Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The sounds of my childhood

So, I'm not a real Mexican. I'm okay with that. Mexicans are people from Mexico, and I ain't that. I consider myself Hispanic, Latina, but most of all, Tejana (a Hispanic born Texan). I was born and raised in Texas and that's where my heart will always be.

I can recall all the times I attended my cousins' quinceaneras (15th birthdays), weddings, graduations, and Tejano Days at the Houston Rodeo where Tejano music blared. Polka music with accordions filled the air, along with the occasional mariachi band, with their lead, female vocalist belting out lovely, Latin lullabies with gusto. I can hear it in my head, echoing in the distance.

I can remember watching the mariachi bands, strumming away on their acoustic guitars, wearing Texas-sized sombreros, with trumpet players blasting away at the highest, high notes, with sweat running down their faces, with their mariachi costumes shining in the lights, glistening like a shiny, new Corvette. I can remember being in awe at the beautiful melodies and the power of the lead singer's voice as it echoed through the guitars. Microphones were never needed to hear their voices. Instead, their voices carried through the night, bellowing with emotion, filling the arena or hall. I marveled at their unbridled talent, most of which was God given. I was always transfixed on the lovely sounds the mariachi bands created. I'm still in awe.

However, now those sounds are only memories. They are only found in my head or on YouTube. Since I live in Japan, I'm missing out on all the quinceaneras, weddings, graduations, and Tejano Days at the Houston Rodeo. I can't turn on the radio and turn the dial to the local Tejano music radio station. Obviously, that doesn't exist here. Occasionally, I log onto Houston's Puro Tejano Station 102.9 FM to listen to the music I yearn to hear. It helps to satisfy my need, but it's not the same.

Since Husband and I didn't grow up the same way, he doesn't understand how or why hearing Tejano music makes me as happy as it does. Sometimes I desperately want him to twirl and whirl me around, with hips swaying to the polka beat or to the sultry sounds of a sad, mariachi song. But I know that will never happen. Husband doesn't know how to dance to Tejano music. Since Husband's mother is Filipino, he didn't attend the same quinceaneras or weddings I attended. To Husband, Tejano music has no significance.

But for me, I remember the decorated, smoke-filled halls where we celebrated birthdays, graduations, and weddings. I can remember my father, slightly intoxicated, holding my mother tight to his hips as they danced across the dance floor in unison with my aunts, uncles, and cousins swirling around them, happiness on their faces, happiness in the air. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the music. Whatever it was, it was happiness.

The music reminds me of all the happiness of my Tejano childhood.

I'm sad my son won't get to have the same Tejano childhood I enjoyed.


Anonymous said...

The cultures, customs, and traditions Jude is introduced to are determined by his parents. Rather than playing Apple Bottom Jeans and other similar music, why not play some Tejano music instead? This winter, make some more tamales with YaYa and Popo.

Don't forget about the Southwestern/Southern influence on our lives. I am sure there are other Texans on base. Seek them out. Introduce your kid to them. Maybe someone will teach you how to make fried okra, chicken fried steak, and Luby's mac and cheese.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget you have a Luby's cookbook!!!! I do remember when Jude listened to his first mariache group! His eyes were wide opened and he wouldn't even blink!!Hope when you guys come back to Texas you can attend some Tejano functions. We were invited to a
15th. birthday for one of your daddy's relatives Nov. 14th. Hope we can get to go. It's been a while since we've been to one. We miss it, too!!! Especially the music!!! Well, the dancing, too. Getting a bit old for the GOOD OLD DANCING!!!!!!!!!!!