It’s the third Friday of Lent today and while I was sitting at my desk finishing up the week’s emails, the sun moved lower into my living room window and filled the living room with its late winter light. Yesterday, it snowed and today I didn’t even need a jacket when I went out for my afternoon walk. In meetings this morning everyone brought up the wind. That is the story of spring and it is the story of cuaresma. It always has been.
I was still sitting at my kitchen table a.k.a. my desk when all of a sudden I wanted arroz con leche. All of this talk of primavera today had been sitting in my unconscious until it came out in a burst of tastes and smells.
One of the gifts of working on the Manito Community Memory Project has been telling stories and getting to know all of the community archivists. In the short five weeks I have been here, I have heard the collective memories of some of the plebe del Embudo Valley, Hernández, Cuba, El Cerrito, Costilla, Questa, Taos and Abiquiú. It has been a blessing and it has inspired me to continue to listen to the stories of my own family and most importantly for me to heal from the trauma of my fractured family. So on that note, I made a quick trip to the grocery store and as I sit here typing out this post, rice is cooking on the stove. Food is funny that way, just the smell of the rice even before I add the milk or the cinnamon takes me back to Friona and to Lent in the llano estacado — the dust, and the last bitter cold snaps before tornado season. It takes me to the smell of Jergen’s lotion which my grandmother kept by the kitchen sink so that her hands never got too dry. My Uncle Tony and I have been talking about her a lot — the depression and anxiety she sometimes suffered from, the cancer that took her from us in the end and we’re also putting together our separate memories of her; piecing back together our lives through her; taking comfort in our ability to witness one another. Yes. You were there. I was there. We remember.
This is the beauty of our project. We were there. We are here. We remember.