Motherhood and family play strongly in The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood. Even though only one sister bears a child in the story, family and the legacy left to future generations is important to the sisters. As it is to me. The Sandoval sisters look back at preserved memories in the ancestral diaries in order to make sense of their present. Nothing like that was left for me; I create my present from my interpretation of the past.
I had to stay in the kitchen and out of the way, but other than the lobsters, my entertainment was Claude’s beatnik girlfriend, replete with long, dark hair that fell in a straight line to her shoulders, bangs and big glasses, straight skirts and a turtle neck sweater. And flats. No one wore athletic shoes in those days. Women either wore heels, or they wore loafers like Claude. Did I mention that Claude was a woman? A crop-haired lesbian of the men’s shirt and khaki variety. But her girlfriends were feminine, pretty . . . and smart. They toted slim volumes of poetry and were kind to me.
On slow nights, I got to sit on a chair outside the kitchen and listen to the music and people watch. I learned quickly not to compliment the women. “A tightwad,” Mom would say, “women are the worst tippers,” or, I might get, “She’s cheating on her husband with the saxophone player.” This person was a classmate’s mom. Worse was when she told me that an attractive man at the bar was not only married, but had a male lover. There was no room for crippling romance in my mom's life.
Later, a good-looking young man, a "friend" of mom's, stopped at our home to drop off some LP’s: Gershwin, Ravel, Mozart. Mom played honky-tonk love songs; this music was new and complex. He was on his way to Spain to study flamenco.
This blog also appears in Latino Voices at the Huffington Post: