Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

03 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: There is no treasure like an honest friend


Elisa Batista co-publishes the MotherTalkers.com blog with her best friend Erika Bleszinski.

“Tiene el señor presidente

Un jardín con una fuente,

Y un tesoro en oro y trigo:

Tengo más, tengo un amigo.”


-Jose Marti, “Versos Sencillos”


My favorite poem in Spanish is “Versos Sencillos”, written by Cuban “apostle” and poet Jose Martí. I remember my father playing a narration of all 46 verses of Versos Sencillos, which is about friendship, on a record. I will forever associate that record – and that poem -- with my childhood home in Miami: my father in his stained blue jumper suit fixing his mustang while us four kids hooted and hollered with our friends.

Hence, two of the most valuable lessons I gained from my parents were that anyone could enjoy poetry… and an honest friend.

I am 37 years old, and I am still best friends with women I have known since I was 5. They were at my First Communion, and around to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and baby showers. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to make other best friends in addition to – not in lieu of – my childhood friends from Miami. And since they are all sisters to me, I’ve introduced them to each other, and they’ve formed relationships with each other!

Please note: I have more than one best friend, but the list is still quite small. I was never a popular girl with a ton of friends and liked by everyone in the classroom. I have always enjoyed deep friendships with two or three other women, and then they’d stay with me for life.

Having grown up in an immigrant household, in which our extended family lived abroad or in faraway states, our friends were our community, our lifeline…our family. I live in Berkeley, California now, on the opposite coast of my blood relatives, and this is especially true for me today. The people that have helped me raise my children, attended my children’s birthday parties and family-style get-togethers have been…my friends. And they’re not just “friends.” They are hermanos and tios and tias as that is the role that they have played.

It isn’t a blood relative that recently taught my seven-year-old daughter how to sew. It was Tia Amy. Two of four of my children’s godparents aren’t blood relatives. My daughter’s godparents are Tio Will and Tia Nancy. And for every single one of my children’s birthdays, without fail, they receive phone calls from my college best friend or Tia Erika.

We go on vacations together, we are madrinas and honorary tias to each other’s children, and every time we get together – no matter how long it’s been – we start from where we left off, as if no time has passed. We are friends with each others’ friends and blood relatives on Facebook. We are one familia.

For me, there is no greater treasure.

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

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