The Spanglish Girl Diaries
Season Two Diary No. 13:
Hair flowing in the wind, 90s Chicano hip hop booming and a beautiful convertible lowrider, we were the poster children for a lowrider magazine photo shoot. Cristiano at the wheel, me in the passenger seat and Lupe and Adolfo in the back, we sang along to an NB Ridaz song and reminisced about our teenage years.
Turns out Cristiano and Adolfo were at one time, possible gangsters. Although neither would confirm it, they all but alluded to possible gang affiliation in high school, sharing stories of wild times.
I looked back at Lupe and glared. She smiled sheepishly and pointed out, “More reason to be proud of them. Look how far they’ve come.”
Cristiano took note of my judgmental glare and playfully asked, “What? Don’t tell me you never did anything bad in high school?”
Insulted, I shot back, “No. I actually didn’t. I was a goody too shoes: President of a diversity club, yearbook editor, no boyfriends. Seriously, I’ve always been a good girl and proud of it.”
Lupe, clearly wanting me to impress Cristiano, shouted, loud enough for us to hear her over the wind, “That’s not true. In college, she shut down the Las Vegas strip to protest racist anti-immigrant laws. No joke, her and her two friends, she had FBI and police threatening her. She’s in newspaper articles. You can look it up if you don’t believe me.”
Cristiano turned to look at me and I couldn’t help but notice the mischievous grin on his face. Amused and delighted that I had it in me to be bad, he teased, “That’s hot.”
Bashfully I smiled and replied, “Whatever turns you on.”
It then occurred to me, this was my chance to test him. I wanted to see just how progressive he was in his views, so I mentioned, “I’m a feminist too. I believe in equal and fair pay for women, the right to choose. I also don’t believe my only purpose in life is to have kids and keep a house. In fact, if I every marry again and have kids, I expect my husband to help with everything: chores, cooking, caring for the kids, it should be half and half.”
His expression changed instantly. His smile all but turned to a frown and he now looked scared. Not done testing him, I added, “Oh. And politics are very important to me. I could never be with a Republican, especially not a Trump supporter. No way, for me it’s a matter of morality. What about you?”
Lupe all but began to choke. Her coughs were so brutal, I turned to make sure she didn’t need my help. Oddly enough, Adolfo, at that very moment, also shouted, “Hey, Cristiano, I need to go pee. Pull over!”
Lupe’s cough miraculously disappeared and she seconded Adolfo, shouting, “Me too!” and adding, “ I also think we should switch seats.”
Cristiano, as startled and confused by their sudden outbursts shouted back, “You guys can’t hold it? How old are you!” He then eyed Adolfo in the rear view mirror and directly warned, “Cabron, you pee in my car, you’re dead.”
It then hit me, why the sudden outbursts, and I froze. Horrified, I turned to Cristiano and asked with distress, “Oh my God. You’re Republican? Worse, you support Trump, don’t you? That’s why they’re acting like that?” I could see I was right because he sat up and tensed, as if I’d just accused him of something awful—which, I had…
When he didn’t respond, my sense of righteousness got the best of me and I criticized, “How do you sleep at night? What do you tell your immigrant family and muslim friends? And you, a Mexican! Where is your dignity and sense of community! What would your immigrant grandparents say?”
I saw his knuckles tighten, gripping the wheel in frustration. He also refused to look at me and kept his eyes straight on the road. His only acknowledgement that he had heard me was that he now moved his neck to and from, cracking it, as if he was stressed.
I was about to tell him this trip was a waste of our time now that I knew he was a Trump supporter, but before I could get in another word, Lupe poked her head into the front between us and shouted, while pointing ahead, “Pull over! Gas station.”
Cristiano listened and did just that. He jerked the car to the left, violently, causing the wheels to squeal. As soon as we were parked, I jumped out, not wanting to be left in the car alone with him and followed Lupe to the restroom.
Once inside, I began to ask Lupe what our options were for cutting the trip short. Lupe, however, didn’t want to hear it: she reminded me Cristiano not only paid for the trip, but was Adolfo’s best friend. She warned, “You’re overreacting, once again. If you make us go back, Adolfo and Cristiano’s friendship may pay the price.”
I knew Lupe would never understand, but I stood my ground. I reminded her our grandparents were immigrants and that a person who could support Trump was seriously lacking in intelligence and standards.
Lupe finally saw my point and agreed he and I would never work. She also apologized, claiming she had entirely overlooked our differences in politics, but still begged me not to bail.
