We’re Just Visiting

We had an old blue and green flowered bedspread layed out and open under the shade of a grassy knoll just above the sandy beach area of the lake we would drive to every Sunday in the summer. My Spanish grandmother had our red plaid thermos and our silver bullet-looking thermos propped up against the thick bark of the tree behind us. It was 11:00 in the morning and it was time for “elevenses,” what we called “onces,” and she was calling us in from the water.

At 11:00 every morning, my abuela would prepare something for the 11 o’clocks; the time of the day where we would stop and have some light tea, or coffee with cream, and a small sweet. Today we were at the beach, Freiss Lake in Southeastern Wisconsin. We were a caramel skin-colored people, each with a headful of curly hair. Our sandwiches were meatless and wrapped in wax paper — not modern baggies like the American families around us — and everyone on our blanket was drinking coffee, even the 3- and 4-year-olds.

I cannot even imagine the sight we were to those around us.  A family of nine, eating guava jelly slabs stuffed into white hard rolls, chased down with thermoses of coffee on a hot summer’s day at the beach. Brown-skinned people stretched across an obvious quilt-off-of-a-bed rather than the blue and green or black and red plaid blankets that were made for picnics and dotted the beach around us.

I was only 5-years-old at the time, but I remember knowing how different we were — and I thought, we’re only visiting.

We’re only visiting this country. That had to be the answer because we were so very unlike all that I saw around me when we would drive to Freiss Lake, a very German-named lake near Milwaukee. I didn’t feel ashamed, I merely connected the dots in my mind to explain the amplification in our appearance when compared to other families: surely we must just be visiting. What other reason could there be for how we did everything the exact opposite way that they did it?

I’d watch my abuela take her white-handled paring knife and neatly slice the red mango she had packed, handing each of the six of us that were eagerly awaiting a sliver of the buttery succulent fruit. We’d clean off its peel by scraping the skin against our top and bottom teeth. Cold, pulpy, ripe with juice; it perfectly quenched our thirst.

I’d see the children on the blue and green plaid picnic blanket 10 feet away from me watching, frozen in the midst of licking their root beer popsicles, unable to continue eating their summer treat, their curiosity about what I was eating stopping them from doing anything else.

I always felt exotic and mysterious when I’d see them stare at me.

After all, I knew what they were eating.

But as for me, and what I imagined these other children were thinking about what they saw before them, I knew it was this: That I must be a princess from another country, and I was only visiting.

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By Alexandra on July 30, 2012 · Posted in the habla habla

6 Comments | Post Comment

brian miller says:

hey exotic and mysterious is a great way to feel…love the outlook…and being a princess too….funny i wrote something i will post about vacation at some point…the guy essentially told me a place to visit, said there were lots of weird people there…and i would fit right in…yep…and then he realized what he said….
brian miller´s last [fabulousness] ..MagpieTales: Black Dog

Posted on July 30th, 2012

K A B L O O E Y says:

Buttery to describe ripe mango flesh… beautiful. Thanks for that tiny perfect moment from the princess who became the empress.
K A B L O O E Y´s last [fabulousness] ..Random Thoughts Pentathlon

Posted on July 30th, 2012

Wombat Central says:

Life in your side of the blanket sounds divine. Sweets at 11:00 are something I’m always up for! And fresh mango? Mmmmmm.

My mom was a waxed paper sandwich gal, too. I can still remember what my lunches smelled like as a kid as I opened those neatly folded and wrapped PB&Js.
Wombat Central´s last [fabulousness] ..Movie Monday – Kiddie Movie Gone Awry

Posted on July 31st, 2012

Alexandra says:

oh my gosh when people put their foot in their mouth.

Yeah, I’m no stranger to being on the receiving end of that stuff.

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer, B.

Thank you so much for everything. Your kindness, your support, your time.
Alexandra´s last [fabulousness] ..We’re Just Visiting

Posted on July 31st, 2012

Alexandra says:

They’re called elevensies and imagine my surprise when I found out the Latin quarter doesn’t have a sole market on this. Britian does it, too. Elevensies.

How are you??
Alexandra´s last [fabulousness] ..We’re Just Visiting

Posted on July 31st, 2012

Alexandra says:

You are so very great. Thank you, C. And I’ll see you tomorrow!!!
Alexandra´s last [fabulousness] ..We’re Just Visiting

Posted on July 31st, 2012