The Spanglish Girl Diaries
Season Two Diary No. 15
As I pulled up to Carina’s house, I spotted Natalia peeking out the front window. Within seconds, the front door swung open and she came racing out, Carina following behind her. Excited to greet my new goddaughter, I jumped out of my car and neared her with my arms wide open.
We met each other with a hug. As I lifted Natalia and twirled her, she shrieked with glee and asked, “Can I call you fairy godmother Cristina?”
I took no convincing; Overjoyed by the idea, I replied, “Of course Princess Natalia.”
The laughter that escaped her warmed my heart. Carina reached us and I could see by the smile on her face, she found my and Natalia’s antics, adorable. I put Natalia down to greet Carina with a hug of her own. My first words to her, something I’d been dying to ask since I received the letter, were, “Are you sure you want me as her godmother?”
Carina left my embrace and placed her hands on her hips. I could tell by the glare in her eyes, she found my question frustrating.
Carina turned to Natalia and asked her to bring her, her purse from the house. As soon as Natalia was out of sight, Carina turned to me and asked, sharply: “Why would you even ask that?”
My voice filled with shame, I replied: “Does the church let divorced women be godmothers?”
Carina’s glare faded and her eyes filled with compassion. She could see I was genuinely worried.
Being the good friend that she is, to put me at ease and make it clear she was solid in her choice, she replied, her voice and body language full of defiance: “To hell with what the church thinks. Natalia is my daughter and I know what’s best for her. I picked you because I can’t think of a better role model for her: You’re kind, smart, independent. Seriously friend, how do you not see all that you are?”
I felt my spirit lift and my insecurities calm. To hear how one of my closest friends viewed me, was both humbling and flattering. That she was so certain, I was the right choice, took away my uncertainties about becoming a godmother and from that moment on, I was all in.
Natalia came flying out of the house with Carina’s purse hanging off her shoulder. As soon as she reached us, I shared with her I was going to treat her and Carina to a girl’s day out. First on the list was lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, then we would be off to get our nails done, and last, a trip to a toy store to buy Natalia whatever toys she wanted.
Upon hearing this, Natalia screamed with joy and raced to the car, excited to get going. Carina turned to me and warned me not to spoil Natalia too much or she’d always expect this much fun every time I visited.
I reminded Carina that I was now, officially, a fairy godmother, and as a result, had much to live up to. My exact words: “Well since I can’t turn a pumpkin into a carriage, the least I can do is take her to lunch and on a toy shopping spree.”
Carina laughed, but did not reply. I took her silence to imply that I had her full blessing to spoil my one and only goddaughter, and from that day on, I made it my goal to be the best madrina an ahijada could ask for.
As soon as we stepped inside the restaurant, Natalia took note of the cheesecakes. Her face and hands pressed against the window where the cakes were displayed, Natalia stood, mesmerized in a trance like state oohing and aweing.
I couldn’t help but laugh. I had never known anyone, but me, to get so excited by cheesecake. She was definitely my mini me, and I realized at that moment that Natalia and I were meant to be.
Although the restaurant was busy, we were seated quickly. Scanning the menu, I shared with Natalia and Carina my favorites. Once we placed our order, Carina pulled out a coloring book for Natalia.
Natalia pulled the book open and raised it to show me her most recent work. It was a Disney coloring book. The page she held up was an image of Cinderella and her prince. I congratulated Natalia on her coloring skills and told her the picture was beautiful, but I also made a mental note to myself that I would later need to give Natalia the “Cinderella Talk.”
Natalia’s attention quickly turned to finishing another page she had partly colored. Carina took this opportunity to fill me in on her current dating life, which like mine, had just turned interesting…
She shared that six months ago she met a man, and this one, she felt in her heart, could be the one. Carina was a single mother. Natalia’s father was no longer in the picture. How Carina managed to do it all, left me in awe. She was a wonderful mother and her children reflected it. They were caring, dedicated to school and happy.
To hear Carina had met a man she felt was promising, filled with me with happiness for her. She had been through much heartache and deserved to find love and I prayed this one would really be the one.
Curious, I asked her if it was official. Natalia jumped into the conversation for a brief second to answer for her mother. I tried to hide a smile, but failed as Natalia stated, “He always want’s to take us to dinner. I don’t like it because he always takes us to the same taco place.”
Carina laughed, but scolded Natalia in Spanish and told her to one, not interfere in adult conversation, but two, be nice to Manuel—who we would from this moment on refer to as Mr. Perfect.
Natalia, knowing very well her mother was serious, didn’t argue and went back to coloring.
