It’s me, Augustina. I don’t know if you remember me, but I did not forget you, Katrina, and Edgar. I was on my way to the Philippines. Nobody knew it, but I was pregnant and my parents were bringing me “home,” but first we stopped and visited you and your family in Kalihi. Remember? I was moody and I hated my parents and so maybe you don’t. Or maybe you do—I had Farah Fawcett hair and you couldn’t stop running your fingers through it, remember now? We stayed with you for a week and I hung out with your sister, Jing. One night, we babysat you over at your friend, Katrina-trina’s house. You did that disco show. Oh God. That was hilarious. I was never into Donna Summer or KC and the Sunshine band. Not like you crazy little fools. You made me laugh the way you took the stage like that (love to love you baby) and lip-synced before lip-syncing was in. The way you didn’t give a shit and did whatever you kids wanted to do. God you kids were loud. I wanted to hate you, but all I could do was smile. You made me scared. What if my kid turned out like you guys? And then I thought about it.
Back in Chicago, Filipinos were so scared we’d turn out wild and white and American, they were too strict. The community tsismised like crazy and so, nobody was allowed to date. Nobody talked about sex. Nobody had boyfriends. I never had a circle of crazies like you and Edgar, and Katrina-trina. We were all too cool for that shit anyway. All I had was Gabriel, my cousin, and that’s because we were related. Otherwise, forget it. I was not allowed to do shit. There on Kalihi, you guys ran around like you owned the town, danced your hearts out, boogied, talked about sex. Did it. You were free.
Then I thought. There you have it. They are free. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if my kid turned out like you. I was going to be a different kind of mom to her. Except my parents took over. I had her and brought her back and well. You know how that goes. She thinks I’m her sister. Now she’s a nurse in a suburb in Chicago— Oak Park. Me? I shoot weddings and baptisms. Not exactly art, but it pays the bills. I’m thinking about telling her the truth, by the way. I’m thinking about it because I saw you on Facebook and I got to thinking about you. I liked your profile picture. You look good, Vicente—your hair slicked back so old school with pomade and your look all serious but inviting. Gwapo parin. What do you do, now? You in Hawaii? Married? Wasn’t that great when they passed the Hawaiian Marriage Equality Act? Did you have anything to do with that? I feel like you might have. You’ve always been influential.
I wonder how you all turned out. I know, Edgar Ramirez is a faggot. You know you can’t say that anymore, right? Not PC. I was telling my kids Crissie, Jackson, and Santi about all of you and when I got to Edgar, they were like Mami, you can’t say that! Okay, okay, Edgar was gay. And Katrina-trina, does she have kids now? And you, whatever happened to you? You were the deep one.
I watched you all week long and I could see that you were going to grow up and be the man you wanted to be—no matter what your dad said. I admired you. I wanted your fire. If only I did what I wanted to do. Gabriel was my only friend. And he and I got weirdly close. And well, you know. I wish I’d have been more like you.
That’s all. Anyway, I’m friending you on Facebook. I just want to say thanks for that week in Kalihi. You guys changed my life. Or at least the way I thought about my life. You might not have not ever listened to the Beatles’ White Album and loved it for all your “toot-toot-hey-beep-beep.” But I just want you to know that I thought you were all cool. And I hope you friend me back. What’s it been, twenty years?
Oh—and here are some photos I took from that week—you and your fake mic, Edgar and his smooth moves. Who’s that on the roller skates? I’m posting them. I hope you don’t mind.
(aka Her Wild American Self)