“Pero mama, I don’t want to be chained to this world forever. I want to go to college and travel. Maybe travel first and then college. I don’t want to stay here and get married like some docile doll. This is not 1950’s Mexico anymore. We can do more than that now.” I explained to my mother exasperated.
She looked at me with her eye brow raised the one I knew she was judging me and thinking about ways to convince me to stay in this city that only knew the rot of forgotten childhood dreams.
“Your cousins went to college you know; they stayed and saved money while doing so. This isn’t about you moving away, maybe a little but they lived fulfilled lives, I mean they got married then moved out.” My mother told me in that steel voice that could make the world shake. There was a reason why nature was personified as a mother.
“You want me to live with you until I get married? Mother I don’t even know if that is what I want—“ My mother cuts me off with a slew of Spanish words.
“What are you talking about? Marriage is a natural part of life. How could you not want that?”
“It is not natural. Man invented that. I just want to be free mother. I want to explore the outside, I want to understand. I just want to travel mother. If I stay here I will never leave. I don’t want to give up my dreams for a man… I don’t want to become grandmother or you.” I whispered the last part but the hurt in her eyes showed that she heard the little trinkets of dissatisfaction that I had with the idea of giving up everything to be with someone else.
“Ahora escuchame bien, I gave up everything willing and sometimes I didn’t. I don’t regret what I have done and maybe I do feel a bit mad but that is life. Marriage comes with sacrifices and its never going to be easy but still needs to be done. I raised you better than that.”
She picked up the dishes as if washing them would wash away this conversation. I don’t think my mother realized times were changing and that I was part of this culture more than hers. That while I still retained my roots I was raised in a different setting. A setting where freedom was sought from chains that weren’t really chains but an idea to grow away. Later in life I would realized that a free man dreams more of freedom than a man without.
“Mother, I’m growing up. I might not have all the answers and I know I will make mistakes. That’s why I want to see the world and go to college somewhere else. I have the money you know, all those scholarships. I just want to find out if I have the capacity to make it on my own. I want to learn who I am and not who I am connected to you. Marriage though has never been my dream and you know it, now you are just being forced to accept the possibility of it.” I tried to tell her gently.
She looked at me as if she was seeing me for the first time. Not the six year old girl who would come crying each time her brother would give her a bruise but the young lady that was emerging intent on taking on the world.
There was this painful silence, the one you know there might be some change that you might or might not like. You could have heard the first gunshot of a war not yet born but understandings seem to take place in that moment. A singular moment with only one side and I saw my mother’s expression change.
“Sabes, I wanted to be an accountant when I was your age. My mother didn’t have the money and she said it would be a waste of it. I got married soon after. Your father was very machista but he still loved me. I learned to not back down after the first seven years of marriage it was either that or let your father walk all over me. I bended in the end to what my mother wanted out of me. I realize I’m trying to make you do the same—there were tears in her eyes—just promise me that you won’t make the same mistakes that I have made. Don’t do same mistakes your grandmother did. We never stop being a reaction to our parents mija. La familia, it runs deeper than blood because it stays at the back of our heads even when we think we are dead.” She held my hand and I looked at her, not as my mother but as a woman who had been denied too much because of the time she lived.
I wondered years after why we make the same mistakes our parents did and the ones before theirs. Maybe blood is thicker than water.