Carina then turned the conversation to my love life and asked if there was anyone special in my life.
I felt myself tense. My hesitation to answer came from the fact that I didn’t know what Cristiano and I were. It wasn’t friendship, for sure, there was something more, but we also weren’t official…
Uncertain myself of our status, I simply replied, “I did meet someone through my cousins. So far so good. I really like him, but like you and Manuel, we are taking it slow.”
I noted the smile that formed on her face. I asked her why the smile and she replied, “I know you, If you didn’t think there was anything there, you wouldn’t waste your time.”
I smiled back because she was right, but didn’t say more. Just as we ended the conversation on love, our food arrived. By this point, I was starving. My last meal was breakfast before I left Wisconsin and made the 6 hour drive to Indiana. I was so hungry, I wasted no time and picked up my fork to begin eating the pasta I had ordered, which looked delicous…
Just as I had the pasta at my mouth, I heard, “Wait! We didn’t pray!”
I froze. Pray? OMG. I was the worst the godmother, ever…
Not wanting to set a bad example for my new goddaughter, I lied and pretended I had forgotten, but the truth, I never pray before meals…
Natalia seemed to have realized this without me even saying anything because she placed her hands together, looked me in the eyes, and stated, “Don’t worry, I’ll show you how.” She then went on to thank God for her new Madrina, her mom and cheesecake.
After lunch, we headed to a nail salon. The nail technician sat us in a cozy spot. In the center of the nail salon was an island like raised platform. On it were six grand massage chairs, all facing each other so that we could have our nails done together.
As our feet were washed and massaged, I took note of the smile on Natalia’s face. Sensing I was watching her, she looked up at me at that very moment watched me back. She then asked, “Can we do this again? Just you, me and mami.”
It was at that moment that it finally hit me that I was a Madrina. Her question brought to mind the fact that it was now my responsibly to make sure this little girl not only knew she was loved, but special. With my heart filled with joy and my soul filled with purpose, I responded, “Of course Princess Natalia. From now on, whenever I visit, this will be our special thing. Just you me and your mami.”
Natalia loved the idea so much, she clapped and cheered. She then stated, “I can’t wait to grow up and go to college like you.”
Confused, I asked why.
She replied, “Because I want to be like you Madrina.”
Still confused, I asked, “Like me how?”
Natalia then smiled and whispered, to keep the nail technicians from hearing, “Rich, Madrina. Then I can eat cheesecake, travel and get my nails done everyday.”
To learn she thought I was rich and ate cheesecake everyday made me laugh so hard, the technician working on my nails had to pause. I looked over at Carina to find she was beaming with pride. She then reached for my hand, held it, and replied, “See, that’s why I picked you.”
I felt my heart burst with joy: that Natalia, even at her young age, realized my education gave me the money and freedom to enjoy my life, made me happy. To know I set this example for her filled me with serious Madrina pride.
I also realized in that moment that the “Cinderella talk” was no longer necessary: By just being me, a single and independent woman, my goddaughter grasped that an education—not a man—is the true fairytale…
Carina’s house was abuzz with excitement. Voices and laughter filled every corner of the home.
In the kitchen, the women prepared the food. Outside, corridos blared as Carina’s uncles and brothers set up the yard for the party. And throughout the house, pounding footsteps echoed as children raced in and out of rooms, playing.
Natalia, wanting to join her cousins, asked , both politely and impatiently, “Am I ready Madrina?”
She had asked this, just as I placed the final bobby pin in her hair. As I revealed she was free to go, I turned her to face the mirror. The smile on her face left no doubt that she loved her hair, which I had curled and accessorizes with a floral crown.
Natalia cupped her face in her hands and replied, “I look like a real princess.”
I was about to remind her that she was a real princess when, startling us both, Carina barged into the room and collapsed on the bed, exhausted by all the cooking she had just completed. Carina looked as tired as she seemed. Her hair was up in a messy pony tail and on her clothes were food stains. Before I could say a word, Natalia screamed, horrified, “Mami! You can’t go to my baptism like that.”
Not wanting to hurt Carina’s feeling anymore than Natalia already had, I offered to do her hair.
I saw instant appreciation fill Carina’s eyes and she replied, “Thank you friend. I would really appreciate it.”
She then turned to Natalia and let her have it for the comment earlier. In Spanish, she yelled, “And you, Princess Natalia, I know I can’t go like this, but Mami has to worry about everyone before she can worry about herself. Now go tell your brothers to get ready because if get down there and they are still playing video games I’m going to throw that tv out.”
Natalia, feeling guilty, replied, “Ok, mami. Do you need me to help with anything else?”
