By Elbethel Berhane, ’24
I love my life so much right now. I feel like I am one of the luckiest people in the world. Who knows when you’re going to meet someone you will want to see for the rest of your life.
Now, you must be a bit unclear on why I’m so satisfied with my life right now. Let me first introduce myself. Hi, I’m Jane, I am 17 years old, and I’m from Mexico but live in Houston, TX. I have four other siblings, and I’m the oldest. Also, my smile is infectious. That’s all you’re required to know about me for now.
Let me catch you up on something. Let’s consult… When I was 15 years old my family went to Austin, TX from Semana Santa. Each year, there is a Mexican community in each city that plans a holiday that they are assigned to host a fiesta. Austin was assigned Semana Santa, so we came to celebrate. It was my first time going to Austin because it was like four hours away. We would usually go for the ones that are a little closer and celebrate Semana Santa with our friends and family. It’s fun because you meet new friends that you would have some similarities with, especially in your culture.
Any whom, as I said earlier it was my first time there, so my younger brother Miguel and I walked around so we could see if we would meet any new people. Miguel accidentally bumped into this guy we had never met before. He apologized and we just started having a whole conversation. He could tell that we were new because, one, we looked a bit lost, and two, we have never been here before. He told us how he has seen me before when he came to Houston this one time. And no, he has never seen Miguel. AHHHHH, yes! He has noticed me before. His name was Lucas. In my head, at that time, I thought he was pretty cute. Miguel asked for his Snapchat, but I never said anything. So, he got Miguel’s but I just never asked for his, and he never asked for mine so… Eventually, we left because my dad never liked driving at night.
A couple of weeks passes by, and Miguel and Lucas started snapping each other. Miguel sent a pic of him and it had like half of my face in it, and Lucas asked for my Snapchat. So he got it and we started talking. Like a lot. We would never call or like facetime. I guess it was because we just wouldn’t have a lot to say. After all, we haven’t known each other for that long. I thought he was cute but I would always ignore that part. We would call each other best friends so I just counted him as a friend, not knowing if he liked me that way.
Eventually, Cinco de Mayo came along. You know, the holiday where Americans find an excuse to eat a whole bunch of tacos and things like that. So, this time it was celebrated in Columbus, TX, which is like the city between Houston and Austin. So, we knew that we were both gonna be there. At this point, no one knew that we became friends. We went to the event and planned out what we were going to do. He talked to his two friends and I talked to my two friends. We “accidentally” find these groups of friends and we all introduce ourselves to each other. Guess what, this plan worked out perfectly. Well, except for the fact that they found out that we already knew each other. We were being very sarcastic and we kept dragging our friends to meet each other.
So, we all became one friend group. So, it was me and Lucas. Then, for the boys, there was Alejandro and Antonio. And for the girls, it was Rashelle and Adriana. So, we created a group chat so we could all keep in contact. We were all from different cities except me and Adriana. We practically grew up together. Going back to the point we would constantly use the group chat. And Lucas would still talk to me but mostly through the group chat. We got so used to it that when we ever talked alone, it would be awkward.
It can be lonely sometimes when you think that no one is there for you. When I was young, I lost my madre to breast cancer. I was 10 years old. Miguel had just turned nine, my twin younger siblings were five. My padre became depressed. It’s hard losing someone you loved. I loved my mom so much. I stayed with her in the hospital for the last couple of days that she was alive. I remember her last night. My dad went to go get some coffee. I was holding my mother’s hand tightly. She said, “Take care of your siblings, I love you so much.” That was the last thing she said to me. She was so beautiful. She looked so young. I never knew it could be that difficult losing someone. Adriana stayed with me for like a whole two weeks having sleepovers. Trying to make me forget. Papa would come back home with his eyes half-closed. It always looked like he was crying all day. You could easily know that my mama and papa loved each other. Right from the start.
I don’t like talking about my mom because every time I did, you would see me balling my eyes out. I would always remember the last words she said to me. That’s why me and Miguel became so close. We needed each other. The twins had each other and they were still young. I remember how Miguel and I would try to cook Mama’s favorite dishes so many times. My papa would come home with the kitchen looking so dirty. I loved how he was never mad because he knew that mi mama would love to see that. It took us a long time to perfect it. Like I mean the second anniversary of her death, though we had some help from Papa.
I didn’t tell people that I just met that my madre is dead. It would just ruin the “OMG it’s so nice to meet you” because they would just feel so sorry. I’m guessing you want me to tell you if Lucas brought it up. Well yeah, it came up in a conversation. He’d noticed how we never really got to know each other’s family. Only the friendship between Miguel and Lucas. But we were telling funny things about our family, and he noticed how I never mentioned my mom. I told him how she had died a couple of years ago. And of course, he felt sorry for me.
I guess I haven’t given much of an update on the relationship. We went back to calling each other besties. I do like him a lot. There would even be moments where I would think he liked me, but for some reason, I would just push that thought aside. Though I felt like Alejandro was trying to get close to me, like in a weird way. He would tell me some random stuff that I never needed to know. But I also don’t mind because I love las noticias. I always thought that he was the weirdest out of all of us. He could be so quiet but people always tell me he is the opposite.
