Party Girl

I think this was for my aunt's wedding

I was a party girl.

Every Saturday, I had my hair done (colitas o trenzas), donned a frilly dress with matching socks and chonis, and slipped on a pair of black or white patent leather shoes (purchased in Tijuana, scuffed up by me, shined by dad).

I’d follow my beautifully made up and dressed mom and dapper dad out to our car with the other siblings.

We’d arrive at the party where my parents would proceed to greet their dozens of friends and family. We kids dutifully followed, as it would be rude not to greet our aunts/uncles/padrinos/madrinas.

I went to dozens of parties as a kid. There were weddings, anniversaries, quinceañeras, bautizos, and fundraiser bailes. I can’t forget the parties where my dad played as a musician with los Marcianos. Yup, I went to those too.

I liked the parties. There was food, cake, and plastic champagne flutes. After the brindis us kids would collect the plastic cups from the tables. We’ll pull apart the base of the champagne flute and use it as a makeshift spinning top. Sometimes, we’d leave the copa in tact and build towers.

When not stealing copas, we’d play tag, steal extra bolillos from the kitchen and run around the dance floor.

I always made time to stop on the dance floor. I imitated what I saw around me: hips shaking to the beat of a cumbia; feet stomping furiously to the music from the super loud tamborazo; and tacones and botas intertwined as men and women danced closely.

Sometimes I’d dance with my friends and sometimes I’d cut in to dance with my mom or another tía. I’d grab her hands and dance with her. Later I’d be old enough to dance with Papá Chepe. I rarely danced with dad as he was usually playing with the band.

Most of the times, I just danced in a circle on my own as I hummed along, “no te metes con mi cucú!”

When I got tired, I went back to our table and pushed two chairs together. I’d barely wake up as dad carried me out to the car and drove the family home.

Even party girls need rest.



The first earthquake I remember was the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987. The ground started shaking as I ate breakfast in the kitchen. I don’t remember if I actually got down and under the table nor what Danny or my mom did. They didn’t seem all that scared.

After the shaking stopped, mom turned off the gas and checked the kitchen shelves. There were no leaks; everything was in its right place. I went to my bedroom and found a dozen stuffed animals on the floor, rather than the high shelves nailed to the wall. Mom searched for Adrian in her bedroom, and couldn’t find him. He had hidden in the closet after being awoken by the shaking.

Mom sent me and Danny to school that day. I must have been one of three or four kids in Ms. Buxton’s second grade class that actually showed up that day.

Later, I’d check out books about earthquakes and write reports on them for school. As I read more, I grew more interested. Part of me found them fun, despite fully understanding that they caused a great deal of destruction and death. In college I took a class on the subject and would try to identify the different types of seismic waves when an earthquake struck. These days, I’m bummed when I miss an earthquake or am out of town when one hits, like last July’s Chino Hills quake.

Of course, I don’t always enjoy the ground shaking. I dislike the late night/early morning quakes and being shaken out of bed. The ’94 Northridge quake was one of those, but the actual 6.7 early morning quakes isn’t what I remember most from that day. Later that morning, my family went to Mass. An aftershock hit during the service as the entire assembly knelt and watched the priest consecrate the bread and wine. After the shaking stopped, the large cross behind the altar continued swinging from side to side. Everyone remained kneeling, the priest didn’t acknowledge the tremor, and a lone woman sobbed across the center aisle.

Amigos, Familia

Las Tres

“Wait, who else went wine tasting with you guys?” Oso asked as he clicked through the photos on my camera.

“No one, it was just me, my mom and Lori.”

“Then who’s this?”

I looked over his shoulder, “that’s my mom!”

“Your mom looks 25!”

I smiled.

“I’m sure she’d love to hear that.”