I was excited about this. I knew you were going to be hanging out at my house, but I was a little apprehensive too. I mean, my house wasn’t as nice as yours. I was afraid you’d stop liking me seeing that we didn’t have money, but you weren’t like that because you never made me feel that way. You showed a lot of interest in my little brother, which he loved because he thought you were the coolest cat in town. You were asking him about all his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he was pleased as punch to enlighten you on their individual talents. Little did Adolfo know that you were already schooled in the art of Turtle, because Ryan was as big of a fan as he was.

My dad paid special attention to your exchange with Adolfo, taking note of your good qualities, and very likely looking for any bad ones. I think he also liked that you were especially interested in his grilling technique: two grillers, one veteran and one prodigy. It was fun watching you guys. I remember your face when dad took the fajitas out of the pan and slapped them on the grill, you looked amazed. Then, he squeezed lemon on it and you seemed so very puzzled by this. I remember you asking dad, “Why did you do that?” and dad said, in his typical smart ass way, “Why not?” His normal way of never answering a question and confusing the hell out of people. I got the biggest kick out of your inquiry as to why he put the whole slab of fajitas on the grill, “Why are you cooking it like that? Wouldn’t it be easier to cut it up?” and I got an even bigger kick out of my dad’s cavalier response of “Maybe…”

My mom brought out two glasses with some of her wine cooler in it with a lot of ice, we were both thinking we were big shit 8th graders, soon to be 9th graders. How funny that is, we thought we knew something at fourteen years old. Man, we didn’t know crap! Remember when you asked for the butter for your tortilla, and how my dad looked at you like you were crazy? I just looked at you and shook my head, thank God you figured that one out, Mexicans don’t know anything about buttering their tortillas, that’s an American thing. I think my dad was confused. In any case, the way you acted after taking a bite of your taco was priceless, that full-mouthed, “Oh my God, this is so good!” made my mom smile, even though my dad grilled. She was the rice maker, and that was fine with her.

I loved sitting on the porch after we had cake. You held my hand, which was fairly brave considering my parents were right in the living room, but I think they were purposely not saying anything about it. They were giving us space, it was surprising but refreshing. I mean, we were very young, they should have been concerned. I know I would have been. Well, they probably were, but I never thought about it then. You always had a way of stealing looks, and the funny thing is, they weren’t really stolen, cuz I gave them away. I loved the attention you gave me, I just never knew how precious it was. Gosh, I remember how silly I was back then. I remember how everything I did was in the effort of gathering your approval. I was such a dumb little girl. Back then, I had no idea if I just would’ve asserted myself more, you would’ve have appreciated the confidence and self assurance on my part, but I suppose most fourteen year old girls haven’t grown into that yet. I think you really appreciated the woman I grew into, because you certainly behaved that way. You were just so loving, so damned loving that your sheltered me from the scary world outside, but I eventually learned that fear is very real, and it does exist. I learned that the hard way.

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