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Maggie's Portfolio

Biographical Narrative


           The early fall wind whistled faintly in my ear. Deep pink bloomed in the sky as the sun fell under the horizon. The air was cool ad night approached. I watched with a tiny frown on my face as Anahi pulled two fruits off our neighbor’s tree. She jumped across to her own roof and climbed the wall to my balcony and gave me one.

            “You shouldn’t steal from their tree,” I told her.

            She scowled at me. “Every year it bears fruit and it goes to waste. Nadien lo come! No one eats it. And which is worse, letting it rot away or eating it?”

            I grinned. If you looked at it that way, it was better to eat it. I looked down at the large fruit. “What is this anyway?” I took a bite out of the strange red fruit. I chewed it for a second and gagged at the extreme bitter taste. I spit it out over the balcony. Anahi’s chuckle filled the quiet night.

            “Your not supposed to eat it like that!” she took the fruit and smashed it against the rail of my balcony. It broke and she pulled it apart. Inside were tiny red seeds. “Es un granado! A pomegranate! You eat the seeds.” I took a seed and tried it. It was sour and sweet at the same time. We both ate the pomegranate and talked about school until it was too dark to see and too cold to be out.

            Anahi is short and slender, with dark crazy curls. She has determination glittering in her eyes, and a stubborn chin. She is my true best friend. I have known her all my life. She is my next-door neighbor in Tijuana. When I was growing up, we were like sisters, always together – either I was in her house, or she was in mine.

            My first memory of her was defending me. I don’t remember what I did when I was little, but my grandmother was punishing me and threatening me with a wooden spoon. Anahi stood between us, hands on her hips. “You can’t hit her,” she insisted. “No hiso nada! She didn’t do anything.” My grandmother frowned. I must have been only three or four. Anahi was only eight. And my grandmother smiled at her.

            Entonces tu cuidala. Then you take care of her,” she told Anahi.

            Anahi was a true daredevil. She has so much courage and bravery. She was not afraid to say exactly what was on her mind, and she often was punished for this. She challenged boys to fights as we were growing up. She lost every time.

            Pero no importa,” she would tell me. “It doesn’t matter that I lost. I still proved I wasn’t afraid of them.”

            She walked on the roofs of our whole neighborhood. She climbed trees, and took fruit. She climbed the flat cement wall of her house to get to my balcony. This is where we spent most of our time. We copied a whistling sound, a birdcall from a bird that used to stand on that pomegranate tree. We called each other using this birdcall. I go out to my balcony when she calls me, and she comes out to her backyard when I call her.

            One evening when I was at her house, we sat on the stairs overlooking the dining room, where her mother made a business as a cake maker. I watched her twirl the cake on a Lazy Susan, patiently adding flowers and decorations. I was always fascinated when I watched her make a cake. That evening we watched as she created a colorful birthday cake.

            “Life is a lot like cake making,” Anahi murmured next to me. That startled a laugh out of me. It was a hilarious comparison. She grinned too.

“But think about it,” she insisted. “Primero, no es nada. First it’s nothing. Then it grows, towers. Then it stops growing, and gets colorful and complicated, twisted and beautiful. Like life…” Silence stretched between us for a moment. I thought about this comparison and decided I agreed as her mother finished the cake and placed it in a pale pink box.

“And then…something so beautiful and great is eaten away until none is left…” she said softly.

 Anahi taught me so much about life. I taught English to her and she speaks it well. We have the same interests. We love ancient Egypt, for example, and we daydream about some day going to Egypt, to visit the pyramids and temples.  And I giggled.

“Too bad they’re just dreams,” I sighed.

She looked at me, grim determination in her eyes. “Sueños se hacen realidad,” she said seriously. “We will go there!”

And I believe her. Maybe one day we will go to see the wonders of Egypt. That day I looked at things from a different way. Not simply as dreams that could never be achieved, but as dreams that I could work toward achieving.

“Why be shy?” Anahi demanded one night as I cleaned the balcony. I had told her it must be fun to climb houses, trees, and walls. That I would love to do it but would never dare, because I was shy and afraid. “You can do it if you want,” she continued. “Fear is such a bad thing. It holds you back from some of the greatest things in life. And embarrassment is worse. Most of the time people don’t even care what you do. No one would think less of you.” I stopped mid-stroke of sweeping the last bit of dirt and looked up into the star-filled night. I’d never though of it that way before. She was right.

              And I eventually got the courage to jump roofs and climb trees and walls. But more importantly, what she told me that evening has helped me my entire life, with everything I encounter. I still go to visit her, still use the birdcall, and still wait at the balcony. She is twenty now. She’ll be moving on with her life. But the memories I shared with her shaped who I am today.

Copyright (C). 2005. Maggie Escobedo. All Rights Reserved.