Realizing it would be harsh of me to demand we all turn around, and also acknowledging Cristiano and I really weren’t anything, I agreed to stay, but reiterated that after this weekend, this whole Cristiano and Cristina thing was over.
Lupe was so relieved she hugged me and thanked me. She also promised we’d still have fun and shared with me activities she had looked up on the island, like messages, biking and kayaking.
When we returned to the car, Cristiano and Adolfo were already siting upfront. Cristiano shouted, “Girls in the back!”
The irony of his comment was too much given what I now knew of his political views and I replied, “ Of course, where else would a man like you put us,” All but implying that because he was a Trump supporter, he was a sexist.
Cristiano didn’t miss my point. He caught the message clearly and rose, pulling open his door and tossing the keys at me. His movements were so quick, I was both startled and confused.
Then it all made sense, to make a point and prove me wrong, he challenged, “Fine, girls in the front. You drive. And just so know, I don’t ever let anyone drive my cars: Not my family or friends, female or male.” He emphasized the male part.
I heard Lupe and Adolfo scream: Lupe with glee, Adolfo in disbelief. Adolfo shouted, “What the Fuck? I’ve asked to drive your car how many times?”
Fear hit me. I didn’t want to drive his car! It was huge and beautiful. What if I damaged it on accident?
I was about to tell him this when I looked up and noted how cocky he looked. I realized he was bluffing, fully believing I would not actually take his offer to drive. For this reason only, I refused to back down: To his horror, I got in the front seat, pulled the seat forward and revved the engine.
I could tell it made him nervous and I loved it. Wanting to keep his cool and pretend he was really ok with me driving the car, he anxiously counseled, “Hey, hey, hey, careful! She’s old.”
Just to make him a little more nervous, I revved the engine again and squealed out of the parking lot. I saw him lean back and cover his eyes meanwhile Adolfo shouted, “See, she doesn’t even know how to drive it!”
Lupe on the other hand was having the time of her life. She reached for her bag and pulled out a Selena CD and turned up the volume. The men were not happy, but we were overjoyed. With Bidi Bidi Bom Bom on repeat the whole drive, and my and Lupe’s hair tossing wildly in the wind, we sang along fully embracing control of the radio and car. I was having so much fun, I forgot for a moment there was a Trump supporter amongst us…
When we arrived to the island, we learned Cristiano arranged for two horse carriages to take us to the hotel: One for Lupe and Adolfo and the other for me and him. This was beyond awkward given the exchange we had had, earlier.
To avoid having to talk to him, I admired the island’s beauty: With spring upon us, the air was cool and crisp. There were no cars allowed, so it was as if we had been transported into another time. The horse carriages that rode along the main avenue, past antique themed shops and eateries, made me all but lose my breath. I felt like I was in a Thomas Kincaid painting. Our picturesque surroundings were so perfect it almost felt dreamlike.
Cristiano took note of my delight. He stated, proudly: “I knew you’d like it.”
My heart sank as I recalled he had planned all this to impress me. I realized for the first time that perhaps I had been too harsh about the whole Trump thing…
We arrived to the hotel and I was left spellbound by its charm: It stood against the lake and reminded me of a mansion in the old South. Pillars lined a patio that wrapped around the entire front. Lounge chairs lined a private beach and overlooked a beautiful light house.
A women and butler arrived at our carriage and welcomed us, asking us to follow. I could see ahead that Lupe and Adolfo had already headed inside.
When I entered the lobby, I stopped dead in my footsteps, awe-struck just as much by the inside as I was by the outside of the hotel. Antique furniture, a grand piano and hardwood floors made up the lobby. Huge windows with long flowy satin curtains let in the lake breeze. From those same windows, rays of sun light shined through, creating a magical glow in the lobby. To the left was a master dining room and to the right a library. I was so busy taking in the beauty of the rooms, I hadn’t even noticed Cristiano had moved ahead to the counter to check us in.
I then heard a familiar voice and turned, Adolfo, not at all impressed with the hotel, was frantically searching for his cell phone signal throughout the lobby. Once or twice, he cursed in Spanish, both embarrassing Lupe and causing her to snap. She hissed, “Forget the phone, that’s the whole point of this trip, to spend time together. Now put the phone away, or I’ll toss it in the lake.”
