The best week

Here I am again, ending another year.

I tend to spend about a month anticipating the last week of the year, preparing for it, building it up. Then it hits, with ridiculous excitement and an abundance of love, I am overwhelmed and overjoyed – Christmas, Dustin’s birthday, our anniversary, New Year’s Eve – all crammed into one short week. And just as quickly as it arrives, it passes. The new year begins, and I am left thinking, “Now what?”

The truth is that I despise the beginning of the year. I realize that many see it as an opportunity for a fresh start and all that nonsense, but I don’t. One can create a new beginning at any point, not just January. I instead see the first few months of the year as underwhelming in comparison to December, bleak and desolate by cause of the dreary weather, and seemingly never ending as I await all that is wonderful about springtime (blooming flowers, longer days, warmer weather, baseball, etc, etc…).

It just seems as though there is nothing for me to be excited about throughout January and February.

I suppose I could set new goals for myself, not necessarily as resolutions, but because I recently met my marathon goal and need something else to keep me busy. Just last week I was sitting outside eating lunch with my coworker (friend, really) when I noted that my one-year anniversary of working at ADC was coming up. This led us to reflect on the year that has passed, all we have achieved, what we would have liked to achieve, and what we see ourselves striving for in the upcoming year. That’s a lie. He talked about his planned endeavors, lofty and inspiring they be. Me? I got nothing.

What to do, what to do.

Study and refresh my memory enough to retake national boards and finally get my license? I allowed my registration to expire years ago because I was broke and unsure about what I wanted to do with myself. But now may be the time to smarten up and get it done. I always yearn to be a more creative person. Perhaps I could take up art journaling, combining that with writing, drawing, photography, and calligraphy? Health and fitness-wise, how do I top running a marathon?! Improve on my time? Get as close to a Boston-esque pace as I can? Train for a duathlon perhaps? I’d have to get a proper bike for that… Yikes. I should probably stick to running and only cycle for funsies.

Meh, I will figure it out. It took half a year to decide to run Dallas, after all. We shall see.

For the present moment, I will continue to focus on this week and all the celebrating left to do. My bestie also happens to be back from Colorado and I am anxious to see her and play catch-up. I am hoping that we can reunite tomorrow.

Today has been somewhat uneventful, which is probably a good thing. Last night, my fella went out with friends while I stayed home for a quiet night in. I made myself dinner, watched an HBO documentary, did some light cleaning, and simply relaxed (yes, cleaning is relaxing to me because catharsis, you know?). I went to bed a little past midnight – the fella and I had taken naps together in the afternoon so I was not terribly tired – and looked forward to an early start to the following day.

It was not to be.

According to my phone’s log, I took a call from the fella at 2:22 am this morning. He asked me to help him – he was outside, not far from our apartment, and had apparently taken a nasty spill. There is a pond in the center of our complex, below what I consider ground level (i.e. the level upon which the apartment buildings are standing). A path leads from the leasing office, where Dustin’s Uber driver dropped him off (hooray for him being responsible and not driving, right?), to the lot in front of our building. The path is actually part of a retaining wall and along it is a five to six-foot vertical drop down to the pond’s level. Not very safe for lonely, inebriated men trying to get home in the pitch black night. One misstep over the ledge and down you go…

Poor fella.

When I reached him, he was lying on his back and moaning in pain. It took all I had in me to help him up and start making our way home. He told me his right ankle was too painful and that he could not bear weight on it so I had him throw his right arm around me and bore the weight for him. What a task!

I cannot lie, I was extremely annoyed. I had been awakened from my sleep to deal with drunkenness. Of course, he was belligerent, too! Once inside our place, he immediately allowed himself to fall to the floor, which further infuriated me because I knew I would have to do the work to get him up all over again. I wanted to scream at him to get his shit together and get himself to our bed.

Oh, but his face was one as full of sorrow as it was of pain. How many times has he dealt with my own inebriated shenanigans? And is this not our week? The week we celebrate finally meeting and starting our relationship? Our relationship that has been through so much turbulence in its nearly six-year length, yet still manages to work somehow and generate happiness. We may not be married (not complaining, just stating the fact), but in sickness and in health, yes?

I helped him to bed, removed his shoes, and asked if he had hit his head. He was ranting about the night he had, so I chose not to bother with trying to get an answer out of him and instead checked his head for injury myself. I got a little peace of mind from not finding any evidence of wounds and decided that it was safe for him to sleep. After repeated apologies to me, he finally succumbed and was silent.

This morning, I walked to the store to buy him a Naked Juice to help with his hangover and Advil to help with his injury. It was not his ankle that was hurt – it was his foot. That thing is so swollen it looks like Bobby’s feet from Bobby’s WorldA short while ago, I taped it up to hopefully get the inflammation to subside. [sigh]

He is so lucky I love him.

But I am also lucky to have him.

