Author's Bio. Skipping from one passion to another has been a self-induced habit I have created throughout my whole life. Each craft I've laid my hands on has taken a piece of my heart as the years go by, while I look back to them with the wistful reminiscence of a long-lost lover. And yet, nothing ever nurtured me more than the mere action of putting words on a paper. Because I write for the sake of healing, it becomes the utmost expression of who I am; my thoughts and my emotions. My name is Elena, and nothing makes me happier than to reach out to another being through writing when speaking has failed me.
Elena was born under the green, white and red of a country that perishes and perseveres, and was the only child to an Engineer of a mother whose husband walked away to tend to another family while she was still in her womb. They were like the Three Musketeers, only, the third one didn’t exist, and the first two managed quite well without him. She was raised by a single mom with the inherent norms that every person born on Mexican soil holds dear to their heart; that you must show the deepest of respect to your grandparents, the dead, and handmade tortillas. Enfolded in love by a small family compared to the standards of most Hispanic traditions, she grew up secured by three pillars. Her grandmother was one out of two women in her generation to become a doctor. A now fragile, old lady who twice held her head high against cancer and who, with or without Parkinson’s, is the person to travel the most in the family. Her grandpa, the type of man who dismantles an object only to try to figure out how to put it back together, with an insatiable curiosity and a rough-edged temper that smoothes at the touch of those he loves. And her mother, a civil Engineer with a passion for concrete and building that she did not get anywhere but from within herself, and a compassion for animals that moves mountains. But while Elena was part of the lucky ones living in a country where poverty and corruption taints even the most colorful of festivities, she was not born as part of the lucky ones living in a world where she could be considered normal. Throughout the first twelve years of her life, she was a child of the streets. Back when it was safe to play soccer in the middle of the street and goals were made out of a pair of rocks—which led to a highly unethical series of incidents where nobody really knew if that rock had been there since the beginning or had been purposely nudged closer to the other, or, even worse, stealing the other team’s rock and running away so that her teammate could score a goal regardless of where he kicked the ball—. Back when they thought they could go to jail if the police caught them playing their knock-and-run all over the neighborhood, and all of her mother’s friends were considered her aunts. Her childhood was nothing but a series of adventures that constantly left her breathless from either laughing or running. For Elena, there were no worries in her mind and no sorrows in her heart. She was never an outstanding student either, but she managed quite well throughout her educational years. Though, it might have had something to do with the fact that there were no boys to distract her. She was too busy competing with them over who was faster. It was when she was fourteen years old that puberty kicked in and she learned the definition of awkward without knowing the word. She had outgrown—mostly—her habit of running around the entire school yard and had settled to the fact that now most of her friends were, well… girls. Because no matter how much her boys would remain her friends, the distinct separation between sexes that was proper of adolescence had finally drawn the line. Girls were no longer encouraged to be active or sporty, and during recess they would gang together to discuss matters of utter gossip. Sleepovers were almost mandatory and if there wasn’t at least one boy-crush discussed daily then it wasn’t a productive day at all. But Elena found herself alien to this. Her legs craved to be used tirelessly again and almost every boy in class had come to be the closest thing to a brother she had. Yet, there was one girl in particular who disarranged too early for her what was to become of who she is now. She was a precocious girl. She knew about things Elena had not yet grasped the meaning of, let alone the experience. But it was this precociousness that allured her to be her friend in the first place. Initially, nothing changed. She was the same Elena who attended school and then went home to change for her two-hour training at the Olympic swimming pool; the same disciplined girl who attended piano lessons every Saturday and learned the Moonlight Sonata in two months. And yet, something within her started to shift. With every moment she spent next to this girl her heart felt an unfamiliar tug, a stirring of emotions that left her lightheaded and questioning everything she had learned about the definition of normal. She felt blindsided, but at the same time with the breathlessness of getting in touch with a part of herself she had never known before. Then the night came when her mom sat down with her and asked her if she would like to go to Canada and spend the last semester of middle school as an exchange student. She said yes immediately. She knew she would miss out on being with her friends one last time, even perhaps the chance she had of experiencing something new. But she was ready to get out there, to be in a place she had never been and to be with people she had never met. To see snow. It was exhilarating and terrifying just thinking about it, knowing that she would be by herself with the protection of her mother so many miles away. That she would have to buy her own uniform and wake her own self up every morning to go to school, and most likely make her own breakfast and learn how to ask for things without being afraid. She was unequivocally ready, at fourteen, to step foot on the threshold of a brand new life. But then she kissed her. She kissed Elena at her last slumber party before departing, and for a few fleeting seconds she lost any recollection of where she was. When they backed away she hugged her with all she had, partly because she cared for her, but mostly because her heart was thumping mightily against her chest and she was utterly terrified. She had no idea of what had just happened, or why, or how. She was so scared of herself and of what she had just done that she could not look her friend in the eye for the rest of the night. With morning came the erasure of their kiss, and they never spoke of it again. A week later she flew to Canada but her resolution of building a new life had slightly