I heard the front desk clerk announce we were all checked in. The individuals who had greeted us returned and lead us all to our rooms. To my alarm, Lupe and Adolfo were taken to the opposite side of the hotel. Cristiano noticed my panic and offered to see if they could change our rooms. His concern seemed sincere, and it forced me to realize I was being ungrateful.
My heart softened and I replied, “No. It’s ok. I’ll be fine, but thank you for offering.”
It seemed for the moment we had reached a truce. Even if there was no chance of a relationship, at least, we could be cordial. I also decided then and there, I’d pay him back for the trip. Not because I had to or because I was angry, but because I really did love this place and I didn’t want him to feel like I was using him—or liked I owed him. If I was going to truly enjoy myself this weekend, I needed to be here on my own terms.
Later that evening:
As I waited for Cristiano, Lupe and Adolfo to meet me so we could walk to dinner, I sat on the patio, looking out at the sunset. I had brought several summer dresses to wear. The one I had on tonight was my favorite: It was long and flowy. The straps wrapped around my neck and tied at the back. The pattern was a pink and black rose print.
Adolfo had made reservations for us to eat at a restaurant on the main avenue. As I waited for them, I lounged on the patio, fully basking in the beauty of the view.
Ahead of me stood the light house, surrounding by bright pink and orange hues created by the setting sun. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, striving to be entirely present in the moment. I wanted to breath and taste the cool air.
I heard someone take a seat next to me and it startled me. I opened my eyes to find it was Cristiano. A little embarrassed he had caught me, I explained, “I was trying to take in the fresh air.”
He smiled and looked at me with a look that I could only describe as cariño. I realized this was the perfect opportunity to offer to pay him back for the trip. Wanting to be careful with my words, not to offend him, I gently stated, “I really do appreciate you inviting me and planning all this. I truly am grateful and excited to be here.”
He looked down, took a deep breath, then looked back up and settled his eyes on the lighthouse. After seconds of silence he replied, “I was hoping to win you over, but I give up. I can’t keep chasing someone who doesn’t want to give me a chance.”
I felt shame and guilt. Wanting to try to make things right, I explained, “I don’t want to take advantage of your kindness. I know you planned this trip with different expectations, so I’d like to pay you back for my part.”
My words backfired and he took offense. He shot back, “I could care less about the money, I’m more pissed that you think I’m some sexist pig.”
I felt my body stiffen. His voice was cold and angry and it made me uneasy. Realizing he wasn’t understanding where I was coming from on the whole Trump thing, I tried to reason with him and replied, “I’m sorry, but for me, politics really is a deal breaker. I have strong views and I want someone who shares my values. It’s important to me.”
Cristiano looked at me for a few seconds. He then reached for my hands, catching me entirely off guard. I tried to pull my hand away, but he wouldn’t let me and instead, stroked them to assure me he wasn’t meaning to cause me harm. He then pleaded, “What if I could respect your views and not try to change them. Would that be enough?”
He wasn’t getting it. It wasn’t that simple, so I had to explain further, “Eventually, it would matter. I can’t be with someone who thinks racism, sexism and xenophobia is ok. I mean what does that say about you, that you would tolerate such things?”
He dropped my hands and stood. He then turned to face the lake and asked with his back turned to me, “What was your ex-husband?”
I was so caught off guard with what Luis and his political views had to do with any of this, I asked Cristiano for clarification. He turned to face me and brutally shamed me by pointing out, “He was Democrat, right? And how did that turn out for you? From what Adolfo told me, your husband treated you like shit: cheated and left you without so much as a goodbye.”
I all but jumped out of the patio chair. His word hurt so much, they were like a slap to my face. Luis cheating on me was none of his business. I was beyond enraged and made a mental note to ask Lupe, to tell Adolfo, to never again share details from my personal life with anyone.
As if he hadn’t said enough, Cristiano continued, “So what? Now you’re going to shut down? Shut every guy out who isn’t perfect just because he might hurt you? You not wanting to be with me because of my political views is bullshit. You haven’t even bothered to ask why I’m a republican. You’re damaged!”
I was now so infuriated, I neared him, closing the distance between us, to make it clear, I wasn’t intimidated. He, however didn’t budge. He stood his ground to, challenging me, and looked directly into my eyes.
I had the words at the tip of my tongue, I was going to tell him he was out of line, that he had no business bringing up my ex and that I had every right to be picky, but I couldn’t. To my own horror, my eyes filled with tears and I broke down.
