Dear Miss O’Keeffe,
This morning I awoke early with this word ringing in my head like an alarm clock. Abuelita. I got out of bed and the apartment was pink. I looked out the window and the sky was an explosion of fuchsia color mottled by dark grey and green clouds. In ten minutes it was over replaced by a sheet of mild lemony yellow lavender, as if it had never erupted in such intensity.
As I am making tea I remember that I heard a woman asking for “Abuelita” in the grocery store yesterday and that it is a kind of Mexican hot chocolate that my sister and I used to serve with chipotle paste rubbed on the side of the cups when we worked at a Oaxacan restaurant in Brooklyn. My sister taught me a lot about food in our Brooklyn apartment, much too small for all of us.
There is a song by Beck that mentions abuelitas called Que Onda Guero. “Abuelitas with plastic bags, walking to the church with the spanish candles…” I used to run in Brooklyn with this song blasting in my ears, long hair swinging.
Maybe I am claiming you as my ancestor, my abuelita. I want to hang in the kitchen with you, take long walks and slow down… see the beauty in nature. I want to learn from your fierce independence and search for self-authority. I want to spend a year at your house, safe in the routine of life…not afraid of the quiet moments. Learning from a life almost completed.
I don’t know very much about you but I already know that you created a world where it was safe to be you.
I see you raise your eyebrows now and say “there is no safety”.
Would it be okay if we explore this together? I don’t know how you might answer this question, but I will look for answers in the sage brush in Griffith park today.
With deepest respect,