crumbled. Her first kiss was engraved in her mind and there was a catastrophic turmoil going on in her heart. Somehow, she had also set herself into thinking that what had happened between them had awoken inside of her the same feelings of self-proclaimed love. She sent her email after email declaring her newfound affection, each one of them with a hint of the fear she had of anyone finding out but still with a love fool’s audacity of not really caring. Little did she know that the person she feared the most from knowing got to read every single word. When her mom found these emails Elena was confronted with a new side of her she had never had to witness before. Even with three thousand kilometers separating them, she felt every word her mom screamed at her like a dagger piercing through her heart. There she was, with her host family’s home phone clutched between two hands, faced for the first time with the realization that she might lose the person she loves most because of a single action. It was then, drowning in panic, that she told her first big lie. She denied the whole thing. Every single email, every confession, she made it seem as if it had been the girl who had maliciously crafted the entire thing. Her mother believed it. After days of feeling like a ticking bomb of despair and trying to convince her that she was telling the truth, that she wasn’t like that, she believed her. Perhaps more for her own sake than anything else, but none of that mattered except for the fact that she got to go on another day breathing a little bit easier. When she came back just in time for graduation, Elena blatantly ignored her ex-friend with a hand clutching at her heart. Summer came and went, and everything was over before it even started. At fifteen, high school did it for her, in the sense that she forgot everything, including her eating habits and the afternoon TV schedule. She was so busy with homework and projects that her campus became her home for the next three years, and her home a hotel room in which she crashed for the night. At one point her mom started lending her the car because she had to go back there all the time. But despite the pressure and uncomfortable naps inside a library cubicle, high school offered her some of the best years of her life. It allowed her to travel and spend a full semester in England, where she got to make some of the most fabulous friends, but also a mental getaway from every haunting thought she had of the truth swimming just beneath the surface of her heart. That is, until she had to take that god-awful chemistry class. Now, that chemistry class did not break her heart, (though it most certainly could have because she almost failed it), but in daily attendance was the girl who did it. They became best friends, fast and easy. Elena took it in it with the platonic sense that everything was fine and dandy, until the one moment where she consciously realized that this girl’s smile made her insides flutter. It happened between the moments they spent lying under their tree discussing their dreams, and all the times she made her laugh, those splitting seconds of lingering stares and innocent touching of hands; she became tragically hers. She kept trying to suppress her thoughts, but her heart had no deal with her wanting to manipulate it. In her best friend’s obliviousness she found the sad conformity that their friendship was more than enough, and so she lived almost a full year watching her fall in love with a boy. But, you see, there comes a point in which the heart can’t go another day without pouring out its contents. It bangs at your ribcage and demands to be let out. And she just couldn’t take it. Her green eyes had started to become unbearable to look at. And so once again, with the inevitable bravery of a fool, Elena waited one afternoon after school to stand before her and look into the eyes she had come to love. She asked her to please not be mad at her for what she was about to tell her, and know that she accepted everything as it was, because nothing was more important to her than their friendship. She needed her to understand that she had no other option than to let this out and to be honest, for the first time, with herself and with somebody who would listen. So she took a deep breath and said, “I’m in love with you.” Her best friend’s acceptance and the love that came with it were enough for Elena to pat her little heart and tell her, ‘Hey, it’s over, buddy. Let’s move on.’ During her flight to England, on her Fall semester before graduation, she wrote to her one last letter. She poured her feelings and allowed herself to write on paper what she was too scared to say out loud. Europe was the mistress that helped her find the closure she needed, though without knowing, she was also the last gleam of pure happiness Elena would have for a very long time. By the time she embarked on the last few months of high school, she knew it was in her destiny to move to New York City as soon as it was all over. Her heart and mind were already halfway there and the exhilaration of living in the city of dreams was already beginning to seep through her pores. But on the night before her math final, she woke up to the towering presence of her mother sitting on the bed. Her mother had read the words that weren’t meant for her to read, and this time, everything came crashing down on her faster and harder than last. Because despite the fact that her cowering turned her into a real liar, and her mother’s denial served her to convince her that she had misinterpreted everything, Elena felt in herself, in them, the swelling of a distance that would take years to bridge. It was the promise that, if the day came where she found out this was a lie, that would be the same day she was to forget she had a mother. Those words shut her off from her mother and from herself, just as she began to tumble down into a darkness she would not be able to get out for almost two years. Summer came and went in numbness and fear, and nothing else stopped Elena from leaving. It was then that she met New York and its cacophony; its raucous presence. That shameless way in which it shrugs its shoulder and lets you know it does not give a damn about who you are. New York was exactly what she needed, and the place where she met herself halfway. Acting had been the reason why she had chosen this city. She wanted to study it, to experience it. But she never thought just how vulnerable it would make her. She was nudged every day by her teachers and classmates towards an edge she did not want to fall into, until one particular class opened up in her the raw wound that was awaiting to bleed. Once it was opened, Elena was no longer able to contain