Category Archives: Contest winners

Reader Submission: The Thick and The Thin by Christine Benvenuto

Christine Benvenuto’s story is the first in a series of reader stories about friendship breakups we will be sharing on our blog in the coming days.

 

The Thick and The Thin

Christine Benvenuto

Right smack in the middle of one bright winter Saturday afternoon I called my friend’s cellphone. “Hey,” I said when she picked up, my voice friendly, casual. “Where are you? Whatcha doing?”

“You tell me where you want me to be.”

“No, really, I was just wondering – ”

“You tell me where you want me to be and I’m there.”

Despite my certainty that I had conveyed just nothing of the crisis moment I was having, she wasn’t having it. She knew. A few minutes later, true to her word, her car pulled up curbside and I hopped in.

She rescued me – that day and countless others during the tumultuous course of a nasty breakup and divorce. It wasn’t a one-way street. “I have to see you,” she texted the day she suddenly wondered if a harmless office flirtation maybe wasn’t quite so harmless after all. On the road to my home, I veered off to swing onto hers. She told me everything. We told each other.

We weren’t childhood friends, college friends, friends as young singles. We met as mature career women, wives and mothers with virtually nothing in common. Different religions, different cultures, different economic backgrounds. In some respects, different values. We shared a few, though. Like the value we placed on friendship.

If all the ways we weren’t alike didn’t keep us apart, nothing would. During times of man trouble my friend would spin out our shared future: we would buy a house together, or she would just move into mine. We’d be old ladies together, strong women who didn’t require men to keep us from being lonely because we had something better: female friends. Our collective brood of half a dozen children would come and go from our home. Her daughter and one of mine were going to be best friends for life, just like us. Sooner or later, they’d bring our grandchildren along with them.

Oops. This is where we stumbled. Our daughters were friends, good friends if maybe not quite BFFs. Until, one day, they weren’t. My daughter kept making me invite hers. The answer wasn’t no. It was silence. “I’ll ask her and get right back to you,” my friend would say or text. Then: nothing. I got it. It was too hard to keep making excuses. Too painful to keep saying no.

My daughter didn’t know what was wrong and neither did I. tried to ask my friend if anything had happened between the girls. She insisted, convincingly, that there was nothing. “I would make them talk it out if anything had happened!” she told me. And she would. If they’d had a fight, she would have kept them talking until they made it up. But there was no fight. Her daughter had simply stopped being my daughter’s friend and there wasn’t a darn thing either of us could do about it.

My daughter mourned. She suffered. Her heart was broken and I held her while she cried. Then the day came when I dried her tears and told her she had to move on. And, wonder of wonders, she did.

It’s wrenching to see your child through her first rejection, but as mothers we know that’s part of the job we signed on for. What do you do when the cause of that heart break is your friend’s child, the very friend you would have otherwise told all about it?

In the months since our daughters’ friendship ended, we’ve tried to stay in touch. We’ve sent messages. Asked each other to meet. We’ve agreed to meet, only to have one or the other of us cancel at the last minute. It’s awkward. It’s weird. It’s the elephant in the room, or rather it would be if we were ever in a room together.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. It doesn’t have a sad ending either. It doesn’t end at all. We will find a way back. Sometime. I think so.

In the meanwhile, I have to marvel at our undoing. Who would have guessed that the wedge that would come between us would be one of the very few things we have in common? It’s our wild, passionate, and utterly committed motherhood that has thrown our friendship onto the rocks. The most important trait we share.

Shebooks/Latina essay contest: Gringa No More, by Lourdes Rosario

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In her essay, Lourdes Rosario writes about how discovering Latino literature helped her feel proud of her roots as a Latina.

“I excelled in reading and writing and read many of our great authors, such as Jose Luis Borges and Mario Vargas Llosa, in the original. But I couldn’t roll my “r”s without feeling a little fake. My inability to speak Spanish with what I thought of as a genuine accent often made me feel as if I was in imposter in my own culture.”

Read it in Latina.

Shebooks/Latina essay contest: Yo Soy Latina, by Sonia Lopez

Sonia Lopez, a runner-up in our Shebooks/Latina essay contest, writes about straddling the identities of American Girl and Mexican Daughter

“I began my life barefoot, my body aching the ageless ache of knowing I had a lot against me. Latina women intimately learn the untruths that name and maim them, that judge, categorize, and criticize them into the size of their heads and breasts, that carve out their hips and dig out their depth.”

Read it in Latina.

Shebooks/Latina essay contest: Themselves on the Page, by Jessica Garcia

In this essay by Shebooks/Latina contest runner-up Jessica Garcia, a young woman who never considered herself Latina explores her Mexican roots.

“Spanish changed from ‘foreign language’ to language of my ancestors, one that I sought to learn not only because it sounded nice, but because it was a part of my identity.”

Read more in Latina.

 

Shebooks/Latina essay contest: That Which Is Shared, by Gabriela Yareli

 

In this essay about working with immigrants, Gabriele Yareli, a runner-up in our Latina/Shebooks contest, reflects on the struggles of other Latinas who are new immigrants.

“Though I am Puerto Rican and a U.S. citizen, all of my life, through church and family friends, I was surrounded by Latinos who had gone through a lot to be in this country; some who still lived in fear.”

Read the rest in Latina.