figures (Revised & Revisited)
It was one of those national holidays, the kind where none of us had to work. All my parents' children still lived at home and we were all around at the same time doing different things with our lives in different rooms of the house. It was hot outside, but my dad was building a shed to put all his toys in. He always had to work on his day off, the same familial curse I continue to carry.
My sister and I stepped out of our rooms at the same time, both headed towards the backyard. She looked me up and down as she always does and questioned my financial decisions as she always will. An architect telling an artist how to live. as if I didn’t already have that part figured out. Typical.
Four of us stood outside as my dad finished up the work he was going to do that day. He stood there in his sweat soaked t-shirt as his wife and two daughters stood around. No one ever helps him with anything, was what he was probably thinking. But truthfully, he was the one that never let me pick up a hammer. He never let any of us women work the way he worked. He was still a little bit of a machista, and probably always will be. Not a lot, but just a little.
I used power tools in art school all the time, but it was my brother who he took to get a tool belt. It was a swift blow to my heart, considering that my brother was never so inclined, but I’m a woman after all. I can get my own tools. I make him teach me anyway.
My family never liked the way I dressed and they never will. I wear funny clothes, don’t match my colors, my shoes are always dirty, and my hair is a mess more often than not.
“Your belly button is showing when you move a certain way, you should really slap a brand on something for once, start spending more money on clothes, but stop buying the clothes you like.”
That day, they didn’t like the way my jeans hung or the way the little belly hairs that I was supposed to shave down to not offend them and the rest of the world peeked through. You know, the ones I never noticed and the ones no one ever noticed either. My band of my jeans stretched as they have a tendency to do and they kept sneaking and slipping down because my belt didn’t help much. As a result, sometimes my lonjas showed themselves to the world, simply wanting to say hello.
They laughed at my perceived ridiculousness and it almost hurt, or at least was headed in that direction.
"Your bra strap is showing. Your shirt is so white, I can see the white bra shining through it. Why are you wearing that bra? The one that’s old enough not to be perfectly bright anymore? This girl always has to wear her offensive clothes in that terrible way she wears them."
I embarrass them, that much has always been clear, but I am never embarrassed of myself. I’ll never know how to be.
The bra and the belly hairs were unacceptable, that much they made clear, so I tucked the bottom of my top under my bra. My love handles were un-loveable, so I pulled down my jeans to show them in their fullest, most exaggerated view. They laughed and I laughed.
They laughed because I made myself into a caricature of who I already was. I laughed because this is who I will always be.
“Anything else you want to criticize?” I asked as I stood there with my stomach and my imperfections on display. They had nothing else to say. In the game of awkward, in the battle of one upping the ridiculous, I will always win.
To every member of my blood, I am what we call a sin verguenza. I have no shame. With my chin raised and my attitude filling my lungs, to them I will continue to say, “Asi es.”
the original picture, from the original post