“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay?” Trump while campaigning, the crowd cheering.
I lived with an abusive, unpredictable husband- my first husband, married at seventeen, pregnant with my second child. While he was gone to the Marines for two years, I lived for a while in the worst projects in San Francisco- a woman (literally) raped nightly. I contacted a modeling agency- the director answered the phone, his secretary at lunch. Obviously amused, he set up a day/time for an interview. I was nineteen and very skinny. I began to model in San Francisco, saving money to move out of those projects. I stabbed a man’s hand coming through my window, my alarm system of empty cans clattering to the cement floor. In short, I was resourceful, a fighter- a bad ass, on guard, scared yet adventurous tomboy disguised as a boy. To roam San Francisco. Freedom.
When this husband returned from the Marines, the funny, sweet sixteen year old boy I’d met was gone. His childhood stories/trauma, the Marine Corp as bully- an abuser entered our home. He began doing Ironwork; his distant, punishing father the president of that union (his mother tying him up with clothesline, gagging him for hours). He became the bread winner. I became the housewife/mother.
I read magazines about home care and cooking, and I began to try French cooking- my masterpiece a filet mignon roast in brioche, with an exquisite red wine, mushroom sauce. My children’s clothes always clean, folded, ready for the next day. His ironworker clothes grimy with dirt/oil- he walked the high beams (a gift from his French Canadian Cree grandmother). I learned how to use bleach and our kitchen floor always waxed.
I patched my two son’s jeans, sewed my daughter sweet laced dresses. I took us to Golden Gate Park, the beach, for picnics- my freedom places as a girl. My upstairs neighbors often joined us- they were from Latin America. We created a large, extended familia. Their presence and love helped me survive this time of trying to be perfect. While he would regularly get drunk, spend the check, come home, break things, terrifying the kids. And I would clean it up, figuring out a way to beat him to the check (resourceful, remember?).
What I slowly began to realize was his total control of our family- if the kids placed their elbows on the table he yelled (like his father). His constant criticism of their behavior, and mine- what did I do all day, anyway? The disrespect of his tone of voice, barely tolerating us, his family. Then he’d build his son a wonderful Go Cart for the street- oversee the birthday piñata ritual, making all the kids present scream with joy. Build an immense, beautiful kite to fly on a perfect, windy day at Dolores Park. Then cutting the string at its apex, disappointing the kids- they wanted to fly it. No one complained. Total control. Even the joy.
Later I told the kids a bedtime story- I often read, Where The Wild Things Are, when Max yelled to the monsters, “Be still!” I told them the kite flew so high it became a star. We looked out the window. The youngest at three, “There it is!”
One morning as I was cooking breakfast facing the stove, something hit the back of my head and stayed there. I reached back, toast with jam stuck to my hair. The kids stopped eating. He smirked. Total control. Which also meant keeping us on edge- what’s the next outburst, unpredictability. Toast with jam stuck to my hair. This was a first, direct contact. I threw it right back, hitting his face. He was not prepared. The kids giggled. He stormed out. Return of the tomboy, but I was 120 lbs to his 210 lbs, six foot three, muscled, ironworker.
When he’d yell at the kids to take their elbows off the table, his constant criticism, their faces shrouded with fear/sadness- I’d intervene, giving them confidence. I allowed them to place their elbows on the table, as they glanced nervously at their father. The first time he threw a glass across the room, stormed out, got drunk, stayed away for two days. I was beginning to enjoy these mini vacations, while beating him to the check; not always but mostly.
And then in our face to face arguments, he began to use his 210 lb body as a weapon, throwing his hands in front of him like fists, quickly moving toward me, seeing my fear, that smile. When I learned to control my fear, not backing away, always having a household weapon at the corner of my eye- that’s when he punched me. “Here’s for your pretty face.” Fractured nose, two very black eyes.
Gone for a week, returned, to our bedroom. “If you ever hit me again, I will kill you in your sleep, do you understand me?” He did. He believed that tone of voice, but continued the body language. My lack of fear enraged him. That trained lack of fear is what kept my children and me strong. My Yaqui curandera grandmother, Jesus Villanueva’s dream training my guide- her words when she’d toss me back out the door, “No te dejas...Don’t take any shit!” When I’d come in crying, and when I returned victorious we celebrated con cafecito y leche. She saw my life.
This is an essay, not a novel, so much of the story left out (of course).
Divorce. A long vacation.
My parallel to our current president, Donald tRump- that demand for total control aka dictator. Constant criticisms, The Tweets- fake news, insulting adversaries at large, threatening Attorney General Sally Yates as a witness after he fired her, threatening FBI Director James Comey after he fired him, another witness. The list is long, extensive, insulting, attempting to discredit, silence any real news that tells the truth. His constant barrage of lies via The Tweets, his own orange mouth, misspelled, grammatically incorrect words.
When he and Hillary Clinton were in debate, his hulking, threatening, stalking presence, that body language, I actually became afraid for her. His unpredictability.
He might attack her. Right there. TV. In front of millions.
He was constantly insulting, “You’re a nasty woman.” Playing into the nasty misogyny of his voter base that cheered him on. That he dared to shoot someone on the street and get away with it…like a real man. In that moment, toast with jam in her face.
Hillary should have thrown it right back. Smack into that smirking orange face. Not smiled patiently, like she was dealing with a toddler, which she was (of course). He would not have been prepared. To meet his equal, even if half his predatory, stalking size.
Fifty-nine missiles to Syria- body language- Russians forewarned (of course). So called Mother Of All Bombs- body language- to Afghanistan. Poisoning earth for farmers, killing a handful of ISIS. North Korea, threat of body language. Ban of ‘terrorist based Muslim countries’- not the ones where he has businesses with (of course)- body language. Didn’t work. We have that pesky Constitution, which Sally Yates upheld, and other, yes, patriotic judges.
The border wall, “Mexicans will pay for it,” body language- deporting young Dreamers, parents afraid to send their children to school, parents separated from their children. Now, tRump at Nato, The Bully, body language- refusing to commit to the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, taking his time for final decision- body language. Bullying the entire world, our Earth. Can we afford anymore of this body language?
After firing James Comey by letter (coward), his refusal to stop Russian investigation- shorthand here, we all know this. The Russian Ambassador Kislyak and the Foreign Minister Lavrov, meeting with tRump the next day at the White House. No US press allowed. tRump leaked, shared the highest level of Classified Information regarding ISIS with these men. Israel’s Classified Information to US- their operative embedded within ISIS could be killed.
Twenty-three million slated to lose health insurance, penalized for pre-existing conditions, no maternity care, the list is long- immense tax breaks for the wealthy. The poor, middle class (what’s left of it) can die quickly and quietly. While tRump jets to Mar a Lago, millions each time.
Punch in the face.
Get rid of the whole nasty tRump team- if Russia hacked our election, we need a new one, now. Let’s throw that toast with jam right back, on target, that orange face.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
May 27, 2017
Alma Luz VIllanueva writes: I’m a US citizen, born in Califas, who chooses to live in Mexico lindo y querido- no me chingas. I’m a poet/writer, mother of four grown children, and I return to teach in US, visit la familia, friends.