About 3 or 4 years ago, I stumbled onto an Old Navy dark blue denim jacket. It had been abandoned in a lost and found pile at Cattlelacs in Manchaca, Texas, where Doug Moreland hosted a weekly music jam. Doug was de-cluttering, and if I hadn’t taken the jacket, it would have been thrown out or donated. It fit perfectly—tailored but not too snug, with enough room to wear a light sweater underneath. It was meant for me, and it became a vital part of my wardrobe.
I wore it all over Austin and the surrounding Hill Country, to West Texas, to Los Angeles and the Bay Area, to Santa Fe, and to Mexico. I wore it with jeans and skirts. I wore it to casual places and fancy places. I loved the copper-toned snap buttons and the two little breast pockets. The way the bottom flared out with a hint of Victorian style.
The Pozole and I moved to Arlington, Texas from Austin at the beginning of August 2016. After eighteen years in Austin, we’d more or less become experts in the Mexican food and taquerías of that town. But de’d only been to three Mexican restaurants in Arlington—once back in April, when we came for a visit, and the second and third time shortly after we moved here.
So far, I haven’t been thrilled. I honestly can’t remember much about the first one, since we were getting a quick breakfast on the run before driving back to Austin. The only thing I remember was getting a plastic engagement ring out of a plastic bubble from the red toy-vending machine. (Was the universe trying to tell us something?)
I grew up in Southern California, famous for its Hollywood movie stars, tangled network of freeways, and earthquakes. Somehow, I’d escaped earthquakes for the first ten years of my life, even though the San Andreas Fault line runs a stretch of over 800 miles.
It begins in Mendocino north of Sacramento, through the Santa Cruz Mountains and the San Francisco Peninsula, along the base of the San Gabriel Valley Mountains near my hometown of South El Monte, and all the way down south to the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley desert.
About ten years ago, I discovered 1920s and 1930s traditional jazz. The mix of cornet, trombone, and clarinet with the piano, string bass, and guitar (or tenor banjo) was exhilarating. I was already familiar with the clarinet from listening to Benny Goodman and his big band swing of the 1940s, but when I heard the New Orleans hot jazz sounds of Sidney Bechet, I thought, wow, this instrument doesn’t just make music…it sings right through your soul. It’s that feeling that makes the hair stand up on your arms and a tickle run down your spine.
My parents, being from Mexico, unconventionally spelled my name “Alexandra” instead of “Alejandra.” My mother would make the point that Mexico, in Spanish, was pronounced “meh-hee-coh”—meaning, the “x” had a “j” sound (the “j” sound in Spanish is equivalent to the “h” sound in English). Although, to be fair, the “x” in every other Spanish word has the “ks” sound (conexión, xilófono, etc.).