I was turning 16, and all my friends had already turned 16 or 17. So yeah, I was the youngest. My dad and Lucas were up to something. I never had a quinceanera because it was supposed to be my mom that was supposed to plan it so it never felt right. When Lucas found out he was so surprised. So that’s why I thought something big was going to happen. Also, I hate birthdays in general. I didn’t like it when a whole bunch of people are looking at me at the same time. I get so awkward. I also thought that I was going to go to a concert because Lucas was asking me what my favorite singer/band was.
It was the morning of my birthday and, in my family, we always had a tradition where you would give one gift in the morning and one at night. I was eating my breakfast with Miguel because we had to go to school. I know, school. But at least it was a Friday and the next week was winter break. Either way, mi papa and the twins came into the kitchen and started screaming, “Cumpleanos feliz, cumpleanos feliz…” They finally finished with all the screaming and my padre came in with my morning present. It was my madre’s engagement ring. She loved it so much, so did I. Mi papa and mi mama got engaged when they were 16. So he was waiting till I turned that age. It was so beautiful. It was so beautiful that I started crying. I never knew my padre still had it. What was so weird was that none of my friends ever said anything. No text from any of them, or even the group chat. Except for my “sister” Adriana. Duh. We went out for dinner. Me and Adriana. She wanted us to leave by eight so I could open my present. She kept checking her phone. Either way, we arrived home and guess who was at my house? Lucas, Rashelle, Alejandro, y Antonio. Yep. I was so surprised. But at the same time not really. The first thing I said was, “You guys—I thought you guys forgot about my birthday.”
Eventually, we all settled in and I opened my birthday gifts from all of them. They told me they had one more big one, from all of them including Papa. I was gonna spend the weekend with them downtown. We would stay at a hotel from that night to Tuesday morning. This was the best gift. I wasn’t even expecting it. But I kinda was expecting something. I quickly packed some stuff and left that house so quickly. I hadn’t been downtown for so long.
We quickly checked in to the hotel. We had two rooms. One for the boys, and one for the girls. Mi papa eventually left and that’s when the fun began. We settled into our rooms and we met at the boys’ room. We ordered “a midnight snack” and talked all night. We went to our bedrooms at 3. But we had planned our whole day the next day because we didn’t want to be all confused.
Earlier, I had just remembered when my mom told me stories of when she was turning 19 and how her friends and Papa went to a resort in Mexico for fun. I felt close to my mom at this point. Eventually, we woke up at around 9 and we ate free breakfast at the hotel. We walked, shopped, and ate all day.
At one point, me and Lucas stayed a little behind the rest of the crew. He asked how I felt about the whole thing. I said great, of course. We continued with the conversation. After some time, he started talking about how mi papa was discussing how to plan the weekend and how they wanted to make it special because my mom would have. This is how you’d know mi padre and mi madre loved each other so much. We then started gossiping about the group. I said how I was weirded out by Alejandro. He then said, quote on the quote, “Oh Alejandro… Hahaha. He thinks you’re cute.” I froze for a second because that was my worst nightmare. I started laughing, but at the same time, I felt bad because I didn’t like him. In the end, Lucas said his father was getting a little sick so it was a little nice to get out of the house. You could see how scared he was. His parents are illegal immigrants by the way. He was scared that they would send him home if he had to go to the hospital. I stopped walking and gave him a big hug. I said, ”Hey bestie… your dad is going to be just fine. You can tell me anything anytime and I will be there listening. Okay? BFF’s forever.” It was a thing that we just said to each other all the time for jokes.
We eventually caught back up with the group and went back to the fun day.
I went back to the girls and guess what I told them. I said, “I need to tell Lucas something. But I want to tell you guys first.”
Rashelle got so excited and said, “Just say it, what’s with the background explanation.”
So, I started, “Okay. I have had a crush on Lucas for a while now. I feel like he does but at the same I don’t. So I’ll tell him and if he doesn’t I’ll tell him nothing can change. And I hope everything turns out well. In the end, I just wanna have him participate in my life.”
“AHHHHHHHHH!” Adriana and Rashelle both started screaming.
“I knew it,” Adriana also said.
We headed out of the hotel room and the boys asked why they heard all this screaming from our room. We all said, “Nothing” at the same time. I was so nervous like I don’t think you understand. So me and Lucas “accidentally” got behind the group. We both said at the same time, “So, I have something to tell you.” We both started laughing. I said you go first so quickly so I wouldn’t have to start. And he did…
He said, “Well, remember earlier today when I told you Alejandro liked you? Well, I was just saying that because I thought you liked him, so I wanted to see your reaction.”
I said, “You liar, I felt so bad dude.”
And he said, “But, I just said that so I could be sure to…”
I interrupt and say, “OMG, Lucas. Stop. I wanna say it first.”
We both shout at the same time, ”I like you.” We were a bit too loud that the rest of them heard. Lucas hugged me, and I hugged him back of course. The rest of them joined in, saying, “I knew it.”
“So… Jane Lopez. Would you like to be my girlfriend?” Lucas said.
I said, “I’ll think about it.”
We all kept going, laughing our way to the restaurant. Having the time of our life…