Dee's Journal



Entry #8: In Rosa's kitchen.


Miguel came and picked me up but I wasn't sure I wanted to introduce him to my parents, so as soon as I heard him walk up the front steps, I went out. We said "hi" but I think both of us felt a little shy. He looked cute. His hair was slicked back but in a way I hadn't seen it before.

We took the bus downtown. I asked him where we were going but he said he wanted it to be a surprise. After a short ride, we got off and walked a few blocks. He took my hand. It felt nice.

We turned the corner at 4th Street and Presidio and we stopped in front of a Mexican restaurant. It was called Mi Familia (I know just enough Spanish to know that means "my family") We walked in and there was this big guy with a smiling face. He had a mustache and thick black hair, just like Miguel's. He came right over and gave Miguel a big hug. Turns out was Miguel's Uncle Carlos and that Mi Familia is his family's restaurant! His uncle was so nice to me and he introduced me to his daughter, Marita. She wasn't so sweet. Not mean or anything, just not at all friendly. I've seen her at school and I was wondering what her problem was but just then Rosa came in from the kitchen and I stopped worrying about what was going on with Marita.

Rosa is Uncle Carlos' ex-mother-in-law (if that makes any sense). You see, Uncle Carlos used to be married to Anita, (who was Rosa's daughter). But Anita ran off with some other guy a few years ago. Rosa had been living with Carlos and Anita and when Anita left, Rosa decided that she would be better off staying with Carlos, who had always been good to her. She also knew that she could be a big help to him starting his new restaurant. So there she was!

Rosa was very sweet. She took both of my hands in hers and looked deep into my eyes. Grandma Webster used to do too. ( I think it was her way of finding out if I was all right, without having to come out and ask me.) Her hands were warm, like Grandma's. Of course Rosa was much shorter and rounder than Grandma Webster, who was tall and tended to be kinda bony, but there was something familiar about her. Rosa asked me if I wanted to come into the kitchen with her and watch her make tortillas. I said sure.

In the kitchen she told me that when she was a just a little girl in Mexico, she had learned to make tortillas from her Grandmother. While she was rolling out the dough and slapping it into shape, she asked me about my family. I told her I lived with my parents and my older sister and younger brother. She asked me if my grandparents were still alive and all of a sudden I started to cry!

Rosa, she wiped the corn flour off of her hands and came over and hugged me. For a minute, that made me cry even more! But then I smelled some sweetness in her hair... like gardenias or something... I dunno, but it smelled nice. And I felt so safe in her arms that I just stopped crying.

She told me that she could see spirits. And that my Grandma's spirit was near by! She asked me if I could feel it. I said I couldn't. Then she told me to close my eyes and be very quiet. And she asked me to listen and to tell her what I heard.

I told her I heard something sizzling on the stove and water dripping in the sink. I asked her if that was what she meant? No, Rosa said. "Listen some more." Then all of a sudden I heard it! It was the sound of that song from my dream where Grandma was sitting in a rocking chair picking sunflower seeds! Rosa said, "Let me hear the song." That really freaked me out! Because I wasn't saying anything. I mean how did she know I heard a song inside my head? But instead of asking her how she knew, I just started singing.

And here's how it came out:

Little bird, on the breeze

Knows which way the wind blows

In the sky

Through the clouds

Knows the way the wind flows

Up it flies

Don't look down

Never dreams

Of her returning

Where she goes

No one knows

Home is where she rests her head

When I opened my eyes Rosa was smiling at me. Remember last week when I said that I didn't feel like I belonged with my friends at school any more? Well, tonight, somehow, I felt like I belonged in that kitchen, with Rosa. Like somehow I had found a new home.

After a while Miguel came into the kitchen to find us. Rosa gave him a big hug and told him to take me out to the best table, by the window, and she would personally come and take our orders.

Miguel and I went out and sat down. The restaurant was busy, but not so busy that it was too noisy. I looked over the menu, but my Spanish isn't very good so I had lots of questions about what things were. I decided on chicken enchiladas and Miguel ordered a beef burrito. We had cokes and Uncle Carlos brought us salsa and tortilla chips to start with.

I liked that way I felt being there. I liked watching Miguel watch me across the table. I looked at the candle between us and I thought about what he said. About how a candle can help guide a spirit home. Maybe there was something for me at this place. Maybe Mi Familia could be my family too.




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