October 14, 2008
Assignment #2: Filler Page for “A Shot at It” and “Epilogue”
El mono puede tal vez vestir de seda, pero el mono sigue siendo un mono.
Although the monkey might dress in silk, monkey it still is.
I didn’t sleep the entire following week, and Mami began to worry. All her remedies were foreign to my stomach. Day in and day out I felt more uneasy and my stomach knotted at the thought of the interview. It had been a cold, rainy week and I remember sitting at the window sill when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Que pasa, Negi?” Mami asked.
“Nada, I’m just tired.”
I looked at her. Her weary, sad eyes were replaced by bright, hopeful eyes. They had taken on that trance ever since we moved to Brooklyn. Mami became someone completely different from the Mimi I knew back home. The long house dresses worn with flip-flops and the long, black hair pulled back into a loose pony-tail were replaced with short dresses worn with heels and a tight, sleek that sat on her head. She wore make-up almost every, and I grew to hate her artificial look. Mami traded in everything she knew and had back in Puerto Rico, for the artificial life. She no longer smelled of the spices that I so loved and knew her by. If she ever did go out smelling like the Puerto Rican salchichas or sancocho, she would storm out complaining.
“Where I work, no one goes about smelling like oregano! Nadie! They look at me strangely when I arrive smelling like Puerto Rico!” she steamed.
I knew I couldn’t be too harsh on her. I was following in her footsteps. Many of the times, after she left for work early in the morning I would sneak into her room and steal a few sprays of perfume. I didn’t want the school kids to think I was any more different than I was already perceived as.
Mami sat down across from me on the window sill. She looked at the rainy day and her eyes filled with tears. I looked away, because I was almost crying too. This was my last chance to prove I was worthy of setting a good example for my younger brothers and sisters, that I could stand out from my siblings and make Mami proud. If I was accepted into Performing Arts High School I would be able to have Mami’s lap one last time. She would wrap her world around my success and I would finally see some good in coming to America. My redemption lay in the hands of the people that Mami said hated us most, the Americanos, but I hoped they would be kind to me this first and last time.
I was sitting in English class, my favorite class, when Mr. Barone called me into his office. I felt my heart squeeze and release, squeeze and release. I walked down the hall and into his office. The sun shone in and warmed up my face.
“Have a seat Esmeralda,” he directed me towards the seat in front of his desk, the same one where he told me about sending me to a private school. I sat, nervous and frightened at the thought that I might not have made it.
“How are you doing?”
“Did I get in?” I asked, without even remembering to respond to his question.
He sat back into his seat, put his glasses on his head, and smiled.
“Congratulations. They want you.”
I don’t remember exactly how everything went after that, but happiness flooded my body for the first time since I came to Brooklyn.
At home, Mami was in the kitchen cleaning. I ran up the stairs and threw myself into her arms. I started crying, shocked that I had been accepted into the school of opportunities.
“What’s going on, Negi?” she asked, pulling me back.
“I made it Mami, I made it!” I said in between tears.
She hugged me and together we cried, still holding onto that last strand of hope. We had uprooted from what we knew best, but this the beginning of a better life we had always wanted.