Sometimes, my mom gets coupons for this restaurant called Don Salsas. It's on 19th and some other street (I am not very good with street names), in the Stater Bros center. We normally go on the weekend, my mother sister and I. But sometimes, when there's not enough time and Emily's piano lessons are too close to when my mom gets off of work, she'll make a quick trip over to Don Salsas. Two number sixteens, carne asada burrito combos are our regular order.
The staff knows us by face. As far as I can see, there are really only two full time workers. The man cook and the lady waitress- who I imagine to be named Juanita, even though I have never met a Juanita in real life and have no real license to be naming Latinas because I am not Latina.
Juanita is a large women, with strong arms that can hold up to three full orders of food. She carries them over her head like a woman in the desert, with an open smile, smiling at the people who are too busy to smile back. She has a sweet accent, always saying thank you and you're welcome, but spews rapid-fire Spanish to her look-alike daughter who works at the register on the weekdays even though she is pregnant. They share bone structures and ponytails, mirror images of each other if mirrors could travel in time.
Two number sixteens, carne asada burrito combos are what we order because my mom likes routines and doesn't see the point in change. Because at this point, change is unnecessary when the tortillas are fresh and the meat is tender and the red sauce is nice and thick and the rice is steamy. I love my mom the most when we eat. I love my mom when she goes out to eat because she cradles her head in laced fingers and puts her elbows on the table and looks like how I imagine her to look when she was my age and younger. If mirrors could travel in time I wouldn't be my mom's mirror image. She was always slimmer than me, more slender than me even now. More fragile. Stronger.
But today was special- my mom and I went to Don Salsas. Because they have this special on the first Monday of every month, a buy one get one free kind of deal. The best kind. And today, I drove us there. Just me and my mom and my permit. And it was in that car, with my mom gripping on the door for dear life and me praying to some god that we wouldn't die and my mom telling me about her heart problems that I realized that roles are always reversed. Because for once, I was the one manning our Asian-mobile. The Sienna LE, the most perfect thing my dad has done as a husband, was under my control. And my mom was in the passenger's seat with blood pressure that rose parallel to the speedometer. How many times has it been the other way around? Uh, almost my whole life. My whole life up to age 16. But someday I will be an adult. And in charge of my own life, with my mom not at the forefront of my thoughts.
I will be the driver.