As children, Selene and I shared everything: a playpen at the back of Mamá Luz’s panadería, our bath water until we could no longer fit in the tub together, and even our mother’s wedding ring. Besides the ring, we also split a wardrobe, expensive make-up we both craved. We would take turns wearing the ring every month and when it was my turn Selene would remove the ring from her finger and then carefully place it on mine.
I don’t think Mamá Luz kept her panadería shut for long after our parents died. That’s why I know she is a woman of earth-shattering strength, rising at five in the morning and barely in bed by one. From sorting through blossoms for agua de Jamaica to counting shipments of piloncillo in the pantry, her hands are never still.
Selene’s hands were never still, either, especially when she danced. Imagine a cross between a flamenco dancer and Beyoncé. She had this move I called her hip-hop Egyptian jig, in which she held her hands in the air, then switched her head from side to side, keeping her torso perfectly isolated, and then she deconstructed the move in little vaudevillean twitches.
Selene commanded a room, whether at a family barbecue or a house party. I guess I came more from the school of take up as little space as you need. Hold your sway. Keep the beat just so with slow movements to show you’re not gonna lose it like your loca sister. She said she felt like soaring when she danced, and she’d dig at me, “Why you gotta be so serious?”
And then she’d spin and spin, with her arms spread out and her multiple ghetto-indígena trenzitas floating out like feather darts. I can still hear her preach at me as she whirled.
“You are daughter of Xochiquetzal and treasure of Tonantzin. Feel your blood, little sista!”
Related: More ‘Viva Macondo’ entries