de mi apartamento,” I explained. Danny and Ernie were driving from the opposite direction. From Madrina Chilo’s house — the grandparents’ temporary LA residence during the remodeling at my parents’ house, their usual home in LA — we’d carpool to Chavez Ravine for Chepe’s first Dodger game in over 30 years.
Chepe stepped back so I could give him a hug. He was ready for the afternoon game in light blue pants, a white dress shirt and a simple straw hat. His cane was propped up by the door so we wouldn’t forget it in our rush to leave.
He sat down by the open door.
I went to Mamá Toni and greeted her with the usual hug and a kiss. Before I could take a seat next to her, my Madrina Chilo walked out of the kitchen. I hugged her, and asked where I could leave a change of clothes. She took my bag to the bedroom.
I returned to the couch and noticed that my grandparents were watching the video from my quinceañera. They were at my favorite part, el vals! The familiar notes of the “Triumphal March” from Verdi’s Aida rang out as the MC announced each chambelán’s name. They entered two at a time, each holding a gladiola in his right hand.
I stated the obvious, “están mirando el video de mi quinceañera.”
“Sí,” Mamá Toni responded. “Es todo lo que vemos cuando estamos en El Cargadero.”
She explained that due to poor television signals in El Cargadero, they mainly watched old home movies. Weddings, anniversaries, quinceañeras, holidays, birthday parties, baptisms, etc. If it was on VHS, they watched it. My quince video and those from special events were produced by my tío Chuy back when he was still a part-time videographer. They may make me want to cringe at the way I sound or look, but at least they don’t make me dizzy.
I sat down to watch the video with Mamá Toni, but only got to watch a few minutes before Danny and Ernie — two of the chambelanes just introduced in the video — arrived. They rushed their greetings and goodbyes.
“Look what they’re watching,” I pointed out to my brother, hoping he’d want to watch for a few minutes, at least through the end of el vals.
He glanced at the TV, “We got to leave. Eric’s on his way, we don’t want to keep him and everyone else* waiting.”
“Okay,” I conceded and hugged Mamá Toni and Madrina Chilo goodbye.
Danny, Ernie and I didn’t have time to relive 13-year old memories, but we still had time to make new family memories and capture them on digital cameras.
*There were 11 of us cousins who went to the game that afternoon: my tío Chuy’s sons, Eric, Ernie and Rene; Danny, Adrian and I (Lori had to study); and my tía Martha’s girls, Nancy, Vanny and Valerie. Eric took his wife’s younger brother. Chepe was the 11th person.