Boda, Cuentos

Your middle name is always

Whenever we’re asked how we met, Sean and I both respond, “Ummmm.”

The truth?

We really don’t know how we met, but we figured we had to get the story down before we got married.

The easy answers would be “through mutual friends” or “at a barbecue,” but that’s not completely accurate.

Here’s what we know:

We met in Los Angeles in May 2002. Ten years is a long time and all I remember is being introduced to Sean and his friends from New York. I don’t even remember what we talked about, or if we talked about anything.

Seven months later, I saw him again when I took a trip to New York with a bunch of mutual friends. During that trip, I hung out with Sean and friends once or twice again. I think we watched a movie (Gangs of New York, maybe) and ate at a Chinese restaurant near Times Square.

Neither of us remember more than being in each other’s presence with several other friends.

The reception was held in an art gallery

Although we were both part of the same online network, I didn’t ever really interact with Sean. In May 2006, he came to LA for a wedding. We sat at the same table. A few years later I told Sean, “I didn’t even remember that you were at Andrea and Jasaun’s wedding until I went through the pictures.”

“We sat at the same table! How could you forget?” I blame our friends’ adorable baby girls sitting at the table with us.

I do know that Sean and I started interacting more through our blogs in early 2007.

Sean’s first comment — according to WordPress — on a post about the Coachella Arts & Music Festival: “Rumor has it The Police might be reuniting there as well.”

We soon realized we had very similar taste in music and television. We both adored Rilo Kiley and lamented the fact that our local friends didn’t love the group as much. We chatted almost daily on G-Chat about Lost theories, new music and dating misadventures.

First submission for the job of concert buddy

Our relationship continued like this for a few more years. Sean was the first person to apply for the position of concert buddy by sending in a mix CD. I loved the songs he chose and soon developed a mini crush I kept to myself… and the blog.

Sean, the New Yorker who told me I needed to be nicer

When I visited New York for an education conference in 2008, we hung out, watched Lost played video games (I won, of course) and drank beer while talking about the similarities in our upbringings as first generation kids. The next year when he came to LA, I took him out for Mexican food and watched Lost.

We were friends for a long time and got to know each other quite well before either of us ever let on that we — gulp — had non-platonic feelings. Despite this, there was still a lot I’d come to learn about Sean while falling in love with him.

Sean’s now my concert buddy for life. No plane ticket required. Mix tapes still accepted.

Wrote this for the wedding website. I was inspired to revisit it when I read Melissa Nibbles’ post on the book Love Is A Mix Tape and thought about how sharing music helped my relationship with Sean develop from platonic friendship to long distance relationship and then some.

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Cuentos

Two years

Cindy and I

At our first date, a Bird and the Bee concert, I asked Sean to be my fucking boyfriend. I was quoting a song by the band, but I meant it. He said yes.

We were official. That was two years ago.

A few days later, he returned to New York and we began 9 months of a long distance relationship. Now, we’re in the same city and planning a wedding. I like the changes.

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Cuentos

Anniversary

On milestone anniversaries it’s almost impossible for me not to think about what I was doing or where I was at that same point just X years earlier. I wrote the following on September 11, 2002. The GM I refer to was a good friend and leader of the Muslim Student Association at UCLA at the time.

***

I cried this morning as I drove to work just as I did one year ago as I drove home in the morning from campus after working on a paper all night long. Except this time, I think I finally let myself grieve. I did it as I passed the cemetery where Grandma and Grandpa are buried. I felt so much pain and anger. I didn’t grieve only for those who lost their lives on September 11.

I grieved like GM did when he wrote this article last year in response to another in the Daily Bruin (October 10, 2001):

I end this submission with a response to Jones’s statement that I should join Jones in “howling for blood” in order prove my “Americanness.”

I condemn these attacks on innocent lives as I condemn all innocent lives being taken. I grieve for the daughters whose father was working on the 101st floor of the fallen building; my heart aches when I think how those passengers aboard those ill-fated flights must have felt before the horrendous impact; and my eyes lower in grief whenever I see a view of the New York skyline.

Yet this pain is not new for me or for many others around the world who have seen the same horror of innocent life being stolen away countless times around the world, whether it be in Sudan, East Timor, Chiapas, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Chechnya, the Phillippines, or in my homeland Iraq.

Excuse me, Jones, if I don’t “howl for blood” along with you, for I have already seen more innocent bloodshed than my eyes can bear to stand.

Last year, I bought the September issue of Latina magazine. I think I was really feeling down that day and just picked it up at the drug store.

Months later as I flipped through it, I found the calendar it had for the month of September, 2001. In the box for Tuesday the 11th was the following: a dove with an olive branch, and the words “International Day of Peace: Make peace with your suegra (mother in law)” [or something like that].

Que ironía.

Peace to all those who lost loved ones, peace to those in war ravaged countries, and peace to those who continue to suffer the brute force of US military intervention.

