Dreaming by Diana Burbano

The daughter of Mexican immigrant parents who was brought here as a child is now a DACA member and faces the threat of US deportation. Her mother, without a husband and money, has returned to Mexico, hoping to return to the States one day, under better circumstances.

CHARACTERS:

JULIA, 18. A young Latina, dressed in a t-shirt and clean khakis.
ARINDA. 40s. Julia's mother. Mexican, flamboyant, vivid. Not a stereotype.

 

SCENE: Julia is in transit in Oklahoma. Arinda is at her home in Tijuana. They are Skyping and can see each other. Julia, a young Latina, dressed in a t-shirt and clean khakis, is speaking to her mother, Arinda. Arinda is older, Mexican, flamboyant, vivid, and with a heavy accent. 

ARINDA: Mija, please-- reconsider.

JULIA: Do you want me to go back to Mexico?

ARINDA: Mija--

JULIA: I don’t want to feel like a criminal anymore!

ARINDA: Are you calling me a criminal for bringing you to the US?

JULIA: No, Mami. Don’t be such a drama queen!

ARINDA: I’m la drama queen? I brought you as a baby, when your dad walked out on us, so you could have a better life! And now you want to throw away all my hard work.

JULIA: I had to find out I wasn’t a citizen by applying at McDonalds.

ARINDA: I don’t want my daughter to work menial jobs.

JULIA: Why didn’t you TELL me?

ARINDA: Because, you are so American, Mija. I thought you could get away with it. Ya pa’que talk about it? You got your DACA.

JULIA: And it could be gone at any minute. What if they make me go back to Mexico?

ARINDA: Imaginate! Mexico! No!

JULIA: I love you Mami. But be practical.

ARINDA: I am practical. I’m an artist, but I learned to clean houses for you.

JULIA: For people who treated their dogs better than they treated you.

ARINDA: Remember the time I found one of those water bottles full of pennies tucked in the back of a closet in a bedroom? And when I showed it to the señora, she laughed and said, “Take it Monday!”

JULIA: Why did she call you Monday?

ARINDA: Because we say, “Mande” when we speak to them (she sighs). It means “Command” in Spanish. The lady couldn’t pronounce my name, so she called me Monday.

JULIA: Oh my god.

ARINDA: I couldn’t carry the bottle home on the bus, so I started rolling the pennies. During my breaks I rolled and rolled. I rolled $346. That woman threw away $346 like it was nothing. That’s when I realized, I’ll never fit in to the American way of life.

JULIA: And it had been sitting in this closet for YEARS. How could you stand it?

ARINDA: That place was much better than the box factory I had to work at when your dad left me, carbon.

JULIA: Listen, I called him just before I left San Diego. He cried. I didn’t buy it.

ARINDA: Que asco. He drops me for a gringa, and he treats you like a mascota, a kitten he doesn’t want to take care of.

JULIA: You made it work, mami.

ARINDA: I felt like a terrible mother, going to the night shift at that box factory. You having to wake up in an empty house—

JULIA: – and walk the mile to school every day. But, you talked to me on the phone the whole time.

ARINDA: These putos at the factory. They didn’t allow us to have phones! I had to hide mine under my sweater, just so I could talk to you.

JULIA:  Listening to you in my ear made that walk bearable.

ARINDA: Remember how I used to sing to you? (Sings) “Where have all the flowers gone…”

JULIA: Mami. Sometimes I wonder if I should have let you go back to Mexico.

ARINDA: Mija! It was for my own dignity. I teach singing instead of cleaning houses. I’m the best singing teacher in Tijuana!

JULIA: There is no money in it. Not really.

ARINDA: I’m saving, I’m saving for a little ranchito.

JULIA: Ay, Mami.

ARINDA: A yoga retreat! 40 minutes from the border! With an outdoor bath, que lujo!

JULIA: Mami, you’re the dreamer. Not me.

ARINDA: Pues si. No one’s more practical than Julia. Que dreamer, ni que nada. Mija’s gonna be a lawyer and make una bola de money!

JULIA: I thought you wanted me to be an artist, like you?

ARINDA: Or find a rich Gringo!

JULIA: (Laughs) You’re crazy!

ARINDA: Loca yo? Mas loca tu! No te vayas, mija!

JULIA: I had to decide. Stay here and risk being deported, leave of my own free will, or enlist--

ARINDA: No Mija! You shouldn’t have done that!

JULIA: Why not!? Maybe I can do something to help my country.

ARINDA: Mujeres mueren!

JULIA: More drama.

ARINDA: They do. They die. Especially smart women, who want to change the world Mija--

JULIA: Mama. The president doesn’t think I belong here, why not show him that I’m willing to die for this country?

ARINDA: Ay Dios, mijita. Asi no se hace!

JULIA: I wish I spoke better Spanish. It would actually be an asset here.

ARINDA: Spanish is a language of oppression in the US.

JULIA: Yeah. I got tired of people looking at me and seeing a dirty Mexican. The guys here really seemed to care about me.

ARINDA: Are they white?

JULIA: Who?The recruiters? Well, yeah.

