Thursday proved to be another amazing day at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. I attended two workshops, took another lovely walk into San Miguel’s Centro, and spent time talking with other people who had come to the conference.
But as is often the case, the best part came at the end of the day. The 6:00pm keynote address was the most poignant presentation I have ever attended.
Luis Urrea was born in Mexico but raised in the USA. He began his talk with a vivid portrait of his parents, so very different in every way.
Luis’ mother called him Lewis or My Dear Boy. Quite obviously, she was a modern American woman.
I was hooked. I would pay close attention to this man.
Yes, yes, yes, there were hundreds of other people in the room, but I knew that this world famous author had a special message for ME.
I listened to everything he said and I strained to catch the significance of what he didn’t say – the secret code of bi-cultural souls.
He talked about his family in Tijuana, and his life in San Diego, in Rosario and when he went to college. He spoke about his godparents and their daughters. He spoke of the 96 year old woman who also lived in the home. He told us about the lessons he received from these people and their profound goodness.
Luis Urrea also spoke about racial prejudice, of inequality, and of the lack of opportunity.
Then he switched gears and spoke of Cindy, his American wife who is his media naranja. I identified so much with everything that came out of his mouth because everyone and everything he described is part of my world, of my experience.
But most of all, Luis Urrea spoke about love – in all its many forms and manifestations. I realized that his message was not caught only by ME. Everyone in the room also heard him loud and clear.
When Luis Urrea finished talking, he received the most spontaneous standing ovation I have ever heard. After the Q & A, he received another standing ovation. So many people made their way forward to thank him. I would not normally have joined them, but this time I did.
When my turn came, I had no words that could adequately express my deep gratitude. I told him, “I am like your wife, and I have lived in Merida with a man, like you, for 37 years.” He took my hand and told me he was glad I’d come. I turned around and saw a woman smiling. This had to be Cindy.
It was like looking in a mirror.
*** Footnote: I am sorry this post is late but the one poor thing at this conference is the internet reception. We have been without signal for more than a day!