A Movie Review and Love Advice from a Manicurist in Mexico City. El 3 de marzo de 2019.
“Que pensaron de la peli Roma?” (What did you think of the movie Roma), I ask in Spanish.
The expression spreads from the corners of her mouth into a downward spiral. Her Mexican Spanish accent fills the room. All of a sudden, I feel goosebumps crawling down my right arm, all the way to the freckles on my wrist.
“¡Hijole!” she exhales. “Roma. I didn’t like it,” she adamantly states, still frowning, waiting on a response. Her blue eyes almost daring someone to respond.
“Como que no?! Roma reminds me of my childhood. Slow, the old cars, the view of the city from my grandfather’s roof, the sheets flying in the wind as my mother did the laundry.” Erika, the nice woman doing my manicure smiles. Her eyebrows are quite impressive and I wonder who taught her to apply lipstick, because I want to learn too. The woman next to me taps her polished grey nails on the glass table.
Paula, on my left looks at me, and says, “I did not like it one bit. Enough with the same movies about women having lack of resources and working jobs they don’t like.”
The woman to my right looks directly at Erika. “I want movies about women that inspire me.”
Intrinsically, I know not to respond. I know better. It does not matter where in the world you are. When you are younger and older women speak, you listen. I know that the movie Roma is some woman’s reality, but I also agree. I nod my head side to side, neither agreeing or disagreeing. Enough with the same narrative. I want to see a better portrayal of minorities and indigenous Mexicans in media and movies. I decide to not say this. I am still learning Mexican culture and how I should portarme (behave), so I change the subject instead. “My favorites are chick flicks,” I tell them in Spanish. I regret it immediately.
Erika stops, places my left hand on the towel, and looks me straight in the eyes. “Do you have a boyfriend?” The salon goes silent. It is not necessary to look over to the other side of the room to realize that everyone is listening.
“No, I don’t…” Should I tell her that I am a hopeless romantic who spends my time watching romcoms on Netflix until I can recite the words? That my mother has called me geographically unavailable but the nomadic part of me has slowed down enough to want to stay in one place and experience this love thing? Do I tell her that I beamed with joy on my way to the salon when I saw a couple rollerblading and holding hands in the bicycle lane this afternoon? Do I tell her that I spend time alone in parks writing in my journal? That part of me cannot admit to the fact that I am lonely, but yet happy at the same time, walking around in this beautiful city alone o sola, in these beautiful parks, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be, watching young and old couples fall in love around me.
“Hopefully you find a Mexican boyfriend,” Erika declares, all dry and unforgiving and matter-of-factly, but even though I know she means no malice, my face boils red with embarassment and I feel my underarms start to sweat. I never knew my face could do this.
Erika and the ladies in the salon giggle and nod in agreement. She finishes my nails, a bright, fiery fusion between red and orange. I thank her. She squeezes my shoulders and tells me I’ll be just fine.
“Cuando se hace las cosas con amor, se nota.”
“When one does things with love, you’ll recognize.”
She kisses me on the cheek and I later write what she said in my journal.