something fierce by carmen aguirre

memoirs of a revolutionary daughter

“My mother insisted on bringing her daughters with her, and not only that, on having another baby while living underground. As far as she was concerned, a woman shouldn’t have to choose between motherhood and revolution. She wanted both.” (100)

“The least I could do, I figured, was walk around with a broken heart.” (117)

this one had me thinking a lot about inheritance and the “choices” that we pass along to our actual loinfruit, or the kids that just witness us by proxy. i think about the adults that i knew, the ones that i listened to better, even if they said the same things as my parents, because they listened to me back. i really feel that there’s this distance between someone you never have to blame (in the heat of an argument) for your sacrifice in time and elasticity that allows you to see his/her beauty in a way that’s impossible when you’re too close (read: similar in mannerism and dna) to someone. i am great-full to all my parents; real and imagined, volunteer or appointed, the ones who stay and the ones who bounced. but ultimately, i’ve been fortunate enough to make my own choices based on what i’ve been shown. i feel for the protagonist here at times, especially when she was trying to process at a child-this must’ve been a tough road to hoe.

“I knew if he was really a revolutionary, he wouldn’t walk around in his black beret with the red star quoting Che Guevara for all to hear. He’d be underground, like Bob and Mami.” (128)

“At their house, we weren’t expected to be brave and mature and revolutionary. We could just be kids. Pinochet might be in the fortress on the corner every weekend, but it didn’t matter, because the most important thing was us, and my grandparents would do anything to keep us out of harm’s way.” (77)

“Mami’s voice broke as if someone had pressed a thumb into her throat.” (163)

as i get set to spend another holiday with someone else’s mom, i reflect on how we find each other, and how friendship trumps genetics every single time in my books. but as i listen to her complain about her daughter (who has a very different public profile), i gain insight on what my dad could be saying about me, and it’s hard for me not to see both sides. but that’s none of my business. my job is to cherish the relationship we have as chosen mother and daughter, one that started at 32 and 65ish-one without the actual obligations, resentment, and other assorted baggage of an actual mother-daughter relationship. i get to introduce life partner to an open and proud parent who unconditionally approves of him and our union, and she gets to prepare a meal for a daughter who listens to her and respects her life choices and reading recommendations. maybe that’s why i’ve been singing christmas carols all week-i’m acknowledging that i truly am blessed.

“Charity was vertical, keeping the relationship between haves and have-nots intact.” (15)

we believed in revolution is outside the quote bracket, but under the quote, and i think that’s a great place to end tonight. thank you.


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