Thank/Fuck You Laredo: Part 1- What Are You Looking At?

I was asked, pestered, frequently reminded [insert word of choice here] by my husband to write for his section on rants on this website. He says that it would be a good release for me to put it all on paper. Therapeutic release I suppose. Either that or he can only take so much about the rising costs of weddings, the ridiculous nature of the new “photographers” of our time or how people exist in their own worlds while existing in an even bigger world.  All he says is “You need to write about it.”  So here I am writing about it. I have a long list of things that need to be turned into an article but I’ll make my debut with this article about Laredo.  The town I grew up in, and for the most part grew up hating and waiting for the days till I was able to leave for college.

I never wanted to leave my family, but I had to leave Laredo. I always say to my mother that if I could shrink them (my parents) into pocket-sized people and put them in my pocket, I would do just that.  She is sure to remind me every time that I never had to leave Laredo. I could have stayed with her and my dad and saved my money and lived with them. I fear that if I had grown up anywhere else, I may have done just that. Been a 20 something still living at home until I got married….weird.

Getting back to Laredo… So I grew up hating it, and I was never really sure why at the time. I think as an angsty teen I hated it because, “this place is boring and there is never anything to do!” When the sad reality is that NOW while living in San Antonio I do exactly the same thing here that I did then, there. There are so many things to do here and so many things happening all over the city, but I am deterred because it is on the “other side” of town. My mom would say, “So? You’re not going to walk there, right?”  She’s right; I wasn’t going to walk there but I did have to drive 15-20 miles there and then 15-20 miles back AND potentially not even enjoy myself. Whatever the case is, I am now content just sitting at home watching Netflix, crocheting, playing with the cat, or laying on the floor in my husband’s office talking about dumb shit while looking at Buzzfeed “articles”… which I could have probably done as a teen in Laredo (minus the husband).

I think what it was is, I always thought that it was behind its time. That Laredo’s mindset never grew with its physical growth. I think that always bothered me because even though I didn’t get out much, I had to interact with people all the time… at school, at work, at the store, at the ONE mall where the entire city congregated on a hot day (which was everyday). It’s like town-folk in a small city. And by town-folk I mean blink and you miss it kind of town like Orla, TX. Before I continue let me just say that this is not talking about ALL Laredoans, just the select top-notch asshole douche bags and slutty bitches…That’s right JD Delgado and Kelly Navarro, I am fucking talking about you, Kelly Kapowski Zach Morris wannabes never-were jerk wads. Well, and the people who are/were willfully ignorant and only cared about where their next leeching opportunity was going to come from. Long story short… small city with a mindset of an old ghost town.

So why was this a bad thing??? They don’t understand or appreciate different, and thus if you are different, not fully Hispanic, don’t like tejano or cola blanca buck hunting in the “rancho” and kicking back “across” at Canacas or Senor Frogs, then you’re pretty much a fucking weirdo. Well, I am half Hispanic and half Thai. Different.  More than half the people in Laredo probably don’t know what Thai is or where Thailand is. Most people there think my mom is from Taiwan even after I tell them she is Thai… from Thailand…NOT Taiwanese.  That isn’t the most obnoxious part really. I can deal with ignorance… I mean, I guess THAI-land and TAI-wan are both countries in the orient and start with the letter “t”.

What really chapped my ass about this whole conundrum though, was that I was different from the others, and they didn’t let me forget it. Now in my ripened 20s I embrace my differences, but as a kid I kind of just wanted to blend in. I couldn’t. Kids at school let me know that my mother was asian and that she HAD TO only eat rice and say the few select words and phrases like “ching ching chong chong” and “ting tang tong” and only ate with sticks. Or that my eyes were small even though I had big brown eyes and look a little more Hispanic than some of the other kids at school.  They ALWAYS looked at me. I mean I’m not attractive and I am certainly not beastly, just seriously average run of the mill slightly overweight female.  I began to think that maybe I was a little fucking paranoid and that I was just insecure and FELT that people were looking at me but really weren’t… I wasn’t. As it turned out they always looked at my sister and my mother and they looked at my father when with my mother, and then they looked at us when we were all together. The two places this always happened without fail was on the south side of Laredo where people call each other “buey” all the time, and say things like “no mames” for everything, fucking Narvaez Meat Market and Los Jacales. The second I was into either of those two places, I am noticed. I have no fucking clue what they see but they see something I don’t. They follow me with their eyes until I disappear out of the exit and just wait and sit in the car.

Why does any of this fucking matter? I don’t know. I can’t answer that, but in the recent years since marrying my husband and taking him to my home town, we get looked at. He’s handsome. He has these beautiful blue eyes, long batting eyelashes, and white white skin that smells like babies and sweet cream. I guess it’s hard to avoid looking at a person whose ethnicity is questionable with an attractive guy that can only be dreamed of. My dad recently told me that they look at me because they are curious and they don’t know what they are looking at  It’s not that hard to figure out when I am standing right next to both my parents, but whatever. Stupidity, ignorance, curiosity, or whatever the fuck it is. All I can say is GET WITH IT!

Getting things wrapped up with Part 1, if you’re still reading I promise this will all lead into the next parts. But how is this just a Laredo thing? Truth be told I don’t know if it is only a Laredo thing, but it is certainly something I have only experienced there. Well with the exception of road-tripping through predominantly white towns in west Texas. I have lived and visited several different cities in the United States, and even though I am a complete stranger to most of those places, those places always felt more like home or more welcoming than the place I grew up in. I can walk into places and not be looked at ’til I was so uncomfortable that I would wait in the car. I can walk into a restaurant holding my husband’s hand without being stared down for a few minutes before they got used to seeing me there.

Even though growing up with this was hard, and still when I visit there and get the looks it is still hard sometimes, it gave me something that I might not have ever gotten had this not been my experience. I am so incredibly…unnaturally close with my immediate family. We know the ins and outs of each other. My father knows me more than I know myself sometimes. My mother knows every single scar on my body, my sister knows what I am saying by the widening of my eyes when I see something. They know this because I stayed home. I never wanted to leave home because I didn’t want to have to go out there and get looked at and made fun of and teased. I stayed where it was safe.  I blanketed myself in the comforts of my family. I shared mostly everything with them and they became my friends…my only friends. They were my beacon of hope and my safe haven. I see my experience with being different as a blessing in disguise. I don’t think that I would have been as close with my family had I been accepted. I might have been one of those social-butterfly people. I might have developed the habit of saying “Ay, que cute!” Or worse, “ Nah dOOd! TCH AAAH!”

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