Paz. I’m off to listen to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” because it’s as fitting now as it was 30 years ago.

***

I remember staying with my friend Jonathan late in to the night. I was writing the final paper for my summer school class, research methods in sociology. Jonathan was writing a funding proposal so he could have a job. He didn’t stay until about 7 am like I did. I left at that point because parking in the school lot was no longer free. When I left the underground parking structure I could hear the radio without static. I was waiting at Sunset Blvd to head out to the freeway while the news came in. I was very confused, but by the time I was on the 405 south, I knew something was wrong. The freeway was eerily empty and I momentarily freaked. What if New York wasn’t the only city to be attacked? What if something happened in LA or elsewhere? When I got home, I turned on the TV. My roommates were just waking up and I told them what happened. We watched in horror as the planes crashed in to the two towers of the World Trade Center and then they collapsed.

I returned to work and class later. The bus was empty, so was campus. I chatted with my friend, Chris, while at work and he thought it would be safer if I stayed home. I told him I didn’t have a choice. In the afternoon, I went to class. My professor didn’t mention the attacks, but he said it was okay if we just turned in our papers and left. I don’t remember what I did.

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Cuentos

The day like smiled on me

The summer I turned 16 I crushed hard on a skinny Spanish boy with messy light brown hair and hazel eyes. Sergio was one of several students in a 4-week English language program. He stayed with a family from church like the other students.

My family hosted Iván, a 6-foot tall 16-year-old from Asturias in the north. Through the month of July we tried to help him work on his English skills. Sometimes it didn’t work and we’d end up making fun of the way he commanded us to quit teasing. “Eh-stop!” That just made us laugh more. When Iván returned to Asturias, he told us “te voy a hechar de menos” (I’ll miss you). I didn’t know what the phrase meant at the time, but now like it more than the more simple verb extrañar.

In the mornings, Iván, Sergio and their peers took English classes. In the afternoon they were free to hang out with their host families, go on beach trips, go to the mall or simply hang out in someone’s pool.

One afternoon after summer school, Danny borrowed my mom’s Durango and we drove Sergio and Iván to the Guitar Center in West Covina. Sergio wanted to buy a guitar. I jumped at the chance to go as I’d already decided that I sorta liked Sergio.

Danny drove down the streets playing KROQ just loud enough for us to hear the music but now drown out the conversation. I sat in the back seat and stared out the window at car dealerships, banks and fast food restaurants. One song ended and the next began. Without thinking, I sang along to Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Soul to Squeeze”.

I noticed Sergio singing too.

Where I go I just don’t know
I might end up somewhere in Mexico
When I find my peace of mind
I’m gonna keep you ’til the end of time

He caught our simultaneous sing along and smiled at me. I blushed like the smitten almost-16 year old I was.

When I got home, I called my friend Janine (she was hosting a Spanish student too) and told her all about how I was sure Sergio smiled at me and our mutual like of a hit single by one of the most popular bands of the day meant something. My crush intensified.

I spent the next few weeks making up excuses to go to Janine’s house (she lived near Sergio’s host family) or Sergio’s host family. It soon became clear Sergio wasn’t interested in me. He just wanted to play his guitar. Plus, he smoked.

My crush was over faster than a monarch’s lifespan.

At the end of July, Sergio, Iván and the rest of the exchange students returned to Spain. I continued my ho-hum summer of band practice, summer school and babysitting.

Fifteen years after the moment with Sergio, “Soul to Squeeze” was the first song that came to mind when I thought of summer music memories.

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Amigos, Cuentos

Robbie’s story: Tattoos and tots

I met Robbie through Adrian. For years, I called him “my brother’s friend” even though I considered him my friend as well. I like Robbie and get along with him well. The whole family (even extended) is cool with Robbie. He was the only non-cousin invited on the camping trip, excluding the plus-one significant others. Sadly, he backed out shortly before the trip and we wondered aloud how it would have been different with his presence. I felt really bad when I realized that I had never personally told Robbie I was engaged; he had to find out through Facebook. My tío Pancho is one of his biggest fans and regularly tells his daughters to invite Robbie to their parties. He brings the party.

I saw Robbie recently at Cain’s house for a little get together. There was beer, food, beer pong and wading in little Becka’s pool. And a story from Robbie.

As you can see, Robbie has a tattoo or two. They’re pretty neat and easy to notice. His toddler cousin saw Robbie’s tattoos and wanted one of his own. He asked his mom.

“Mom, can I get a tattoo?”

“Yes, but only after you get older and graduate from college. When you graduate from college, I’ll take you to get any tattoo you want.”

The toddler was satisfied with his mother’s answer.

Later, at a family gathering in East LA he noticed a heavily tattooed veterano (older, retired cholo).

The precocious toddler walked up to the man and asked innocently, “What college did you go to?”

We couldn’t stop laughing.

Thanks to Robbie for letting me post this.

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