Words from my heart
Jaime and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary on February 16. In honor of our special day, I share the following story . . .
Thirty years ago, Jaime and I drove our first baby home from the hospital in a ’64 Ford Custom 500 that had no air conditioning. It was August. In Fresno! But I don’t think we noticed the sweltering heat because we were overjoyed with our new bundle, a custom creation of our love.
Our story began in 1975, my junior year of high school when my hair flowed like Farah Fawcett’s. I had transferred from a small private school to a large public school, and felt like a lost sheep the first day. Fortunately, an outgoing student named Debbie helped me navigate the campus. By sixth period, I felt more relaxed and ready to take on typing class.
Mrs. Harris, the typing teacher, handed blank sheets of paper to the first student in each row, instructing them to take a piece and pass the rest along. I sat in the first row behind a boy with shiny black hair. When he turned to hand me the paper, he froze. His eyes locked onto mine, and he stared—he just sat there and stared! THIS is awkward, I thought. I slowly tugged the paper from the boy’s hand, kept one for myself, and passed the remaining sheets.
A typing test determined that our class needed to be divided into two groups. I was relieved that the boy moved to a different room, but quickly realized that he was right next door. Giant windows separated our rooms, and during class, he’d tip his chair back, catch my eye, and flash a smile. Little by little, the boy’s intense glare became a charming gaze.
Finally, after two weeks of eyeing each other, we officially met one day after school. I happened to be sitting on a bench alone, and he happened to be walking my direction. The boy—stylishly smooth in his bell bottoms and platform shoes—sat down, introduced himself, and after a brief conversation asked, “Do you want to go to my car to get some gum?”
“Ummmm . . . OK,” I answered. Jaime Ramirez and I walked through the Clovis High parking lot until we reached his brown car. “This is it,” Jaime said proudly. Ohhh noooo! A lowrider!?!? In that moment, I had to face the truth about my feelings toward Mexicans. What If I ended up dating Jaime? What would my family say? What would people think? Could I handle being seen in a lowrider? All I knew about Mexicans was based on stereotypes, and in my conservative world, those stereotypes put them near the bottom of the social ladder.
I sat in a ’64 Ford Custom 500 that afternoon, chewed gum, and began a journey with a handsome Mexican boy. We were married five years later, and then a baby boy joined our journey. From two blended cultures and customs, new life came—new life that rode home in a lowrider.
Truly custom love.