Getting drunk and crying isn’t exactly something confined to a single culture. A quick ride on the Red Line during any Chicago holiday, or a late night out in Wrigleyville pretty much drives that one home as a experience that isn’t bound by any demographic. I’m not a drunk crier, I’m a pretty happy drunk most of the time, the other times I’m slutty. But I digress…
Today I was at a house party, and like any respectable gay man who is single and well into his 30s, put away half a case of hard cider by myself. Yes ladies and gents, I go hard. Anyway, I dragged myself home just after the heat of the day had passed, walked my dog and settled in for a night of tv and pizza. To keep myself entertained while I added extra pepperoni and cheese to topping poor pizza, I put on some music. Como la Flor by Selena came on, and before I knew it, I was sprinkling extra cheddar, singing along, and tears were streaming down my face.
I’m not sure if it’s been the past few week’s work load, the excessive amount of cider sugar making its way out of my body or the fact that this summer has been hot, humid, and it’s driving everyone crazy, but there I was. Standing in the middle of my kitchen, drunk, singing, and crying. In that moment, I was a Mexican stereotype.
I don’t even know if that is a stereotype actually. If I asked my non-latino friends if they’d ever heard that when latino men (particularly those of Mexican heritage, since that’s what I’ve got the most experience with, you know, family and all) get drunk, they sing and cry, if they’d be able to say yes, they recognized that stereotype. They alos get a little handsy with each other, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog and possibly a PhD thesis or reality tv show. But I digress, yet again…
In my moment of raw emotion, when Selena was singing about how much she hurt, and about lost love, I had a moment of clarity. The men who I’d grown up around, who would get drunk on a driveway or around a fire pit in the yard, who would sing and yell and curse and cry, were putting it all out there and bearing their souls. My tios, my dad’s compadres, left behind their families, their homeland, their language, and now live in a place where they don’t fit in, not exactly anyway. Huddled around those burning embers, music and songs from their past would come on, and they would sing, and cry, and remember what they left behind. What they sacrificed to have a better life, and the people they may never see again.
That’s what I had. Those are the feelings that came flooding over me as the heat from the oven rushed over my face. I thought about my friends, my family, and couldn’t remember when the last time was that I didn’t feel totally disconnected from where I came from. In that moment I realized what the men who got drunk, and sang and cried were feeling, because I didn’t know before. I didn’t know why they cried. I didn’t know why Vicente Fernandez would trigger arms over each other’s shoulders, swaying and shouting. They too, were disconnected, but in those moments, the connection and memories would come back like a shot (after many shots), and they mourned the warmth from the memories as it slowly faded away verse by verse.
I texted Carmen after I had dried my eyes, I knew she’d understand and think it was funny, and I needed a laugh. It’s nice to know my culture is still in here somewhere. I may be living a life with no current purpose, and the only direction it is has is towards another nap, but some of my memories have a different angle to them now. It’s been a while since I stood around drinking with my family and friends and bared my soul. I should probably do that on a more regular basis, once i’m somewhere with a driveway.