Hmm. Suddenly, I am more excited to celebrate him and celebrate us. I think we’re gonna make it, that guy and me. The uncertainty that reigned over me this year is finally waning and I find myself being reminded of all the reasons I fell for him in the first place. He… He has been more mindful, I must say. I needed that. It has made all the difference and I feel the next phase of our romance making its welcome debut.

Yes, I needed that.

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This is how I write now.

Have you missed me mentioning how much I love my parents or how overwhelmingly grateful I am for both of them? I do it frequently – how can you have missed it?

You know, when I see others mention how they have wonderful parents and how much they appreciate them, I want to stop and say, “Okay, but you do not understand. You do not know how much more my parents have done not only for my brother and me, but for our cousins and even folks we are not related to. You do not comprehend how being parents encompassed the entirety of their beings and how loving us unconditionally came so naturally to them. There is no way you get it. That even though my brother and I are now 33 and 31, even though we are not perfect, even though my parents are not as able as they once were, they would both drop all else and run to our sides if either my brother or I asked them to. That is how amazing they are at their role as parents. Really.” That’s what I would say.

I thought of my parents today, which is why I am writing, of course. I was standing out at the bus stop, and a older Hispanic woman who had already been waiting there when I arrived turned to me.

“¿Hablas español?” she asked.

I replied that I did and she proceeded to take several DART maps out from her bag. With a soft and sweet voice, one that reminded me of my grandmother, she asked if the bus we were waiting for would take her to Addison. I told her that it would, but informed her that it would first head away from Addison, then loop and head back. It would take a while. She did not seem to mind and continued to wait there with me.

She explained that she had only recently moved to the apartment complex across the road and was not yet familiar with the bus routes in the area. There were complaints about how much these differ from those in the city. I have to agree. In the heart of Dallas, they run so much more often, seven days a week. Here, after the morning rush, they only run every hour or so and some do not run at all midday, nor on weekends. Freaking suburbs, ruining lives and such.

Anyway, our bus soon arrived and she grabbed a seat in the front while I headed towards the back. Other riders reached their destinations before I did and eventually, shortly before reaching my stop, she and I were the only ones still on the bus. She noticed the beep and announcement when I requested to be let off, turned to me, and asked me to explain to the driver that she was riding back to Addison. I did. The look of relief and indebtedness on her face melted my heart. I wished her luck and a wonderful day before I disembarked. I was happy.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for having made it your business to guarantee that I learn to read, write, and speak Spanish. Moments like the one I experienced this morning, that warm feeling in my gut, the sense of pride, the content smile on my face – they were all made possible because of you. Every time a person needing someone to translate asks if I speak Spanish, I am overcome by joy knowing that I will be making his or her day a bit easier, if only for a brief period, and I owe it you two. Thank you thank you thank you.

_______

Now. I am taking this post in a different direction. Specifically, a direction aimed at anyone who complains about immigrants not assimilating to life in America, immigrants who “refuse” to learn the tongue of the land.

Fuck you very much.

Seriously.

Do you really think that immigrants are unaware that learning English is in their best interest? Do you honestly believe that they don’t know that speaking the language might help their chances of success in this nation? Do you, you who must be so damn brilliant, truly figure that they simply do not want to learn it?

You idiots.

Of course they want to learn. Believe me. They know they could do much more with their lives here if they master the beast that is the English language. Many try. I have seen it. My own parents, my oh-so-amazing Mom and Dad, they tried and succeeded. Many others, including members of my own family, they have tried and failed. It happens.

Have you ever attempted to learn a new language? If you have a high school diploma from the States, I would imagine that you have. How did it go? Did you have class several times a week for several months throughout a couple years or so? Did you pass with flying colors? Are you fluent in that language now? Were you working around the clock to feed your family, the family you just uprooted from its native home and brought to a foreign land? Were you scared? Were you hungry? Were you missing the home you grew up in, the places your heart was familiar with, the land where people understood you when you spoke? Were you degraded by people who wished for you to go away? Were all these factors preventing YOU from kicking ass in that class and conquering that unfamiliar dialect? Huh?

Learning a new language is difficult enough. Doing so when you are merely trying to survive is that much more challenging. You get that, right? They cannot simply go to some magical English school every damn day until they’ve got it. I will tell you something else: I myself still have trouble with the English language, and I was born here. I have lived here my entire life. Yet there are many idioms I do not understand, many terms I am unfamiliar with, words that I still have trouble pronouncing. Eh. I do the best I can. Guess what – most people do!

Ugh, I apologize for calling you idiots earlier. Can I instead implore you to have some compassion? Can you have a heart? Can you be just an itsy bitsy tiny bit more understanding? Please? You can totally do it. As my Mexicans would say, “Sí se puede.”

_______

Y’all. I love my parents.
I love being fluent in Spanish.
I love being Mexican.
I love living in Dallas.
I love Texas.
I love “American” football.
I love Oxford commas.
I love helping others.
I love outcasts.
I love people.

Just be cool. And although they suck this year, go Cowboys.