“We danced until we were exhausted, until the songs we'd paid for ran out and the mariachis turned around and walked away. But then I shouted and begged them to come back and play two more, and they did!”
December 21, 2014
The Icing on the Que-Que
Yesterday I celebrated my 60th birthday — and also the completion of my new book, A House of My Own, a collection of personal stories. And what a wonderful birthday it was! The best ever! I hope I feel that way about every birthday from now on. I know I aimed to please myself this time around, and that made for a joyous celebration. The theme for my birthday was pastry. Guests were instructed to come in costume or Don't bother coming at all! I did this because I wanted my guests to be allowed to play, and costumes help people remember their inner kid. As for the pastry theme, that was because I wanted to jump out of a cake! I wore a piñata cake skirt (fashioned by Eva and Jorge Rios) so I could jump out of a cake any time I wanted. Long ago when I was a kid, my cousin Licha got a doll cake for her birthday — those ingenious confections where a doll’s skirt is the birthday cake. I was dying from envy, but my mother (unlike my Aunt Margaret) was oblivious to my secret desire. I didn’t know back then to make my needs known by speaking up. At sixty I now know to say what I want, or better yet, buy what I want myself. And this is how my pastry-themed costume party came about.It was held here in Mexico, at a mezcaleria that serves wonderful food. What a fabulous sight it was to watch guests arrive dressed as coconut cake, Pan Bimbo, cupcakes, pan dulce, chocolate cherry cake, and other chuchulucos!
My hairdresser Ben Huerta came wearing a banana split as a codpiece. (Not exactly pastry, but it was chistoso!)
My assistant Ernesto Espinoza and his wife Eunice Chavez were charming as a baker and his chocolate chip cookie. We sang along to a musician who belted out rancheras as well as boleros. When the mezcaleria closed, folks thought the night had ended. But the day-old bread witnessed the icing on the cake! We marched down the street like a parade to the jardin, the town center. A row of brilliant mariachis dressed all in white and gold serenaded me on my arrival with "Las Mañanitas," the traditional birthday song. Then the magic! Everybody danced and it was like a scene from a musical.
What began as a few friends ended up with strangers as well as invited guests tirando chancla, until in the end we took over the bandstand kiosk from a group of sleepy teenagers, who I warned would have to join us or get out. They did join us for a little, but were so shy and conservative, they fled after a few timid steps. La familia Tapia from Sonora was the most enthusiastic, with aunts, uncles, children, cousins cakewalking in a counterclockwise cumbia with us in the jardin bandstand. Well, who could ask for anything more! We danced till we were exhausted, until the songs we’d paid for ran out, and the mariachis turned around and walked away. But then I shouted and begged them to come back and play two more, and they did! Well! Do I have to tell you I had a good time? See the photos to confirm what I’m telling you is the truth. I’m still in my pajamas as I write this. I'm already planning the theme for my next birthday.
Writer Richard Vargas sent me a letter with thoughts on turning 60. Since I am sixty-and-one-day today, I thought I too would write a list of what I know from estas alturas. But when I compiled the following list, someone who doesn't know me very well said it made her squirm. "It's corny and woo-woo," she told me. I told her, "But I am corny and woo-woo!"
Today at 60-and-one-day, this is what I know:
1. Fear, anger, resentment, shame, and ego block me from receiving guidance daily from my highest self. I am a channel for light. (By "light" I simply mean “love,” for lack of a better word.) When I let go of these distractions, then I write and live from a place of forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and humility.
2. The work I do on behalf of others with no personal agenda always rewards me in ways better than money or fame.
3. When in doubt, sleep on it. Ask and you'll get an answer.
4. Divina Providencia always takes me to a better destination than I planned. I just need to remember to get out of my own way.
5. Err on the side of generosity.
6. Animals and trees are the wisest gurus I know.
7. Trust what comes from intuition; doubt what comes from my brain.
8. Love does not die.
9. Cultures that are spiritually advanced, like India and Mexico, know that the border between the living and the dead is porous. The United States is still a spiritually innocent country, wary of border-crossers.
10. Beauty is a curse. Youth is a liability.
11. Or to simplify it: "Animo, valor, y nunca miedo." (Encouragement, courage, and fearlessness.) Something I overheard two construction workers say on Calle Santo Domingo today.
I wish you a corny, woo-woo-ish holiday season.