My mother is the kind of woman who takes advantage of every sale and coupon. She saves things she no longer uses por si acaso, “just in case” she may need it in the future. She’s not a hoarder; she’s just a mom preserving the essentials. This is the first hat that my tiny head was tucked into within my first hour of life. It was a Sunday morning in August of 1993 when she heard the cries of hope. I cried, longing to stay in her womb. Wanting to remain the most intimate part of her, I cried. She held 7.5 pounds of her flesh and marrow. She covered my forehead and ears with this stretchy, blue-and-pink hat. Within this hat lain the head which held the brain that would later possess the mind that would excel in America, far beyond what her imagination allowed her to daydream of in that moment. This hat held my future, her future. The warmth of her fatigued, tender body confined all 22 inches of me. Mami made sure my feet were always wrapped, heedful that I wouldn’t get a fever. Even in summertime my feet were clothed in socks. Embraced by these slippers were the feet of progress, the feet that would forever change her destiny and mine. Her prospects for stability rested in these tiny, pink-and-white shoes. They gripped opportunities and triumphs. They fastened the steps that would climb the academic ladder. They held potential. Suddenly, I realize exactly how quickly time passes us by. Mami is aging, and I pray to God that I can make something out of myself before she goes.
– Nicole Gutierrez