Rancheras

All night I have heard rancheras and my heart breaks. The music is coming from a house behind a house across the street from my home. It is someone’s birthday, quincenera or wedding. Then again, it might just be Saturday night. A man just yelled the traditional Mexican grito and it was impressive. I heard it coming a mile away, literally. It’s nostalgic for sure. The deep trombones, staggered and staccato jump into the air, exploding invisibly into the night. A man sings a song about I don’t know what but he is very happy and now everyone is singing loudly with him because they know the feeling and the words. They yell loud, confidently as if proving some great truth that everybody knows; each song a cultural anthem and far away, with my window open, I know everything I am imagining is true. The place smells of carne asada and tortillas. Little Mexican kids are running around all over the place, savoring playing in bunches, knowing that mom and dad aren’t watching right now because it’s Saturday night and nothing stops them from worrying about providing como un baile on someone’s rancho. Thirty years ago, I was that kid, watching from the beer gardens at the Merced Fairgrounds as my parents danced. Who I played with? I have no clue but I’m sure I had fun and got home later than I should have.  For a split second I find it odd that all of this is happening in Idaho and not California.  I imagine these people are the minority on their street just as I am on mine.  I wonder what their neighbors think.  Something has happened.  The music and the gritos have stopped.  Maybe neighbors complained.  Without the music, I cannot think of anything else to say.  All night I have heard rancheras and my heart breaks. Not because of the lyrics but because my wife and I are lonely in Idaho.  We know people but that does not equate to meaningful relationships.  The wife sleeps.  I am somewhat tempted to walk the ten minutes to this party to talk to a stranger I’ve known all my life because I know Spanish and am familiar with the struggle from watching my parents live it.  But I know I am not going anywhere.  The rancheras have begun again.  I will, like all the poor women in A House on Mango Street, watch and listen from the window, until the music stops again.

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