Carina, now feeling bad about the way she had snapped at her, responded, “No my little princess and mami’s sorry she yelled.” Natalia then hugged Carina’s legs, before racing out of the room and going downstairs to give her brothers a piece of her mind and show them who was boss.
Carina and I could hear it all. Natalia shouted, “You two get ready now!”
We then heard the tv go silent…
Natalia, had turned it off. This became clear when we heard her oldest brother scream, “Natalia! We were just about to get to level four!”
Carina and I bursted into laughter. Carina then moved to the door and shouted, so loud the whole house would hear, “You guys better listen to your sister, and don’t you dare make her cry or I’ll have your uncle Jose deal with you.”
Embarrassed by all chaos, Carina turned to eye me. She then apologized for all the yelling and promised me her house wasn’t usually this crazy. To put her at ease, I reminded her “Oh friend, you forget I’m Mexican, too.”
She laughed, fully aware of what I really meant and then took a seat and allowed me to curl her hair.
With Natalia downstairs, we finally had an opportunity to really catch up and our conversation quickly turned to Manuel and Cristiano. Carina asked if I thought Cristiano was the one. I shared it was too soon to know, but also, that I wasn’t ready for marriage. At least not yet…
Upon hearing this, a mischievous smile formed on her face and she stated with excitement “ Well since we’re both still technically single, and this may be the last time we are both single together, what do you say we go out tonight, after the baptism?”
Taking note of the confusion on my face, she quickly explained that Natalia and her cousins had arranged a sleep over tonight at their grandmas, so Carina and I would be free after the baptism. She then shared that there was a huge baile in Indianapolis tonight and she could get us tickets.
I had not been to a baile in years. The thought of partying with Carina at a Mexican dance was an opportunity I could not pass up. To make it clear I was in, I asked with excotment, “Do you have boots and a hat I can borrow?”
Carina laughed so loud and hard, I thought she was going to stop breathing. She was likely laughing at the idea of me in a boots and a hat…
As I curled the final strand of her hair, she replied, finally answering my question, “Girl, you know I got boots and hats.”
I replied back, “That’s why I asked.” Then added “Round one of makeup and hair done. Round two, after the baptism.”
A mischievous smile returned to her face and she replied, “Yes, because baile hair and makeup is much different from baptism hair and makeup…”
Mass lasted for about an hour. When the time came, Natalia, Carina and I made our way to the front of the church to baptize Natalia.
The priest had me hold her and lean her towards the water. He then poured water over her forehead as he recited prayers. In the final part of the ceremony, he handed me a candle and asked that I light a larger one. The priest then turned to me and asked me to promise to guide Natalia and ensure she keeps God a part of her life.
Although I was by no means anti-religious, the responsibility of making sure Natalia kept God in her life, scared me. It was something I knew I had to get right because it was the whole point of being a godmother. That being the case, I realized my days of skipping church were over.
I decided then and there that in a good faith effort to be the best godmother I could be, I would return to church. But what I was also clear on was that my returning to church was is no way a compromise on my own beliefs, such as my support for gay rights or a woman’s right to chose.
As the mass came to an end, I crossed Natalia, giving her, her bendicion, then crossed myself.
I left church that day feeling as newly baptized as Natalia and it occurred to me that maybe me becoming a godmother was Gods way of bringing me back to churc..
The party lasted a good five hours. By 8pm, we were saying goodbye to the last of the guest to leave. As soon as we closed the door, Carina and I eyed each other, smiled, and then raced upstairs, for round two of hair and makeup, in preparation for the baile.
To start the fun, Carina asked, as she shuffled through her playlist, “Selena or Jenni?”
It was a hard choice, but I felt like tonight, was definitely a Jenni Rivera music kind of night.
Carina agreed and turned up the volume. Between singing along to the music, helping each other pick out outfits, re-curling our hair and applying makeup, we looked like two teenage girls getting ready for their first house party.
I was in the midst of applying eyeliner when my phone range. I froze, looked at Carina, and whispered, as if he could hear, “It’s Cristiano. What do I tell him?”
Carina, fully understanding my dilemma, replied, “Technically, you’re not his girlfriend yet, so I don’t see why he would care that we are going out to a dance.”
My only response was, “You know how men are…”
Carina shrugged her shoulders to imply “it is what it is.” Her last bit of advice to me, before leaving the room to go to the kitchen and make us drinks, “Well it’s better you two figure this all out now, than later. Just call him back and be honest. See what he says. And If he gets crazy jealous, well, that’s your opportunity to decide if this is really what you want…”
I realized she was right. In the end, that was the whole point of taking it slow and dating—to get to know each other. This would be a good test, to see if Cristiano was controlling or jealous…
As soon as she was out, I dialed Cristiano back.
