Five times today you laughed at my accent.
Yesterday, it was three.
And I rolled my eyes as you rolled your R’s in exaggeration, laughter dancing in your eyes.
And even though I said “fuck you,” we both know I meant “thank you.”
For the reminder.
That my father stumbles on his words too but with him, there is no humor.
That his back still aches from days long spent in labor so that at the age of seven, they could try to correct my pronunciation in the classroom.
A reminder that I will not forget the redness in my mother’s cheeks as she grew with embarrassment for not knowing how to respond at my parent teacher conferences.
The accent that slips from my tongue those three, five, 10 times a day is a slap to my wrist when I begin to lose sight of my roots.
The roots buried so deep in me that grew stronger every time Papi would hang up my report card, A’s lined up like soldiers.
Roots wiggling at my toes every time my mother flinches at my broken Spanish.
And she didn’t see that I heard it too and my heart bruised like fallen mangos.
That’s why my culture is not that taco truck on 3rd Street.
It’s not poorly mimicked salsa dances while your buddies clutch their stomachs in laughter.
She looks like me. Knots and curls and wild brown eyes.
She looks like hips swaying to roses laughing and opening up in Spring.
She looks like Spaniard sand and Indio clay.
Like sun-kissed lips humming Spanish lullabies through muddy eyes.
My accent is my reminder that I am not rooted to this land, even though my parents cheer for Team USA.
My accent is my tongue dipping itself into sweet spices and exotic juices of our ancestor’s harvest.
My accent is not there often, but it’s damn sure not something I hide behind closed palms to my mouth.
On the contrary, when you’ve laughed at me for the fifth time today, it’s a tally mark of how many giggles you can get out of me.
A tally mark of indentations to my memory.
I thank you.
Because I am grateful that my mouth is still bursting with memories.