Remembering Love Songs

My eyes opened. I felt my cozy, fuzzy blankets beneath my tired eight-year old body and softly I could make out the gentle hum of guitar strumming and sweet, Spanish lyrics.

The stereo was on.

“What is this? What time is it?”, I asked myself.

Why is music blasting from the living r-“ and before I could finish my thought, the answer came to mind. It was Saturday. My mom cleans on Saturday mornings and by the looks of it, it was almost afternoon. Like lightning hitting my bed, or like the jolt that happens while balancing on a chair, I jumped out of bed, quickly brushed my teeth, changed out of my camisón and (quietly) rushed out to the living room area. Stepping out, ready to look like I had been awake all morning, I could finally understand the words that only moments before had woken me.

Suena una guitarra cada día

I saw my mom at the sink in the kitchen. To my relief, she hadn't noticed me yet, and she was singing along with the song in happy spirits. If this song was playing, she was feeling light and happy. I was safe from a reganada. Phew! “She loves this song,” I remembered.

She once told me that it was her favorite song because it was the hit song when she was a young, youthful teenager. I think she must have heard it when she was in love with some young man back in El Salvador, which is why she gets so happy. It's a romantic song. It's a love song. 

Cada vez que sonríes, late mi corazón. Every time you smile, my heart beats. 

It's such a sweet, innocent love song. And it's how I see my mom. She is sweet, though she is also a force to be reckoned with, she carries this innocence that I've never seen anywhere else. She survived a civil war that took many of her friends, neighbors, and gave her a childhood that was consumed with fear, violence, death and constant anxiety. She survived a refugee migration sacrificing her only home for her future, leaving all the things that made up her life. She’s seen so many scary things, felt fear and persecution and yet there she is singing in the kitchen. She sings because of her memories. Wearing her Saturday clothes, she gently sways to the beat of the song. Shifting her weight from hip to hip, with a little tap of the toes ... 

Escucha mi canción, nace del corazón. No sé si te das cuenta, que te quiero. No sé si me comprendes de verdad. No sé si me comprendes de verdad. 

Hear my song, it comes from the heart. I don't think you realize, that I love you. I don't think you truly understand me. I don't think you truly understand me.

From my eight-year old eyes, her singing meant that I was off the hook. Now, through my adult eyes, her singing means so much. It means perseverance, resistance and love, in spite of the many despicable things life threw at her. In this memory of my mom, she never turns to look at me, but that’s not the point. My memory, is simply highlighting what I’m witnessing. She is the woman who carried me across countries, she is the woman who raised me, who loved me, who fought with me, and who definitely called me greñuda, desordenada, and every now and again, huevona but she is my mami, mi amor

When I hear this song, I think only of my mom in this way. Whatever association she had with a guy, or with her young life in El Salvador, it's now my love song to her. Every time you smile mom, my heart beats.

It’s in this unique place of overwhelming love, mixed in with gratitude, inspiration and a touch of sadness that SalviSoul is born. It’s fills me up inside. I'm not sure if that's what they can melancholy but it's what I feel. It's a space where the memories of my childhood live. In these memories, my parents are sharing their stories, which are their memories, and so their memories, become my stories.

I’ve learned how to live listening to these memories. They’ve shaped me, they’ve taught me how ugly life can be, how precious it is all at the same time and that it’s always worth fighting for. My mom singing, despite all of life’s efforts to silence her, is proof of that.

SalviSoul is the place, where together, we learn to appreciate those love songs and recipes passed on to us.

con amor


Karla Vasquez