El Susto

Each day I describe the accident a few times to family, friends, co-workers, insurance, my doctor, etc.

They ask, “What happened?”

I’ll describe the little I saw. I leave out the sounds (a deafening crash, the popping of airbags, Los Lobos on the CD player, my cell phone ringing, sirens) and smell (something burnt).

“Are you okay?” they’ll asked with genuine concern.

“Yeah,” I’ll say and then sigh. I show them the the marks on my chest and forearms from the seat belt and airbag, respectively. Those scars and bruises are the only sign I was in an accident.

They’ll respond with something like, “well, the important thing is that you’re safe. Your car can be replaced, but you can’t.”

I look okay, but don’t feel that way.

The susto lingers.

Amigos, Sentimientos

Fotos y recuerdos

The Friday after Jose’s untimely death some friends gathered to create a collage of photos to display during the services.

A half dozen women cropped and trimmed photos and laid them out on a large poster board. The two guys stood back awkwardly. One suggested outlining the black letters of Jose’s name in silver. I might have cracked a Raiders joke. I don’t remember.

The collage making was bittersweet. We laughed a little, nobody cried. Five days after we’d received the news, we had used up all our tears. When the jokes and small talk subsided we were left with silence, our own thoughts, and dozens of photos of our always smiling friend.

Jose Luis Vasquez passed away on July 1, 2007.

Amigos, Sentimientos

π day

Dear José,

Happy 26th birthday! It’s your day, π day, the perfect birthday for a man destined to teach mathematics.

I miss you, man.

It’s been over eight months since we lost you. Of course, that initial pain we all felt on July 1st — that extreme shock and sadness — has faded.

I still think about you all the time. It’s hard not to considering your picture sits atop my bookshelf on my mini-altar. You’re there next to Cindy Rabuy and Grandpa and Grandma.

Most days, I feel okay. But there are some days when that initial pain comes back. It catches me off guard like a rough wave that leaves my eyes irritated and red from the saltwater.

That’s what happened in September. I was looking through some photos from Ralph’s Halloween 2006 party. I don’t look at those pictures much. They remind me of loss and severed relationships.

I came across this photo:

I miss that smile

It took my breath away to see you and Jonathan grinning like fools. I have no clue why you guys are smiling so broadly. It doesn’t matter. It was just good to see that smile. I miss that smile and your positive energy.

I know I’m not the only one.


Preguntas, Sentimientos

Question of the week: Swoon

I currently do not have a crush.

Anyone who has known me for more than a minute knows this is weird. Chispa noted after I posted my 100 facts that in the nearly 10 years we’ve known each other, she’s never known me not to have a crush. Well, that was because most of the time we’ve known in each other, I was actually meeting lots of eligible young men. These days, most of the guys I interact with are ethically off-limits (married fellow grad students, undergrads in the program I work with). I just don’t get out that much.

I love crushes. Well, not the aspects that suck. You know, getting nervous around him and trying to analyze all his mixed signals (which you later learned weren’t mixed, but you just made things more complicated).

I love the beginning of the crush. I miss realizing that I like him and maybe he likes me too. That feeling makes me giddy. I’ve even been known to swoon, just ask anyone who was around late last summer when I met my last crush. It’s a nice feeling and I miss it. I think I might even be addicted to that feeling (which makes a lot of sense if you listen to Radiolab’s This is Your Brain On Love episode from last August).

I think I got addicted to it after my first crush. I was in first grade. My crush, Juan, was in second grade. Yes, he was Mexican and short. No, he did not have a goatee. I don’t know any seven year old who can grown facial hair. I liked Juan enough to get self-conscious about my appearance. The bad aspects of crushes start early on! I worried that he wouldn’t like me because my mom made me wear my hair in two trenzas (braids). I thought the trenzas made me look like a baby — nevermind that at 6 years old I was still a baby.

I don’t remember why I stopped liking Juan, but 20 years later, I’m going to blame the demise of my crush on my older brother. Danny and Juan became really good friends. (In fact, they’re still good friends after 20+ years.) At six, I understood that siblings’ friends were off-limits, or at the very least weird. Naturally, I stopped liking Juan. Instead, I became friends with Juan and when I was 14 I asked him to be one of the chambelanes in my quinceañera. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Juan, but he’s since had a child and gotten married.

La Pregunta: Do you remember your first crush? Tell me about him/her.