As I have been reflecting on my childhood, I thought I would tell you about this amusing moment I had when I was very little. It was the summer after my 1st grade year and I had been spending the whole summer running around with this little kid that lived in what would have been the ghetto if a town of roughly 300 people had a ghetto. He was a little African American boy and during those times in the 1980s we were still entering the era of interracial relationships due to the fact that we were a small town. Things happened there much later than they did in the city, culture liked to walk at a slower pace from there to here. So here I was, all of my seven years, running around with this little boy and then all the sudden we decided ‘we were in love’ and we were going to ‘go out’. In the 80s for little kids, this basically meant we could hold hands and kiss each other on the cheek, it was pretty prudent but we liked to think of ourselves as “growing up”. Due to the fact that I was a little Caucasian girl (despite my Mexican heritage) and he was an African American boy, we figured we better tell someone – starting with Gramma, who was like the whole Town’s Gramma.
We stomped past the railroad tracks, through the little town (no more than a mile each way) and went to my Grandmother’s house. We were holding hands, proud of ourselves and this ‘change’ we had no idea we were embarking on and there was my Gramma, much younger than she is now, putting away the dishes that had been there since before my Father, and I said, “Gramma, I have something to tell you.” She didn’t even stop putting away the dishes during our important moment, she just said, “Hm?” So I puffed up and holding my little friend’s hand I said, “He is going to be my boyfriend!” And my Grandmother turned around and saw the little boy and then said, “Oh no, I don’t think that is going to work out.” I was prepared, the little boy was a little less as he shuffled with his feet. I got pretty stubborn then. “Oh yes it will! I don’t care what color he is I am going to go out with him!” And my Grandmother, such a sly little smile that crossed her face, tried not to giggle at me. “Oh, no no, Amanda. It’s not that he’s colored.” (Remember my Grandmother came from a different era.) “It’s because he’s your cousin.”
All I remember is the laughter as the two of us, the little boy and I, screamed and ran out of the house trying to wipe our hands on the grass outside as if we just committed incest by touching palms. I scrubbed my cheek with dirt and he ran all the way home almost crying. I don’t remember ever speaking to my cousin after that day. We were too horrified. Soon after my family moved again, but I now look back on it laughing as my Grandmother had laughed, at the image of the two of us standing there hand in hand willing to make change in a tipsy racial society and finding out we were cousins.
I hope, wherever he is, he looks back and laughs too.