A couple weeks ago, a few members of my family decided to do the unthinkable—spend a week together in New York City.
My family is absolutely lovely and always there for each other blah blah blah. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this band of weirdoes, crazies and high-maintenance divas. That being said, we don’t spend a ton of time together. We are also a ruthlessly honest, shit-talking bunch. Nothing gets past anyone, and the take down will often feel like the roasting of your life.
For example, when my eldest nephew was a small child, he responded to my excited greeting with “you have acne.” During my savage middle sister’s baby shower at the Old Spaghetti Factory (classy), she punched me in the stomach in front of everyone. No one was surprised because that’s very her, even if she was pregnant. However, her punch hit some weird inner body button that immediately gave me diarrhea. I had to run to the Old Spaghetti toilet.
We all give it and take it. If you get your feelings hurt, you’re usually blamed because, you know, that’s how it is with us so quit acting like a little bitch.
So when my mom decided that she wanted her Christmas gift to be a family trip to the Big Apple, I was a bit anxious. The thought of seven days in New York with my family got me hunting for the Klonopin my mom gave me a while back. Oh yeah, we also trade prescription medication. It’s chill.
At the airport, our flight was delayed a couple of hours. My mom was getting restless and when I stood up to grab something for her, my period sludged out of me like lava and stained my travel pants. Off I went to scrub them in the airport bathroom. This felt like a bad omen.
I had the window seat but my mom looked at me in a way that clearly said “uhh I birthed you so no.” I took her middle seat. We quietly chatted in Spanish on the plane when my mom stopped and said the woman in front of her was throwing dirty looks her way.
Now, I am firmly against denying anyone’s claims when they feel threatened, ill or scared. As a woman, I have had way too many people (*cough*men*cough*) downplay what I’m feeling or experiencing. But this is my mom—a woman who could take the gold in Olympic exaggeration and insist it’s platinum that cost her $30,000. So I insisted she was probably imagining something that isn’t there.
And then I looked, and indeed a middle-aged bottle blonde with a thick, striped scarf wrapped around her head was peeking through the space between the seats and death staring my mom. Oh. Hell. No.
“Can I help you with something?” I said with a dose of attitude. The women had a sort of sleepy, pilled-up look to her. “It’s a little loud,” she said in a drowsy, bitchy tone. We were far from loud. This woman was just hating for some inexplicable reason (*cough*racist*cough).
“Then you should put on your headphones,” I responded. She shot me a dirty look and turned back around. Then continued to peek through the seat space to give us dirty looks, and each time she did I peeked right back and had some words for her.
When it was clear that we would be doing that the whole flight, I spoke to a flight attendant, who then offered the lady headphones in a polite shut-down. No one fucks with my family. We fuck with each other, but no one is going to come at my mom while I’m around. She can surely handle herself, but I wasn’t trying to go to airport jail either.
That would not turn out to be our only run-in with people on the trip. A tour operator was telling her co-worker about how her poor, innocent son somehow ended up in a meth den in Tijuana by, naturally, no fault of his own. According to this genius, “Tijuana is where they dump all the criminals and bad people.” Because there are absolutely no drug dealers in New York, as we all know.
Just as no one fucks with my family, no one fucks with my city. I had to chime in and let her know that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I told her I’m from Tijuana, what she is saying in incorrect and if her son ended up in a meth den on Avenida Revolución, he was probably looking for it. My mom, unable to say anything because of language barriers, assisted by staring down the operator. Bye bitch.
Apparently my sister and her girls, three of the biggest can’t-be-fucked-with women I know, had their own run-ins as well. It’s just not in our DNA to sit idle when someone is rude to us.
But not once did any of us turn on each other. I mean, we’re still Mexican so we shit-talked behind each other’s backs and threw some eye rolls when one of us was being annoying, but that’s normal! Perhaps we’re getting wiser, more mature. Or perhaps we’ve come to learn over the years, after deaths, fights, feelings and a world that feels like its crumbling, that we’re stronger together. If anything, getting to this point has made the diarrhea-inducing punches worth it. I’ll take a week with these bitches any day.