I've Had The Time Of My Life

There are points in time when someone feels like they've arrived. Wednesday at 2:33 PM, driving down Bernal Avenue about to turn on Main Street in Pleasanton, I thought it; I thought I may have just arrived.

My fingers tingled, clutched around the steering wheel, and my heart accelerated like the car's engine when I pressed the gas pedal, and then the perfect song played for me. The Dj spun this track just for me—it's my imagination, and I've always heard if you can dream it. Thanks, record spinner, or is it an MP3 player?

Anyways, then, Patrick Swayze magically appeared in the passenger seat, okay...Sorry for the detour. Back to what happened.

I've Had the Time of My Life blasted from my speakers, and I called my son, who was in the car behind me. There couldn't have been a more fitting song for this moment (that's why I knew it was intentional). So, I cranked up the volume, belted it out, and smiled at my baby (adult son) in the rearview mirror, who was also dancing in time with the bounce coming from my car seat, and did something I rarely do—I took in this accomplished sensation. I let the warm light encase me in joy. I soaked in this crucial outing with every breath I took and every lyric I sang. I also saw the Dirty Dancing film playing in my head. Who doesn't see Patrick's

moves when that song plays? I know every step he and Jennifer make in that iconic scene!

When I parked in front of the quaint corner store, the song ended, and I took a big breath and released it. I walked through the indie bookstore door and found one of my BOOKS in the front, next to I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (I just read it, how funny). MY BOOK in a store perched next to a best seller. One in adaptation for a movie! My book, wow…then I slowly walked over to Biographies and Memoirs and found my second one. Right next to Stanley Tucci and a bunch of other famous writers. Oh, my corazón.

While I stood In front of that skyscraper of a bookshelf, I paused and got it. I got "it."

Where I arrived today was here— one of my favorite places to be. I was no longer just a visitor among the pages of words, stories, places, and poems. My name now logged into a bookstore computer, and parts of my life and imagination had a price tag, nicely placed on the back of the covers I designed.

So how did I get here? One small step at a time. One shameful feeling, slipping through my toes and into the earth to be buried and lost. And most of all, because of the people who believed in me and encouraged me to trust myself. Not an easy thing to do for someone who grew up thinking she had no gifts and wasn't worth most things.

I found myself standing there trying to learn how to celebrate, me, and I realized this celebration is for us all. Every person who told me I could do it. Everyone who gave me love, those who didn't, those who walked away, and those who stayed.

For all those told, they couldn't. For Hispanics and women who feel their voices are not worthy. Especially for the countless souls who do better than where they come from yet never can forget.

Art and positive expression are forever a win for EVERYONE, and I could not do or be the person I am without all of you. So thank you for helping me to take a step closer to dreams I never accepted I had. Thank you <3 I owe it all to you. (See, wasn't that exceptional song timing?)

It's never too late to rise from the ashes and bloom,

Monique





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