So we’re just back from a week in Isla Mujeres, Mexico—our idyllic, early-spring respite for the third year in a row now. And though the level of relaxation I achieved there has been pretty much deleted ever since the speed-demon/tailgating taxi ride home from JFK, I do have plenty of magical moments to carry around in my head. Like floating on my back in the bath-warm sea, sipping a Dos Equis on the beach at sunset, lying in a hammock to stare up at the stars, building sandcastles with Lula, and watching her charge out of the water giggling only to fling herself into the sand. Oh—and when my wife Kiki explained to our favorite beach vendor, Javier, where Lula came from.
That last one is particularly rich, as it has all the elements of a good memory: beauty, humor, love, pride. Javier is from an indigenous Mayan community in the state of Chiapas, and, like many of his friends and family, spends his days walking the length of the beaches in the intense Isla Mujeres sun to sell vibrantly beaded jewelry, hair ornaments, key chains and purses, plus hand-woven bags, bracelets and headbands, all made by relatives back home. The beadwork is gorgeous, and we always buy a few items. And, while we’re at it, Kiki chats up the seller in her awesome Mexico-learned Spanish, and then the fun part begins.
“Did you adopt her?” Javier asked Kiki, looking at Lula, who sat on our beach bed with me inspecting his beaded baubles. His tone was sweet and shy and curious.
“No,” Kiki said, smiling and putting her hand on my shoulder. “She was pregnant and gave birth to her. But she didn’t have sex with a man.”
Javier looked confused, like we were teasing him, and then asked, “You can do that?” Kiki explained it all, as Lula and I debated which key chain was better for her great aunt, an owl or a ladybug. And so then came the lesbian-pregnancy lesson—how I got pregnant by receiving a gift—un regalo—from her brother, and by having a midwife put it inside of me. I blushed a little as she spoke, trying to focus on the choosing of new gifts, from his collection, but I was also so proud—of Javier for asking, of Kiki for telling, of our family for being. Javier looked toward my womb with wide eyes and smiled. Then looked at Lula and at me, and nodded.
“Do you have children?” Kiki asked him.
He did, and pulled out a photo of his 2-year-old daughter on his smartphone to prove it.
He returned day after day to sit and chat, have some water, and ask new questions. “How did you meet?” “How long have you been together?” “How can you get married?” “What do you call each other?”
We learned about him, too, and asked about the woman we had bought from the year before, Anna. He said they were friends, but that she had remained in Chiapas this year after giving birth to her fifth child.
“Oh, muy dificile,” Kiki said about five.
“Sí, muy dificile,” he agreed.
Anna had been our lesbian-pregnancy student last year. She, too, had shyly (but boldly) posed questions about where Lula came from. It took us quite a while to get her to believe we weren’t joking. “You don’t need a man?” she had asked, incredulously. She, too, came back day after day to visit and rest in our shade for a few minutes, and to ask us more questions.
We asked Javier to tell her hello. I hope she remembers us.