mini revolutions

This is the piece I read at the recent blogtitlan feminista gathering in Chicago.  This piece I felt was apropos for the event in that it was about Chicago, and about me finding my independence in the Windy City.  I didn’t want to post it here until I’d read it and until my companion on my mini-revolutions had heard it as well.  It is long but I hope you find yourself laughing and picturing me fierce with emotion.  (The other two pieces I read were Why I, and maybe we, blog   and ay no se que hacer..)

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I like walking down the street with him, holding hands enjoying our contradictions. We are opposites here. The city is his; he is comfortable in its clamorous chaos, while I weasel and fake my way into the big city, leaving my insecurities as the small cow-town corn field, naïve girl behind.   I feel like a grown-up, but you know, the kind that is free? The kind that isn’t concerned about where they need to be, or who they need to be answering to.  I am free; I am a big city woman, not a little girl from Ohio.   I am a woman in Chicago!

We walk into the bank alcove and our hands let go, as he fumbles with his papers to make the atm deposit.  Still in the alcove of the bank, he fixated on his banking, in complete oblivion to the revolution I’m about to instigate.  I am about to start the kind of revolution Michele Serros of Chicana Falsa fame would incite.  You know the story, where she grabs the “Hispanic Vegetables” from the frozen food section and asks why they are cut up so small? Is it because we are smaller? We are less of a people?  She unites the shoppers of the grocery store and they walk out united in the revolution against chopped up frozen food labeled “Hispanic vegetables”.  THIS is the kind of revolution I’m about to start!  Oh, if he only knew about the revolution and wasn’t so concerned with his deposit.

I’m staring into the bank, glaring at six picture frames, and in each frame is a head shot with a name beneath it.  Each frame holds a picture of a white man, named either Mike or Michael.  They are the branch manager, the loan manager, the small business manager etc.

I stare fiercely at the frames; the revolution is boiling within me and it makes me laugh out loud.  Inside the tellers have caught on to my staring.  Mind you again, he is still oblivious to my revolution…he is doing his banking.   I can see the three tellers discussing what it possible is I could be staring at, belly laughing at, and it is decided one of them must approach me and ask.

The lone woman teller walks towards me opens the glass door that separates us, and inquires “Is there something I may help you with?”  I smile, that revolutionary smile, the smile that will get you a chanclaso from your mother, and I respond “Oh no, I am just laughing at the fact that all six of your managers are white guys named Michael”

It is at this moment he comes out of his banking distractions and realizes I am up to something.  The teller, a middle aged plump white lady, looks at me and says “Yeah, we really can’t help how they are named”.  I chuckle again “Yeah, you really can’t help it either that the only people who know how to manage well, are white men”.  It is now her turn to stare, albeit at me, and she is completely dumbfounded.

He of course, has understood that this isn’t going to be a normal banking day.  He pops his hoodie up and with the utmost haste begins to walk out.  I follow him, glowing in the fact that I have started a revolution!

With my head swimming in thoughts of the revolution, he affectionately jests “That’s one more place in Chicago I can’t go because of you.”  I quip “Don’t worry, at the bank, all you black men look alike, they won’t be able to tell the difference and next time, don’t try to be inconspicuous by throwing your hoodie up and quickly walking away.  I hear that doesn’t work well for black men”.

He non-verbally mends the situation by restoring our clasped hands, and I begin to think of all the places he says he can’t go back to because of my many one woman mini-revolutions: the Wicker Park Walgreens, the Logan Square Chicago Deli, all three Sultans, the stop where the blue and orange line connect, and now the bank.  Maybe I have created my independent Chicago woman persona; I’m a revolucionaria without a cause.

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