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Friday, March 11, 2016

Portrait

This portrait was taken on the Normandie hill before getting to the 101 freeway. It spans from Normandie and Melrose to Normandie and Beverly. This hill has strengthened my legs over the years; I've ran from the bottom to the top trying to catch buses, rides, or a dealer depending on the day. Unfortunately, in my portrait, you would not even be able to tell where this is.
You can barely see anything actually, not even my own face. The only thing that shines bright and is visible is the word tortillera, right across my eyes, that translates into lesbian. The first time I ever heard this word, I was with my mother and handful of her girlfriends. They were all sitting down, gossiping about god knows what and I was hardly paying attention because what kid cares about asuntos de adultos(adult matters)...boring. It was not until she said the word tortillera, that I froze. I had never even heard the word before but I already knew it was going to mean something sexual. When I asked my mom, she explained to me that tortilleras are lesbians and that's what people call them in Monterrey, her hometown in Mexico.
I knew at that instant, that I too was a tortillera. I spent years trying to convince myself otherwise however. I did not feel at peace with these feelings I was having towards other women because I knew that my mami would love me unconditionally, it was and continues to be my papa that I worry about. The more I tried ignoring these feelings or hoping it was just a phase, the more depressed it made me.
I committed to just being a drunk and swore off any sort of romantic relationships with any gender. It was all about sex, partying, and crass behavior. Through that period of time, my image of myself, much like the one in my portrait, was almost unrecognizable. I was doing all this damage to myself just to conceal an identity that was so obviously permanent, like the letters across my eyes.
I came to college and began to meet other people who had gone through the same feelings of isolation and pain because of who they were and felt as if I had finally found home. I began to see that there was a world outside of the one I was living in, in which it was okay to be who I was and love who I want to love. I feel that over the past couple of years, I have really began to start flourishing. I am now at peace with myself and love who I am but sometimes, my image and identity still feel a little unrecognizable.
When I go visit my parents, I am comfortable sharing a lot of my personal life with mami because I know I can tell her anything. My papa and I, however, have a different relationship. We talk about college, my plans after, gossip about what our family in Nicaragua is up too, and politics. We never talk about love or relationships but he keeps assuming I will marry a man and even though it is written right across my face, he still can't see it.

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