Last week’s love story was about romantic love. Today’s is about family. Pictured above: my wonderful Cuban grandparents.
I like telling stories, especially to my daughter. Even on my hardest days when nothing went right and I’m emotionally drained, when I see her walking over to me with a book and that bright look in her eyes, I can’t turn her away. I pull her up on my lap and I read her a story.
You see, stories are in my blood—her blood. Almost 60 years ago my grandmother penned a letter to my grandfather that resulted in them marrying. Just like that, with a few strokes of her pen, she wrote us all into existence. The older I become, the more I think of people as living, breathing stories. My grandparents, myself, my daughter, each one an obra. If you could string together the stories of our family, that’s our legacy. It’s always seemed to me that women in Latino families are the story keepers.
We are tasked with not forgetting, so that our children can also know.
Maybe this is why I’m moved to write after any major life event—I’m literally writing down our family history. When my father died, pages poured out of me. Que no se me olvide, que no se me olvide. You might forget what you did two days ago, but the memory in your bones is long. It reaches far back to where you come from, where struggles and dreams are mounted on one another like grains of sand in a heap.
We are the culmination of generation-after-generation of striving, seeking, not yielding. Latina mothers won’t forget and they won’t let you either. That perspective is immeasurably valuable. These stories empower one to say: I know who I am, even if you do not.
Baby me in a poofy dress; my parents in love.
Like many Americans, my own story is woven from the threads of two people who bravely left everything behind in search of a new land. My mother crossed a desert and my father crossed the ocean and happened to meet in a place called Los Ángeles. And their daughter was both sand and salt air. Some events, like this one, reverberate through the entire family line.
I’m dedicating this story to my daughter Julia because so many things had to go right for her to be born. The entire universe had to happen and our ancestors had to survive so that one day she could walk barefoot on the grass of our garden.
What I hope I’m able to convey, is that she is her own story, but she’s also the story of everyone who came before her—a group Spanish voyagers, an Indian merchant, a landless Frenchman seeking the New World, a Maya man tracing the stars, my great grandmother planting cocoa trees in Guatemala, my other great grandmother being courted under palm trees in Cuba, and more.
All that striving—tanta vida—is fueled by one thing: Hope. It’s what propelled my mother through the desert and what helped my father endure the sea. It’s what drives my husband and me when we get up every morning. It’s about creating something for yourself and your children. That’s legacy in action. That’s love.
Turns out we both love pandas.
I can only wonder what stories Julia will tell her own child someday and if she’s still be holding onto that time-worn thread of historias passed down from mother to daughter. I hope.
For my birthday this year, my husband surprised me with a weekend trip to Palm Springs, Calif. We stayed at Korakia Pensione, the most low-key-luxurious place I know. John knows me well, because I love the desert and prefer my getaways relaxed and romantic.
Talk about feeling transported. I felt like I was in a different world, even though we were just a short walk to the downtown scene. It’s what I imagine Morocco might feel like, down to the afternoon mint tea served with orange slices and pine nuts.
Dress: All Saints (long ago), Jacket: ASOS, Bag: Mercado Global, Scarf: Ella Moss
This is probably my favorite thing I wore in Palm Springs, because it’s perfect for the weather (low 80s this time of year) and just felt right for the setting. I think airy cotton and a jean jacket are essentials for any southwestern adventure. I’m wearing a white bathing suit underneath.
It’s inspiring to be in a place with so much natural beauty. Evenings are especially gorgeous in Palm Springs, as the sun sets behind the San Jacinto Mountains. We swam under the stars in one of the heated pools. Afterward, we warmed up by the fire and sipped a glass of wine—is this real life? I’ll never forget this perfect night.
While chatting with my husband about the passage of time (since it was my birthday) we started taking about what different places mean to you over the course of your life. We’ve been to Palm Springs before, but this is the first time we’ve visited since we became parents and life subsequently became MUCH busier—we therefore relaxed that much more. I think traveling is replenishing and helps nourish the spirit.
Travel Tips for Palm Springs:
- If you’re ever in town, I recommend Matchbox Pizza for good eats and tasty cocktails. I also love Cheeky’s for brunch.
- When we’re traveling, we like stop at a grocery store to pick up a few essentials (wine, cheese, snacks, etc.) We loved Jensen’s Foods, which was about a 5-minute drive from downtown.
- Other things that make this place worth visiting: museums, quirky shops, trails and hiking.
- Check the weather forecast and pack layers. For nights out, I brought a light jacket and I’m glad I did. I’ve also been to Palm Springs in summer and it’s hot all day and night. I love it though!
- While there are plenty of places for lowkey hanging out, there’s also chic lounges and fine dining restaurants if you’re in the mood for that.
- There’s an aerial tram that goes up the mountain–especially gorgeous at sunset.
Palm Springs, you’re beautiful!
p.s. As much as I love a getaway with my husband, I’m excited to plan a family road trip that is parent and toddler friendly. If such a place exists, I will find it! Have a suggestion? Tell me in the comments.