©2017 by Project K.O.D

Interview:
VALENTINA

HUMBOLTD COUNTY

Generational teaching | Food | Family | Rain | DACA |  Community | Carnival | Laughter |  Hombolt | Mexico

Where is home for you?

 

Home for me, I think it's wherever my mom is. Because of her rich food. Whenever I eat her food it takes me back to places i’ve never even been to. She tells me stories of how she learned to do this, or she learned to do that. By eating her food, and being there with her I hear the stories that take me to those generations I have never ever met. Events that I was never even been a part of, but my mom was there. Even when she comes to the Bay, she brings that same exact aura to the food. It is a happy place.

What were the most memorable things that remind you of
your mother’s food, reminds
you of home?

 

With my mom’s food, it is the chile. Every time she cooked that damn chile, oh my god, my sinuses going haywire. You would always hear someone sneezing left and right, someone coughing. It was amazing.
My mom would cater for other people, and would often start in the morning around 5 AM so by 7 AM we would all be coughing.

 

The conversations with my family were always about food. Like we would say, what did you think about the beans today? Or Dad’s tortillas were thick. Everything was about food.

Growing up, what
was your community?

 

It was definitely the Latino immigrant community. That was who my parents came to first, and because of that my only friends growing up were only latino until I went to school.

What are the non-physical parts
of your home that you miss?

 

My mom and dad love to say old sayings from our town. When we would ask my dad for money he would reply with, "de lola que se robo la gallina," which translates to "like lola who stole the chicken."
We would always tell my dad,“that does not even make sense.”

 

It was weird because my parents were not around a lot, but their presence - it felt like they were there. I think it was because we saw that they had very little sleep. You knew they were at work, so mentally you had to keep kicking ass because your parents are working their ass off. You knew that your parents did not go meetings or events, so you had to show up for yourself, for your siblings.

How about the material things that remind you of home?

 

Water. Back where we live, it rains a lot. A lot. So growing up, you’d sleep and all you hear is the rain. Just pouring rain. Among the rain, you’d hear the door slamming, the people leaving the house, kids crying.

 

Me walking to school, it’d be raining. We did not have any transportation. My dad was the only one who would take the car because we were undocumented. So we’d walk to school up until we got DACA, then we got our drivers license. We’d walk in the rain to school -
no matter how many miles. Sometimes you’d ask your white friends for rides, but that's about it. It is a rural location, so it would be blocks away from the bus. It’d be easier to just walk to school then the bus. The rain definitely reminds me of home.

Have you seen change in your home? What are those changes?

 

Community-wise, it depends. Among the latinos, there has been change. They are so much more outspoken. They started their own center for undocumented people up there. It has been a huge improvement compared to 5-6 years ago. You see more Latinos taking up more spaces, in high schools, elementary, job spaces. They are leaving Humboldt to study somewhere else, and then coming back. It is fixing the brain drain that was happening. A lot of POC coming back after studying in college and practicing what they’ve studied.
They are understanding that they can come back.

 

But my white allies? They need help. Some of them they are so clogged. They do not know what is happening. Many people don’t understand their privilege. It is such a bubble. I do have a handful of white allies that I love and have always been there for me and my family.

Do you feel your home is susceptible to any kind of danger?  

 

Humboldt county is beautiful. Rivers, hikes, camping grounds, so peaceful. But it is also home to marijuana. Now a lot of the spaces are being occupied by marijuana growers - left and right. People are starting to use that territory for marijuana use.

 

There's this beautiful place called strawberry rock and this logging company used to own it and now they shut it down. They like to own the local territory.

 

Also, during this political climate, I am scared most for the latino community because the white folks up there - just some children who show up to school and so happy to be white. Racist words in the classroom and teachers don’t do anything about it. This is a huge threat to us. This is a threat to the POC community.

 

And health-wise, there is a mental health crises. Opioid use. Have you ever heard of adverse childhood experiences? So it means traumatic things that happen when you are a child and later on in life, it is expressed through things such as chronic illnesses, mental health. Humboldt county is the number one county in the with the highest rate of ACES. Suicide, incarceration, divorce rates, substance abuse, chronic illness.

But no one talks about it…?

You’re right. Health access in this rural town is very limited, so people that do need help can’t get it.


 

 

Throughout our conversation, you’ve brought up
your family a lot especially your parents. Would you say
that your ideas of home is different than your parents?

 

Definitely. I haven’t been back in 18 years and I have no recollection of Mexico. But my parents do. My dad wants to get buried in mexico. He already told me, “If I pass away here, take me back to Mexico. It doesn’t matter if none of my children can’t see me,
I want to go back to my homeland.”

 

My mother, her suffering has definitely shaped where her home is. All of her family is living here so she wants to be here.
If she goes back to Mexico, she will be the only one. All my siblings, they would think home is in different places.

What does home mean to you?

 

I need laughter. A lot of laughter. I need people who are calm in my home. I need people who can make music out of anything.
*starts clapping*

I love how you said people - like in plural form.
 

Oh yes, I need people. I told my mom, bring all your children. Everyone's gonna live in my house. I get my energy from people around me, so if I’m alone you bet your ass I'm gonna be depressed. I need a whole carnival.

About The Contributor

 

Feby Boediarto: Project - Material Home | Immaterial You