It was one of those national holidays, the kind where none of us had to work. We were all home 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 has to work on his day off, the same curse I carry in the long legacy of our family.
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. Figures.
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. The truth? He never let me pick up a hammer, never let any of us. Machista is what he would always be. Not so bad, 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. I’m a woman after all, but that’s alright. I can get my own tools.
They never liked the way I dressed, never will. I dress funny, I don’t match my colors, my shoes are dirty, my hair is a mess. “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 clothes.” That day, they didn’t like the way my jeans hung or the little belly hairs that I was supposed to shave down to not offend them and the rest of the world, the ones I never noticed and the ones no one ever noticed either. My jeans stretched as they do and fell down because my belt didn’t help much, sometimes my lonjas showed themselves to the world.
They laughed at their ridiculous daughter/sister and it almost hurt, was going in that direction. Your bra strap is showing. Your shirt is so white, I can see the white bra shining through it. Oh that bra, that one that’s old enough not to be perfectly bright anymore. This girl and her disgusting clothes and the 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, so I tucked the bottom of my top under my bra. My love handles were unloveable, so I pulled down my jeans to put them in their full, 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 perceived 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 up and my attitude filling my lungs, to them I will continue to say, “Asi es.”
Pictured: The outfit I was wearing that day.