He was quick to answer and his first words to me were, “How’s it going my love.”
Upon hearing how happy he sounded to hear my voice and his new nickname for me, my heart melted.
A thousand things ran through my head, one of them the idea that maybe he didn’t need to know everything about my life, at least not yet…
I had convince myself this was the right move, until, to my horror, he asked point-blank: “So what are you girls planning for tonight?”
It was as if he knew…
I felt my stomach turn, probably because deep down in my heart I already knew what his reaction was going to be. Reluctantly, I replied: “The baptism party just ended. Natalia is going to spend the night at her grandma’s with her cousins, so Carina and I are going to a baile in Indianapolis.”
By the amount of information I shared, almost as if I was trying to justify why I was going out, it became clear I felt guilt.
Cristiano remained silent for a few seconds, the silence indicative of his unhappiness with my plans. He confirmed this by responding, his voice void of any of the happiness and excitement it held earlier: “ I didn’t even know you liked that scene. Aren’t bailes full of booze and fights—and men.” He then paused, before adding, after I failed to respond, “I’ll be honest Cristina, I don’t like this one bit…”
I tried to take control of the conversation in a mature manner. I explained to him that for me, it wasn’t about any of that and that I just wanted to go to enjoy a night out with Carina. Cristiano, however, wasn’t buying it and the conversation quickly turned ugly.
He asked, as a follow-up: “Do you plan to dance with men?”
Not wanting to say the wrong thing, and sensing the tension, I left it up to him and replied, “I don’t know. Why? Am I not allowed to?”
He didn’t answer my question and instead replied cuttingly, “Ok, I see how it is. Well thanks for letting me know where we stand. And just remeber, two can play this game.”
I felt my face turn red. His tone was so condescending and his manner, controlling, I felt things I hadn’t felt in years: trapped, dirty and judged.
Although my mind said stop, don’t respond, let it be, my emotions and pride won and I replied, challenging him,
“Really? Cause I’m actually more confused now than before. So tell me Cristiano, where do we stand? So this is how this works? You tell me where I can and cannot go and if you don’t’ like it you threaten me?”
He too lost his cool and all but yelled, “I’m just asking you to show me the same resect I’m showing you. You know I’ve been staying in my office while I’m at my club, and all to avoid the party life because I’m trying not put myself in situations I will regret. But fine, if you get to go out and do what you want, than so do I.”
Immaturity got the best of me and instead of trying to defuse the situation, I fueled it by arguimg back, “So what now? Because I’m going out dancing with a friend, and I may or may not dance with someone, you’re now going to go fuck the first bitch who throws herself at you tonight?”
As soon as I said it, I regretted it. I all but accused him of cheating on me and we weren’t even official yet…
The line became so silent, I thought he hung up. The only indication that he was still on the line came when I heard a door open and someone state, “Cristiano there’s a woman asking for you at the bar. She said you two go way back.”
My heart dropped. Without having to say anything more, the universe made my point for me.
I could tell Cristiano realized the same. The irony of me having to hear that some woman was waiting for him at the bar, when he couldn’t even trust me to go dancing, was not lost on either of us. My suspicions became even greater when I heard the line mute.
I contemplated whether to just hang up, I was about to when he came back on the line and apologized about the interruption. Realizing I wasn’t entirely wrong, his tone softened and he replied, “Look, do what you want, but don’t play with me.”
I was done. Done. Done. Done. I wasn’t about to let him guilt trip me about going out to a dance, when he had some woman—and god only knows how many more—waiting for him at the bar. With this in mind, I cut him off and replied, “Look Cristiano, just because you can’t control yourself doesn’t’ mean I can’t. Now go take care of whatever that woman at the bar wants. I have to go ”
Before he could say another word, I hung up…
To be continued…
Preview of next diary:
My choice of outfit backfired, big time. After I had hung up on Cristiano, in an attempt to prove to myself I could get as many guys as he gets girls, I asked Carina to lend me her sexiest dress.
Well, I proved my point..
I had so many men asking me to dance, I was now so tired from all the dancing, all I wanted to do was sit and people watch. Realizing I needed a break from the crowded dance floor, I grabbed my purse and informed Carina I was going to step outside to get some fresh air.
As I made my way through the dance floor, to try to get to the bar, I felt taps on my shoulder. Every time I turned, there was someone asking me to dance. I began to realize that A) I was either that pretty or B) I looked that slutty.
I prayed it was A….