His words were too harsh, too brutally honest and they broke me. That he called me damaged and reminded me of my failed marriage hit me with a weight I could not explain.
Shocked, and mortified by my weakness, I turned and ran towards the lake, as far from him and the hotel as I could possibly get.
I heard him follow, his footsteps racing behind mine as he realized with remorse he had said too much. He shouted, “Cristina, please, wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean those things.”
Having reached the beach and with nowhere else to run, I turned and faced him. Taking note that there were no people around and with no pride left, I shouted,
“I’m careful, not damaged. There’s a difference! And let’s not forget I have every right to be careful with you. The first day I met you, you told me you use your club to get girls. That you support Trump is just another thing about you that I don’t like!”
I could see that hurt him. His eyes softened and his gaze deepened. I continued,
“And if I’m careful it is because for the first time in my life I’m finally happy and free and at peace! It took me a long time to get here and I’m not about to give it all up for just anyone!
And if you really cared about me, you wouldn’t try to buy me or rush me into falling for you. You would give me time, show me with actions, not money, that you care and you respect me and you want me for the right reasons.”
He was now looking at me with understanding, I could see from the look in his eyes, he got it. He confirmed this by stating, “You’re right. I’m sorry…”
I cut him off, needing to share one last thing. I shouted, while doing my best not to start crying again, “I came. This was me giving you a second chance, but after the whole Trump thing, I just knew this would never work. I know you think I’m overreacting, but I’m not. My values are important to me and you saying you support Trump, to me, shows a lack of moral and intelligence and I just can’t be a part of that.”
Cristiano, clearly at his wit’s end with the whole Trump thing, shouted, “I never said I support Trump, you assumed it! I’m a Marco Rubio Republican! I let you believe I was a Trump supporter because I couldn’t believe that after all I did to get you on this trip and make you happy, that you would cut me off! Just like that! And all because of my political views?”
It hit me like a pound of bricks that we were fighting about nothing. He didn’t support Trump…
I heard Lupe in my conscience yell at me, “See, assuming and overacting, again!”
I began to feel my head pound. Overwhelmed, I took a seat on the beach and laid down. To my surprise, he came and sat next to me and asked, “So now that you know I’m not a Trump supporter, and that I didn’t mean all the things I said, can we please start over and enjoy this trip?”
Too embarrassed to look at him, I kept my eyes closed and realized, for the first time, why Lupe set me up with him. Who other than a once gang member, to understand and be able to handle a person as flawed and complicated as me. Maybe he was just what I needed. Someone who was not afraid of my craziness and who wasn’t shy about calling me out on my own crap…
I couldn’t ignore the fact that Cristiano had just seen the ugly side of me and he was still here…
He was willing to accept me for who I was—a feminist, fierce Democrat and damaged.
Realizing he was here for all the right reasons, I finally let my guard down. I reached for his hand and replied, “I have to give it to you for still being here, most men would have run, scared.”
He replied, “Well, I’m not going to lie. I thought about dropping you off on the side of the road, earlier. But I didn’t, mainly because I knew Adolfo and Lupe wouldn’t let me.”
I laughed. He then turned to me and stated, in a more serious tone, “I really like you. I hope you can see that now. And as for the whole club and girl thing, just know I’m passed all that. I’ve had my fun and I’m ready for something real.”
I now turned to look at him knowing fully well that what I was about to say was going to surprise him. I replied, “But I’m not done having fun. I just began, so let’s take our time. I say we stay friends for a while, build on the friendship and see where it goes.”
I was right, he was not expecting me to say this, but still, he understood and promised to give me the time and space I needed. His only request, “Don’t forget to include me in your fun.”
I smiled and squeezed his hand playfully, assuring him I would make sure to do so, but also reminding him, however, that my idea of fun and his may be very different. He asked for clarification and I explained that while he used his club to get girls, I use my looks to get free ice cream from the Paletero man. He thought this was the funniest thing ever, and broke out in laughter.
We spent another hour on the beach in each other’s arms talking about normal things, like trying to find the big dipper, arguing over who was prettier and bashing each other’s political views. I made fun of little Rubio and he poked fun at crooked Hillary. The only thing we could agree on, with great excitement, is that for my birthday, Cristiano was going to buy me a Trump piñata. And with that we put the whole Trump thing to rest.
This date would go down as the most, non-romantic romantic date, either of us had ever been on. If that makes any sense…
New diary to be posted April 6th