I remember so clearly moments from my childhood sometimes, that I often stop in my tracks if I smell a familiar scent in the air (like my abuela’s perfume, or pancakes on the griddle on a Saturday morning), or remember cartoons my sister and I watched or games played often invented by us (children use their imagination brain much more than adults), images flash from years long past. The other day here in Lugo in a damp air-conditioned lobby I smelled the strong presence of Tobacco (well because this is España afterall) and I was taken back to the Las Vegas casinos of Nevada in the 90s, to a cold damp lobby blasting AC (as you do in the Desert during the Summer Months) where cigarette smoke filled the air, stuck to the walls, the furniture, the elevators, and surely to the people (usually to the elderly chain smoking and hoping to hit it big). I mean I could hear the slot machines and the ringing, dinging and cha-ching-ing noises coming from all types of gambling machines. TRANSPORTED I WAS, even if just for a moment or so.
An 80s baby through and through, I grew up in a loving family in LA, California, in a tight family of four, where there was nothing I lacked . . . in terms of interaction with other children, family love/attention and affection, physical needs like food/shelter, fun and toys, and even FREEDOM.
Yes, as a young girl, I somehow had an understanding already of the concept of Freedom.
My parents had 2 girls (my sister and me) in the 1980s, and we grew up amongst mostly boys (I had 7 male cousins that were like my brothers growing up, and only 2 female cousins). Coming from a Mexican background (3 of my 4 grandparents were raised in México) where “the woman” generally held her tongue and did her duties in the family, you know Machismo is so tightly engrained in generations of Latinos, I can only imagine how tough it was for the women from the generations of my grandparents/and great-grandparents. A woman’s place was to listen and obey, and was hardly to be heard. In general, this rule also applied to my parents’ generation, but it encompassed both women and children. Children weren’t allowed to ask many questions to adults, nor were they allowed to participate in adult conversations. Children had to be protected from the world, and therefore were lied to when need be, or silenced when need be.
Lucky for me, my parents had a different approach. I remember being a child full of THOUGHTS, full of QUESTIONS, just like my sister too, and my mom and dad allowed us to always ask them our questions. Sometimes, they would tell us to ask again when we were just a bit older. Other times, they would answer us straight-forward and in a way that always made us feel “heard” and not silenced. Children should never be silenced. I can tell you from experience, how very important it was for my developing mind to always feel like my voice mattered, and that my questions were valid. My father especially I recall talking with us about conspiracy theories and how our government didn’t care about us. And when we asked more questions, he told us what he knew, what he had read and offered us sources if we wanted to know more. Now, no parents are perfect, and I must say even with all the open communication we fortunately had with them, there was one topic that was completely off limits. . . can you guess which? I’ll give you a hint. I grew up in a very Catholic family. Did you guess SEX? Well yes, that’s the one thing that we never had open communication about growing up because the Church (and the Catholic Faith) teaches celibacy. The less questions asked about SEX, the better Catholic you are. The less you wonder about your body, the better Catholic you are. Again, the silencing, but this time of the young adolescents. Not the way to go in my opinion, but I can take the lessons from my rearing and convey to the next generation what I feel: that open-communication, lots of questions, less shaming/fear and also sharing life-experiences with the younger generations will give them a great start in their Sexual Journey.
My parents did succeed in not pushing us in any one particular direction.
You’ve heard of those over-bearing parents that not only put pressure on their children to succeed, but they also choose the path of their children. . . they choose the career/profession/college/city/town/country they should go to. These types are the PUSHERS and KILLERS of dreams. My parents were supporters instead. Refreshing! I’m so very blessed that they supported every choice that they allowed me to make. They supported my college choice (away from LA). They supported my study abroad choices to México and España and Japan. They supported my field of study, Communications and subsequently my career path in TV and Film Production. They never discouraged me, nor tried to steer me in any other direction. They truly have let me FLY. They built in me the confidence to try things out, to try new places out. . . to travel if my heart so desired a fresh point of view or to seize an opportunity if it was given, even if it meant I’d be farther away from them. I love them so very much for this. “I am woman hear me ROAR” rings true.
My 20s have been full of some of the most exciting experiences of my life. I have traveled to some jaw drop mouth open beautiful places, sometimes with friends, other times with familia, and most recently SOULA (Sola/Alone). I have gone white water rafting in the jungles of Costa Rica. I have swam in oceans and seas abound on 3 continents. I have chased butterflies in the ancient Mayan TIERRAS/LANDS, and walked where the Incas once did in Perú. I have visited the ancient and current capital city of Japan and KARAOKED all Night long with the best of them. I have traveled Europa by plane/train/carpool/automobile, in search of history, good food (**& DESSERTS) and cultural exchange. I am currently living in the wettest and coldest province of ESPAÑA/SPAIN, in Galicia (somehow surviving) and this opportunity to teach English abroad is one that will live in my heart into the next decades to come. I have celebrated birthdays in 2 foreign countries so far and this coming month, in just two weeks I will be turning 29, the last year of my 20s. It’s going to serve as a time for reflection and appreciation for the blessings I have allowed into my life these years, during my ROARING 20s. If you would have asked me just before turing 20 where I wanted to go/what I wanted to do and see. . . I am certain I would have told you many of the places I have now visited. You have to visualize your passions and then not shy away from challenges and the new when you change environment. adapt, ADAPT, adaptation is key. flow. FLOW, go with it, get with it.
As an 80+ year old woman, I hope to tell my grandchildren about my Roaring 20s, and how fucking FANTASTIC they were. All the MEN I met (*umm I mean people). . .yes the PEOPLE I met, the smells and sights, tastes definitely too. I hope to stop in my tracks often to experience a lovely memory from all my years of traveling. Hell maybe I’ll be telling someone else’s grandkids my tales, or young people out on the street who want to entertain an old woman with stories abound. Love lost? I got those. Locked inside stone bathroom in old creepy monastery story? I got that one. Affairs to remember? Got those too. Bad Hangover in México? Got a few too. Future Ariana will pretty much talk to anyone that will listen. But before I get too ahead of myself, I have to turn 29 first and round out the decade. CHEERS MY LOVES, MY TEACHERS IN LIFE, TO THOSE PASSING IN MY MEMORIES, AND TO THOSE YET TO COME.
#summerofAriana (inspired by George Costanza). . .
NEXT STOP, GALICIA FOR ONE MORE WEEK, AS I’LL BE CAMPING ON THE GORGEOUS ISLAS CÍES, AND THEN I’M OFF TO PARIS, FRANCIA WHERE I’LL TURN 29 ON BASTILLE DAY!