it. Her teacher sat down with her and words came tumbling out mixing the freedom of the truth with the fear of judgement. But she was heard and accepted, and in that moment Elena obtained the first ally she would have throughout her life. Her teacher found a community center where the youth was just like her. She found the deepest of comforts in knowing that just by being there they knew who she was… and that was okay. However, she was still scared and hurt, and each morning that came she asked anyone who could hear her why she had to be like this. Amongst her friends and even her teachers, she was the last person to accept herself. She talked to her mother every day. After what had happened that night, it only took her a couple of weeks to allow the two of them to go back to how they used to be. They pretended like nothing had happened. Until one day she approached her the opposite way. She was baffled, to hear her mother say for the first time that if there was something she needed to tell her, she could. Her throat closed and her hands began to shake. She was desperate to talk to the only person that mattered, but she was also terrified of the consequences. Her mind flashed back to that night, to the promise of walking away if she ever knew who she truly was. She felt that by confessing it, Elena would be saying goodbye to her mother, the person who shared so many memories with her, who turned her into the woman she was to become. She would walk away and she would be left with no one, no father and no mother. But she braced herself, because she was drowning in her own truth and she needed to find a way to breathe. The day she told her mother she was gay, in the middle of New York’s noise, everything fell silent. Elena had never felt loneliness like that. To have her mother cry and ask her why, as if it had been a matter that could be solved by a single answer. To have her blamed for the sorrow she had inflicted upon her mother, and to have her left alone, with the line disconnected. She had never felt more lonely than she did as she cried in bed that day, wishing more than ever that somebody could hold her and tell her that everything was going to be okay. And though her mother didn’t walk away, the gap between them grew wider until neither one of them was able to reach out to the other. Three years ago, at nineteen, Elena moved to Los Angeles. Time became her friend and helped her heal a couple of wounds, though she did not feel stronger nor did she dare to flaunt her sexuality. There were still traces of shame left in herself, but she felt that she could at least face the day with more honesty. By then, her mother and she had reached an unspoken agreement that her sexuality would remain behind the curtains, but after a catastrophic series of decisions that led her mother to lose their home and her business, the decision was made that she would follow her to the city of Angels, causing the strain in their relationship to become poisonous. They were continuously harming each other, Elena with her actions and her mother with her words. Being under the same roof left her bearing thoughts of a deep-rooted hatred towards herself and what they had become. Lies and threats kept coming out of their mouths, and grieving tears were shed over what they used to be. So she moved out. She walked away from her mother not knowing they would not talk or see each other for a year. She was 20 years old. Walking away like she did was the hardest decision of her life, though her heart kept the belief that it was done for her mother as much as for herself. She was just too tired of being the cause of her pain. During that fall Elena began school again after her emotions carried her too far away from ever pursuing an acting career. She found herself a roommate to share an apartment with and continued to work full time. She went through her days working hard to overcome every obstacle her way while studying and fighting towards the goal of being able to stay in the country that had sheltered her for the past three years. It was all done with her mom in her mind and in her heart, for very night she would close her eyes and try to feel her presence, just a few miles away, and yet so distant. Across the city, her mom was selling juices. With no more papers than a tourist visa, and no home to go back to in Mexico, her mother’s resilience brought her to the heart of the Diamond District, where Elena ran into her one fateful afternoon. The moment their gazes locked, Elena walked up to her with the fear of finding in her mother’s eyes nothing but resentment and detachment. Instead, they hugged in silence, because none of them had the words to explain what they had felt throughout that year of absence. That was the moment Elena knew in her heart that she would never let go again. They went through some rocky months, her mother with a resentment towards what she had done and Elena with a tiptoeing fear of ever saying too much or too little. It took them a lot to accept their faults and their mistakes, until finally came the point in which they accepted that they needed the help of someone else. Therapy wasn’t easy. Her mom cried a lot. Her pain had been deeply rooted in the disappointment she felt towards herself, and her daughter’s lies and the defensiveness of her actions. Elena’s sadness and self-hatred, if it had been tangible, could have filled the whole room. But day after day, it became easier to see each other; for her mother to laugh at her silly comments and for Elena to listen to the gossip of her mother’s work. They began to patch up the cracks of their relationship with honesty and acceptance. A little over a year ago Elena met the person she wishes to spend the rest of her life with. A girl with lovely brown eyes, and the most generous heart. A person who accepts her entirely and makes her feel loved and valued even on the days where the darkness of her past takes over. The person who, for the first time in her life, made her feel that what she had to say was valuable and proved it to her by falling in love first with her words, and the girl who made her believe that even despite the pain, love exists and it really does get better. After all this time, her mother and her have come to a point where their relationship is stronger than ever, and the most honest Elena can ever remember it to be. Her mom is far from perfect, but she now knows and accepts who she is, loving her for it and not despite of it. And not only that, she adores her girlfriend. Because no matter how many times the world screams at her to be different, Elena will raise her head high. After all, she only needs the acceptance of herself, those who love her, and well… her mom’s.