Two Chamorros walked into a store.
That’s not a joke setup. That’s what I wanted to read as my “cause of death” as I was convinced that I would die in the Kmart parking lot with my young sleeping son, waiting for my mom and my uncle to emerge from the store. TJ and I waited in the car, aircon blasting, while my mom and her brother searched through the big box store like they were responsible for memorizing all the prices and reporting back to the entire island on how much colored pencils were. Hours passed. I flipped through the newspaper and People magazine. Checked my email. Looked back at my sleeping son and then wondered what happened to my life that I could be so far away from home and yet tethered to the same exact roles of her shopping and my interminable wait.
This is the ritual of a traveling Chamorro, particularly my mother. Forget the gorgeous mountains or other natural landscapes that this state provides and head straight for every place seen on TV commercials back on Saipan. My mother believes advertisements, buys the retail product as seen on TV, not settling for the generic version even though it’s the same exact thing but cheaper. She repeats the advertising phrases like they’re sound science and not generated from marketing strategies. “You just set it!” She’ll exclaim. “And forget it!”
She’s proud of my weight loss but is offering me advice–as a Chamorro mother is wont to do, especially to her youngest daughter–like I all of sudden need her help. She spoke to my uncle in Chamorro and told him to tell me that not only do I look “maosoksuk” or slim, but that I want to hear it. And I stood there and interjected kindly with, “I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE, MOTHER. I CAN HEAR YOU.”
When we stopped at Burger King later because that’s what my uncle wanted to eat, my mom had to lecture me about my choices. “Only eat one french fry! Only one!” And then later, back at my brother’s house, she fried fish and made white rice with oily, garlicky chicken adobo. Eat this, not that, Chamorro style.
And apropos of nothing but its crappiness, I fell yesterday right as my bus pulled up to the stop. I had been walking with my friend when my shoe caught onto an uneven part of the sidewalk. The world shifted forward and I was splayed on the ground. I got up and told my friend to catch the bus and I would just walk home to clean up. And on the short walk back, I must have looked like I was attacked. My knees were bleeding down my legs, my hair was disheveled and I had the face of someone who realized that her messed up knees negated all hot, short dresses planned for BlogHer next week. So maybe this is a sign that I’m not cut out for anything sexier than a Julie Andrews’ nanny outfit in the Sound of Music. And how do you solve a problem like Ramona?
I ask myself that everyday.