ARINDA: I hate white people.

JULIA: Mama, that’s racist!

ARINDA: How can I be racist? I like Middle Eastern men. Did I tell you? I met an Egyptian man and decided I would try his gods because mine had abandoned me. He treats me like a queen, but his family doesn’t like how loud I am.

JULIA: Mami. Ya. I don’t wanna hear about your boyfriends.

ARINDA: Un boyfriend, Mija, mi Arabe.

JULIA: I thought he was from Egypt?

ARINDA: It’s the same thing!

JULIA: Mami, don’t let him take advantage of you.

ARINDA: Never mind me. You have to be more than these people expect you to be. You have to be smarter, work harder, push and push and push.

JULIA: How can I do it without you? Mi amor. I’m never going to see you again.

ARINDA: No, mi Diosito, Amon-Re says we will.

JULIA: I haven’t hugged you in so long.

ARINDA: Stay mi amor. Stay con tu DACA, and your dreams. The Mango Loco in the White house won’t be there forever! (sighs) I miss el Negrito.

JULIA: Mama!

ARINDA: Que?

JULIA: You don’t SAY that!

ARINDA: Pero mi amor! Es Negrito o no?

JULIA: He’s AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

ARINDA: A Negrito presidente. No wonder the gringos got so pissed off.

JULIA: Ma, please!

ARINDA: Hmmm, tan fina. You’d never survive in Mexico. You have a gringo sense of humor.

JULIA: I have to go Ma--

ARINDA: Let’s go to Canada!

JULIA: Refugees a Canada?

ARINDA: Si, that little Prime Ministro is so cute for a Norte Americano.

JULIA: Justin Trudeau is a hottie.

ARINDA: Si. Chulito. The France guy isn’t bad either.

JULIA: (Laughs) Ay Mama. It’s always about men.

ARINDA: Just looking! I have to stay interested or I’ll dry out like a cactus.

JULIA: I miss you so much.

ARINDA: One of these days we will be together again.

JULIA: Maybe.

ARINDA: Como que maybe?

JULIA: Mami-- They are calling for all enlisted to get ready to move out.

ARINDA: Niña mia--

JULIA: This is the last call I can make until after basic is over. I’m sorry Mama-- as soon as I can, I’ll call, and I’ll send money.

ARINDA: I don’t want the pinche money! I changed my mind, vengate pa’ Mexico, we’ll make it work.

JULIA: I can’t. I’m already in Oklahoma. We’re about to board the bus. I’m supposed to give my D.I. my phone. I love you.

ARINDA: Mija--

JULIA: This is the best way! They have to make me a citizen if I fight for them, right?

ARINDA: No Mija! No they don’t-- They’re going to use you, get you killed…

JULIA: Mama. Give me your blessing.

ARINDA: Ay, mi Niña.

JULIA: Please Mama.

ARINDA: Bendiciones.

JULIA: You don’t mean it.

ARINDA: I do. Cuidate mijita. Que dios te bendiga.

JULIA: Which dios?

ARINDA: Whichever one actually exists.

JULIA: I have to go, Mami.

ARINDA: Niña mia!

JULIA: I have to go now-- I love you.

Julia hangs up.

ARINDA: (Sings to the tune of Where have All the Flowers Gone?) Don-de están las flo-or-es, ho-ras pa-sa-a-ndo. Don-de están las flo-or-es, tiempo se fue. Don-de están las flo-or-escortadas por las jóvenesCuando aprenderan? Cuando aprenderan?

Lights out on Arinda. Julia stands at attention.

VO: “The U.S. Army will continue to welcome noncitizen recruits. Concerning naturalization, the decision to become a U.S. citizen is a voluntary individual decision and each service provides some assistance to service members seeking citizenship. The list of immigrants who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their new country is long and distinguished--”

The sound fades. Lights out.

 

 Portrait by Crystal Galindo   Diana Burbano, is a Colombian immigrant, an Equity actor, a playwright and a teaching artist at  South Coast Repertory  and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble.    Diana’s plays focus on female protagonists and social issues. Work: Policarpa (F inalist Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Brown Swan lab 2017 ), Fabulous Monsters ( Latinx Play Festival, San Diego Rep 2017 ), Caliban’s Island (2017  Headwaters New Play Festival) , Enemy|Flint April 2018 at Rio Hondo College, and Linda, (English and Spanish), which has been seen all over the world. She was the 2018 playwright in residence for Marfa Live Arts in Marfa TX. Visit her at  dianaburbano.com

Portrait by Crystal Galindo

Diana Burbano, is a Colombian immigrant, an Equity actor, a playwright and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble.

Diana’s plays focus on female protagonists and social issues. Work: Policarpa (Finalist Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Brown Swan lab 2017), Fabulous Monsters (Latinx Play Festival, San Diego Rep 2017), Caliban’s Island (2017 Headwaters New Play Festival), Enemy|Flint April 2018 at Rio Hondo College, and Linda, (English and Spanish), which has been seen all over the world. She was the 2018 playwright in residence for Marfa Live Arts in Marfa TX. Visit her at dianaburbano.com