"Estas loca," her father's voice emerged deep from under his cowboy hat. "Nunca te vas a casar."
You are crazy. You will never marry.
Valeria was crazy. She thoughts were slow like snails on Sunday afternoon stroll. But Valeria was In Love. And Love cares nothing for the speed of thoughts.
Valeria wore this dress daily. She made it with her own hands in 1956. She loved large pockets. One could save dead birds for burying later in large pockets. One could store crusty tortillas in large pockets to feed alive birds. Valeria's pockets were full with possibilities.
"I WILL marry!" she said. Her voice was deep and throaty. "I love Marcos. Lo AMO! And he loves ME!"
Marcos did Love Valeria. His thoughts were desert turtles, which are only slightly faster than snails on a Sunday afternoon stroll. His thoughts were slow but his Love was strong.
They held hands behind enormous Alamo trees and shared sloppy, wet kisses and the loud laughter of adults who are still children at heart.
In Valeria's Mexico, (the Mexico in which my mother was born) if a young girl with a favorite suitor disappeared in the night it was common knowledge she was now a marred married woman.
"Se la robo," the town would whisper. He stole her away. He had his way with her and now they must marry.
Father would pull out his shotgun and demand the young man in question make an honest woman of his daughter.
Looking down the barrel of a gun generally convinced any young man he could learn to love, whether he did at the particular moment or not.
One fine morning Valeria's mother discovered Valeria was missing. She had not slept in her bed. She was found at the home of Marcos. His bed had been slept in.
"Se la robo!" cried her mother.
"Se la robo?" cried her father. "I will kill him!"
There was no need to kill Marcos. He was ready and willing to marry
Valeria and Marcos were married. When the papers were signed and all was said and done Valeria laughed.
Valeria laughed long and loud. Her face was red with laughter. The laugh was a flash flood rolling into a dry river bed. The laugh swept up live stock and deeply rooted trees without shame.
"You all think I am CRAZY!" she roared. "But I AM A VIRGIN! I AM CLEAN! I CAN WEAR A WHITE DRESS! JA JA JA JA! YOU THINK I WOULD LET A MAN TOUCH ME WITHOUT MARRIAGE? NUNCA! NEVER! YOU! YOU ARE THE FOOL! NOT I!"
Marcos had respected her the night he stole her away. She had demanded it. Her virtue was everything.
PS. I went to Jr. high with her daughter, Maria. Maria is smart as a whip.
The dress I wear here was not worn by Valeria (that I know of) but was hand made in the 1950's. I'm certain she would have worn it given the chance.
Also, Valeria's name is not Valeria. She is my mother's first cousin. Brilliant, no?