She Lives on my Block: Migrant Music Monday

My parents came to this country with my older brother three years before I was born.  While I myself am not an immigrant, I am more than well-acquainted with the struggles that leaving their beautiful home in Iguala, Guerrero encompassed.  Aside from the countless financial difficulties my parents, Maribel and Salvador Figueroa, encountered, they struggled most with an overbearing and overwhelming sense of homesickness.  But they crossed over for a reason, and they combated this necessary pain as best they could: with music.

Some of my earliest memories consist of my parents sharing stories they had attached to their favorite exitos y canciones: stories of the places where they heard a particular song for the first time and hold old they were, songs that reminded them of the primos y tios they missed, songs they dedicated to old friends and lovers, and of course, songs they dedicated to one another.  Thanks to this beautiful sense of connection, I’ve always associated the immigrant struggle with the idea and concept of nostalgia; moreover, the Portuguese idea of saudade, which is a form of deep and melancholic nostalgia that comes from the loss of a person or thing. In my parents’ case, they’d have saudade-trips about the loss of their home in a country they’d been in their whole lives.

I, much like my parents, also enjoy sharing music and the stories and memories I’ve attached to my favorite songs.  The Los Angeles based band Chicano Batman’s song “She Lives on My Block” is a song I tend to revisit whenever I encounter spells of saudade; in particular about the loss of my Mother from cancer which I experienced in 2011.  “She Lives on My Block” is the simple and innocent love ballad of a lover who daydreams about their muse, who happens to be the girl next door. The song is beautifully accompanied by a lo-fi and romantically psychedelic instrumental.  The retro sound perfectly coupled by the lovely lyrics reminds me of the passionate and unrelenting love my parents maintained while my Mom was alive.   I can picture myself as a child sitting in our living room watching my parent’s slow dance in the middle of the kitchen with this song in the background.  My Dad always loved retelling the story of how he met my Mom, and how he couldn’t wait for the Summer because it meant he got the opportunity to travel to his Grandmother’s house who was neighbors with my Mom.

It is with saudades like this that I am able to cope with the hardships and issues that arise with being the child of immigrants; things like seeing the longing in your parent’s eyes when they talk about home, or language barriers.  Reminiscing on what is gone allows me to look forward to better days, much like the days where I was able to see what love was supposed to look like and how it should be shared with another.

Dennis Figueroa is a 23-year-old, Hip-Hop obsessed Xicano student of literature bound for San Francisco State, but born, raised, and currently rising in Anaheim, Sur Califas.  He throughly enjoys writing about music, La Raza, and his qualms about Anglo-saxons and Aryans.
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