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A True Story: Two sad girls getting drunk in the afternoon

Last week after lunch, I went outside to throw the trash and there they were. Two muchachas from nearby Jefferson High school, making a picnic with a bottle of wine and some bottles of beer, besides my trash can in the alley.

I live two doors from the high school, so the students are always trampling through my backyard, scaring the cats, searching for dope from my next-door neighbor, but I had never seen this.

The two girls, dressed in their regulation khaki and white, immediately stuffed their liquor in their brown bags and stood up, embarrassed that I saw them, expecting a reganada.

I wanted to preach to them, but looking at their pretty faces, a morena with ribbons in her hair, and the noodle-slim guerita with giant hoops, I wanted to reach through the years dividing us. How many years has it been since I was their age, thirty, thirty-five, and how could I possibly tell them all I've seen, the broken hearts that women have suffered, how could I tell them the drinking won't, can't, paste the eggshell back together of their corazones.

"The boys will take advantage of you," I said, "so don't do this." How could they know what I saw in college, the hurting that men lavish on women who want to be loved, the secrets women hide deep inside, a fine tequila they fear to taste.

"Life is hard, and the drinking won't heal your pain." I thought about my sister, Leticia, my own mother's death from alcoholism, and the betrayals, tragedies, and most of all, the loneliness that we women don't talk about, until it's too late.

But the girls didn't want a speech, and I just tried to talk softly, hoping they would hear in my words how I've seen what it is to be alone in the world, that I know about dreams, and I believe in the most impossible ones.


Trevino said…
barbara, i know the students you are talking about! they're always leaving campus and they come right back... plus, i believe there's only ONE noodle thin guerita at jefferson (amidst all the gorditas) and girl it's not me....

i'll keep my eye out for her next year... if it's the same one i'm thinking... this might need a more aggressive intervention... it truly takes a village, girl...

mad love ~

LarissaM-L said…
I, too, live on that next block over next to Jefferson (on Donaldson). I am saddened by what I see and hear during the school year. One day I was coming back from my run when I came across a discarded essay, soiled black from dusty boots that may have trodded over it in a huff (!). I picked it up and read a very moving, multi-genre, proto-feminist essay that some young girl wrote about love. I was disappointed that her teacher was more concerned with commas and footnotes than substance, and it made me realize that, more than likely, there is more than one girl at Jefferson that is hungry to write and to discover poetry and literature that speaks to her... she longs for something to fill her mouth other than what she has found in the botella.

For a class project (I'm an Eng. grad student) I wanted to have a poetry workshop with young girls from Jefferson but the English teacher I was in contact with was terrible at returning my messages... she ended up waiting until the last few weeks of the semester to get back with me and said it would not be possible because of the standardized tests they were administering. I still want to follow up on my plan, however. I am sad for these girls... filling up their time by emptying their bottles... waiting for the right poem to come along...

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