The first one was from Shamrock, New Mexico or Texas (I've forgotten which) where my family and I were hitting the Nacho Fry Box, again at Taco Bell at a gas station. (Yes, the boxes are that good.) I was talking to a mom about my kids and her two little girls. She was maybe in her late forties with intense curly hair and tan skin that comes from working too long in the sun. She had that matron look about her, plump, but also an "I don't give a shit what you think of my body" attitude. She had a reserved look at first, but then opened up when my kids, my ever-squirrely kids, sat at all the tables and talked to all the patrons. We talked about her youngest child, this high spirited little girl who was the spitting image of her.
She said to me, "We can't go nowhere. This one gets car sick."
I asked, "How old are you?" (Four) I said, "Mija, vomiting in that bag is going to be a very important life skill." She just kept smiling over her second bean burrito, while her sister commented on how incompetent the younger one was at aiming for the bag, recounting in great details all the recent times she failed to aim for the bag at all.
It was 11:30a.m. and as we were leaving, the mom said, "Be safe on I-40." I turned and asked, "Why?" "Because of all the drunks."
??? "Drunks this early in the morning?"
She answered, "It's Saturday." I walked away, looking at the highway in a whole new light, and told my husband the advice she gave me. He, too, looked at the highway in a whole new light.
The second story was again about parenting. I captured that one at the Drury during drinks and dinner. (Yes, the hotel offers dinner and breakfast, always.) I was standing in line with Antonio, ready to get my second complimentary margarita. Antonio and I had noticed earlier that this genius bartender had all the fixings for Shirley Temples, so we both got in line.
Antonio and I were bickering about something because he is 8 and at that annoying stage where he is holier than everybody else, especially his parents.
Somehow, the argument turned to his fake tattoo, which he has been working very hard at saving to the lengths of taping it up when he goes to the pool or takes a bath.
Well, this gentleman who was eavesdropping said, "You don't need to mark your body, just be good and work hard. All you really need are your tools. Be good to your Mom."
This wise stranger looked tired, with red eyes. He was maybe in his fifties with a nut brown round face, with almost indigenous features. He was maybe 5 foot 8 inches, and he had a glimmer in his eye, but he looked like he needed that vacation. He dressed as though he had just ended a long shift out in the fields or yard and wore a white T-shirt and tattered Levis. The wife, who we met a few minutes later, was well put together like she was on vacation.
Her hair was blonde and done up, you know that barrio blonde. She had bright red clothes and gorgeous, balanced make-up. She was little taller than him and had an imposing persona, strong.
I looked intently at Antonio when I said, "Thank you for that sage advice."
"My son is 16," he said sadly, "He doesn't come with us no more."
Internally, I was like, "The fuck?" But what I asked was, "You let him stay alone?"
"Yeah," he continued, "Love your mom and enjoy each other because it won't last long." Of course, I joked about the boy probably having a kegger, and he said, "Most likely, he hasn't picked up the phone."
Then the mom chimed in, "Yeah, he gets lost."
I asked, "What do you mean?"
"He goes to the mountains for days and gets lost. Last time for three days," she smiled.
I stared at them flabbergasted. If Antonio ever pulled a stunt like that, I would microchip and GPS tracker his ass! I wished them a great rest of their vacation and went to sit with Antonio to spend some mom time with him.
I realize now that man was probably more sad than tired, and in my heart, I'm saying a prayer for his boy to get home safely.
Well, that's all for stories. :) You know, I decided to keep collecting stories. After all, sometimes the best stories come from my relatives. I'm not going to say the cliche about life and fiction.
On the writing front, today I am copy-editing a novella for a former student of mine who no longer attends HWC. She is going to give one more read to La Bruja del Barrio Loco which I hope to launch this Friday.
Oh and on another exciting bit of author news, my friend Brett processed all the author head shots he took last Sunday. I put them to a vote on the Writers Helping Writers site on Facebook and my own wall. This one got the most votes, and yes, my readers actually helped sway me in this decision. That great shot will be on the back of my book covers from now on. (See the cactus in the back?)
Well, I know this entry was rather long, but I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more vacation stories!
Today, stay close to your kids or those people you love, in case they fly away for a time. #Resist