Political Content Writing Workshop:

If Rampart and Temple
Were Lovers
A Bulakenya Dream

Kathleen Gutierrez

If Rampart and Temple Were Lovers

I immediately recall the “extremes” of climate: fat raindrops, puddles, the smell of wet pavement or suffocating, dry heat that melted the blackened gum spots on my sidewalk.  I remember pigeons and a stray white rabbit on Temple St. I took it home with me and named it Castoff. The only flora that stands out is the fern-like weed that grew under my apartment building’s stairwell. Oh! And this tall, tall tree that acted as the protector of our front gate. My aunt must have cut it down sometime in the mid-2000s.

There is the Pan-American dance hall at the corner of Rampart and Temple. Diagonal to this is the 24-hour donut shop that easily had its “going out of business” sign posted for seven years. There’s also Amigos liquor and grocery store, a couple of doors away from the hall. That’s where my mom purchased my first pair of sneakers. I was so particular then, I picked pebbles from the shoe grip with a toothpick. And there was the large duplex across the street from our blue apartment building, where a classmate of mine lived. I delighted in seeing her come home from school.

Our music was 106.7 KROQ or the Time Life Christmas Classics—always on repeat by late November.

If Rampart and Temple were a lover, it would be a gentle one. 

A Bulakenya Dream

My mom has these deep scars—ones that are like burrows in her flesh. You might think pieces of her have been removed. She used to wear long skirts to cover a gash on her left ankle. She says it came purely from mischief and a cast-iron wok. Her shame was grafted onto me at an early age. But, instead of preventing wounds, I sought them with valor: each scar, evidence of being badass.

So, she grew up with fruit trees and meadows, a field for palay and multiple kubo. She was an adventurous one: rolling joints out of mango leaves and running away from home just ‘cause. I’d like to think I made the same of my surroundings. Our building was its own cove of linoleum splendor and light blue paint. I was a champ when it came to chalk and inventive, cinematic stories. 

Hm. It sounded like she had lot more space than I did.

Kathleen Gutierrez was raised in Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, and works at the California School Health Centers Association. She is a proud member of Anakbayan East Bay.