How a radical Nuyorican “twitterputa” ended up madly in love in Los Angeles
Long distance puterías.
By MAEGAN “LA MAMITA MALA” ORTIZ
I blame social media. It’s way easier to point the finger at direct messages than it is to say it was all the fault of a man. Don’t get me wrong, he, a born and bred Angeleno via Ecuador and Guatemala, is wonderful. How else to explain my moving myself and my two school-age daughters to the city of angels from the city that never sleeps? But I’ll still blame Twitter, because admitting that I, a self-proclaimed put@, meaning sexually and otherwise independent single mami, fell madly in love enough to leave the city where I was made and raised is hard.
The West Coast had been tempting me for quite some time. After the Twin Towers fell in 2001, I came to Los Angeles to visit a Cubano Colombiano lover who moved to Sherman Oaks. He showed me the parts of LA you see on TV and in the movies like Hollywood, Santa Monica and Malibu. I ended up not moving with him because his home became his car and that seemed like an inappropriate place to raise my kid. In 2004, the West Coast swallowed another one of my lovers, a Colombian surfer with whom I was having a hot and heavy relationship. He caught his big break into showbiz playing a Spanish conquistador for a cable TV channel. He made imperialism look hot but I was left unoccupied.
I wasn’t planning on leaving Corona, Queens, where I lived with my two daughters in a cramped one bedroom apartment over a dental clinic. I wasn’t planning on getting into a monogamous heteronormative relationship. I was pretty content with my life as a single mamita mala as much as I was struggling financially like most everyone else in hoods across New York City.
From Corona to City Terrace: my new view.
Twitterputeando, my word for flirting online via the social network, had gotten me in trouble before. Pero always down to flirt, I started tweeting with a smart and smart-ass LA law school grad, activist, and IT manager who happened to know some friends of mine in real life (lest you think I am completely careless). As our communications went from the lurid to the intimate we went backwards on the communication evolutionary scale. From tweets we went to emails. From emails we went to phone calls. From phone calls we went to letters until I decided that enough was enough and used my income tax refund to take my kids and I to meet this mystery man who signed his letters with his first and last name and quoted poets and philosophers (oh yes, he had game).
Now here is where it could have gone incredibly wrong. K, whom I had never met, offered my broke-ass family his casita in Boyle Heights. He stocked his fridge with food for the kids and me. Now this could be interpreted as sweet or creepy. Plus, I had never seen this man in real life before. We never skyped, something that would become a staple in our over-a-year long distance relationship. What if I thought he was hideous? What if he thought I was hideous (not likely)?
Clearly none of us found the other hideous. K. took me out on a first date to Union Station and Chinatown (even thought that date was cut short thanks to my 4-year-old vomiting all over a friend and their car). After two days I asked him to stay in his house with me and my daughters. He opened up a different side of Los Angeles to me. With him I met other activists. With him I learned about East Los Angeles which reminded me of Corona, Queens except with French fry burritos, inaccessible supermarkets and pharmacies, and a pain in-the-ass public transit system. Oh, and no Puerto Ricans.
A year and a half later, I took a one way flight with my ChileRican daughters (also a rarity out here I’m sure) from JFK to LAX. My pareja picked us up and took us to our new home in City Terrace.
No more Skype or sexting.
I’ve been a Los Angeles resident for two weeks. I’ve traveled across the city by bus, navigated the Los Angeles Unified School District, tried (and failed) to do laundry NYC-style, gone to a free concert, and even paid a visit to the local public benefits office. Each visit, encounter, and interaction with Angelenos has taught me something. Most of the those lessons can be summed up by something a recovering meth addict told me on a Metro bus one night., “Oh! You’re Puerto Rican! Read my palm. You people are good at that.”
Except I can’t predict the future so every day is another adventure for this Nuyorican in Los Angeles. I hope you’ll join me on this trip.
(Photos: Maegan Ortiz)