Thursday, October 07, 2010

4+1-1≠4 (Aftermath)

Time Magazine ran an article the week of the census that started with the statement, "I still bear the mental scars of a question on a philosophy exam in college that left me whimpering at its wicked simplicity: 'Could the number two change its properties?' I'd been raised to think numbers were as close to reliable as anything could be, so clean and clear and immune to argument. Some are odd, some round, some lucky, but three will always be one less than four."
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I stopped there and looked through the magazine again. Surely there's got to be something else I haven't read yet... No? Oh, Nancy Gibbs. Here we go again.
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The existential melodrama of filling out a form for the bureau and all of the thoughts that correspond continued. I wanted to say Just because a professor asks a question doesn't mean the answer's complicated. A number is an adjective, simple as that. It describes something. Five doesn't equal five if you're talking about centimeters and miles; 15 soldiers are not equal to 15 lemon drops. It's not the number that's changing properties, but the unit that's changing. Please, Miss Gibbs, wrap it up, wrap it up*.
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Still, her article came to mind the other day. The other day being today, actually, sitting on the couch, feeding little Otto. Thinking about how every day, without fail, there were four of us**. My grandma Lola, Flaco, Loli, and me. And then we added one. Then suddenly lost one. And four is not at all the same as four.
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I'm a terrible cook now. My grandma, she had her own television show, on two channels. An apron and red lipstick, always an extra container of food for the cameramen. She watched every move I made in the kitchen like a hawk. A mostly-blind hawk, but a hawk nonetheless. Put a spoon in the pot! Si no, los frejoles no se ablandarán. Si lo hiciste? Metiste la cuchara? (Si si, ya la puse.) No la pusiste. Yo sé que eres necia. (Ay yay yay. Si, está ahí .) Mete otra. (Bueno, bueno. Ya.) And to her credit, she was right. There was no spoon. I am necia. I thought I knew so much.
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And yet now, things burn. I add comino to things that shouldn't have comino. I think she's laughing in Heaven.
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I don't have enough arms; Loli has to drink her milk standing. No one tells me about Obama's newest immigration speech, or what El Gordo thought about it. She's not here to tell me slightly off-color jokes (No cogiste el chiste? Si es chistoso, mija. Te lo cuento otra vez) or to talk about Alejandra Guzman's outfit. Or to tell me what they're saying about Ricky Martin. Or to remind me to wash my babies' hands. I miss kissing her cheeks and how she would grab my wrist to pull me closer. I miss her laugh and her eyes and her voice and her endless pomadas.
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And yet, there's Octavito. A surprise little 1. Adding some extra noise to what would have been a too-quiet house, growing and growing (ese niño si es Verdesoto, es comelonsísimo, que lindo), a crazy little hourglass showing how grief doesn't stop the push of time. He's full of life, full of possibilities, at the very beginning of it all. He gave us a fresh start. I thought this was too much at once -a new job, a move, a baby, a death- but it's kindness, all of it. Not a series of changes that left my babies jarred, but one big enormous everything change.
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It doesn't equal four, but it's good.


...
*I would like very much for her to be hired by the Upper-class White Suburban Liberal Feminist Always-Poignant-Never-Funny Review and for that last page to belong to Stein. I ask for little. (Not that I have a problem with her point of view. I just get tired of her use of the word "we" - in that it invariably means rich and white and in doing so seems to presume that no one else exists. If she wrote for the Review, we would mean we and it would all be just fine.) This is a terrible footnote; I apologize. The next one is better.
**On a good day, there were five of us; my sweet mamita as well. Ocurrida like me. I loved seeing her not as a mother but as a daughter, fregandola a proposito, still traviesa. My grandma with her mock scorn doing little to cover her pride. Ay Monsita! she would say. Te digo que siempre ha sido asi.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is really wonderful- miss you guys!!!! :) kelly

Anonymous said...

Something I've learned over the years is to know when to let someone else drive. Thank you for taking the wheel with these posts giving honor to your grandma...you and your sister have been the best.

Tu Papi'

Anonymous said...

Me he demorado en escribirte, pero es que no podia, todavia la oigo por toda la casa, todavia la veo en su silla verde sentadita esperando que yo llegue...todavia espero sus bendiciones cuando salgo a algun lugar....todavia, todavia....me va a tomar algun tiempo en acostumbrarme al silencio de la casa, yo siempre le decia que ella era quien metia la "bulla" y ella respondia, PERO MIRA LO QUE ME DICES ALGUN DIA CUANDO YA ME MUERA VAS A EXTRAñARME! y se reia a carcajadas con esa risa inigualable.....te tendre conmigo y te recordare por el resto de mi vida mami....se que estas en el cielo junto a mi papi disfrutando de la Gloria de Dios, un besito grande a los dos...de alla miren el progreso de sus nietos y bisnietos que tambien siempre los recordaran y son ellos quienes continuaran sus legados. Monsita

The Goodfellas said...

pero que lindo mami.
que precioso.

Lisa said...

Although I've never met your grandma, your post has me in tears (probably part of the pregnant hormonal thing), but really this was so touching. I'm so sorry you are minus such an integral and important part of your life. How joyful will it be for you to reunite with her in heaven, I can only imagine how proud she is of you and your family and how blessed she was by you, too! Prayers for you my friend and congratulations on your +1!