Sufriendo en La Espera de Verte Llegar

Johanna Navarrete, Writer

Consepcion Mendoza was living in Apaxtla de Castrejón in Guerrero, Mexico in 1978 when a military troop was stationed in her town. She’d been walking beside two children she used to babysit when a young soldier caught sight of her. She ignored the rowdy soldiers and continued on her way to drop the children off at their school. From there she went straight to work at the local muebleria

Ernesto Quinto, one of the first teenagers in his division to be appointed sargento segundo, was stationed in Apaxtla, Mexico in November of 1978 when he laid eyes upon a young woman with two children with her. His thoughts were in passing. He wasn’t expecting to stay in the town for very long. He especially wasn’t expecting to find the love of his life. 

My grandparents met when one of my grandfather’s friends introduced Ernesto to Consepcion. My grandpa always saw her walk by the base, hand in hand with the same two children almost every day. They talked, made some conversation, and realized they enjoyed spending time with each other. When my grandpa found out that my grandmother worked nearby and went to school in the evenings, he offered to walk with her to keep her company. She agreed.

When my grandfather mentioned liking a certain band, my grandmother lent him her cassette tapes. It gave them a reason to see each other outside of their usual daily walks. Eventually my grandmother would work up the courage to visit the base and chat with the officers and soldiers my grandpa was friends with. The base grew to love her. She was recognized by most and was allowed to hang around to wait for my grandfather to show up so they could hang out. Everyone called her Conchita, a cute nickname that signified her status as a little sister to them. 

The dirt road to my grandmother’s home was far from well lit, and there was a steep decline at the foot of the home stretch. The scarp was a challenge to feet unaccustomed to the climb. Although my grandfather was a soldier and had to practice all sorts of tiresome drills, he was always out of breath after scaling the hill. The one time he managed to sprint to the very top was the first time he was caught around my grandmother.

Ernesto and Consepcion had just strolled down the hill onto the final bit of road near my grandmother’s home, when my great-grandmother walked outside. She saw Consepcion side-by-side with a man she’d never seen before. Worried and angered by the sight, she picked up stones and pelted them at my grandfather. After saying goodnight to Consepcion, he sprinted up the hill as fast as his legs could carry him.

To this day he doesn’t know how he was able to overcome the climb so quickly.

My great-grandma hated Ernesto with a passion. Ever since their first encounter, she was sure to send my great-aunt with my grandmother to keep Ernesto and Consepcion from ever being alone together. My great-grandmother’s plan was foiled often, however, because my great-aunt would sneak off with a soldier from my grandfather’s troop. Double dates weren’t unheard of, but the two couples almost never hung out together. They always met up at the end of the day, though, to create their cover stories. Teenage rebellion hung heavy in the air.

Around late December the rebellion reached an all-time high. One kind of festival or another rolled in and was the talk of the town for days on end. My grandmother, knowing she’d never get permission to go with my grandfather, snuck out of her home after everyone had turned in for the night. She met my grandfather at the top of the infamous hill by her house. That night Ernesto played all sorts of shooting games to win Consepcion the same stuffed animal. There weren’t any other stuffed animal prizes, and he kept maxing out at the same level.

They smiled fondly after arguing which animal the toy was based on. In the end they decided it didn’t matter. What mattered was the fact that they went out and made wonderful memories.

By late January Ernesto felt he was ready to ask my great-grandfather for my grandmother’s hand in marriage. He sat down with my great-grandfather while my grandmother waited in another room, anxiously worrying about the outcome. The world stood still.

My great-grandfather shook hands with Ernesto and gave him his blessing. My great-grandmother refused to talk to him for a week. Ernesto and Consepcion were engaged and had plans to marry on February 14th. 

Unfortunately, my grandfather and his troops were due to move before then. They had other priorities that the military couldn’t stall over some little marriage. Ernesto tried to convince Consepcion to go with him, but she wasn’t ready to leave her family. She couldn’t. They weren’t even married yet. She watched him leave, but he promised to come back before the day of the wedding.

When my grandfather didn’t show up, the family was torn. Ernesto had turned out to be another rapscallion destined to break the hearts of young girls everywhere he went. Consepcion didn’t want to believe that, but the only other thing left to believe was that Ernesto had died. She knew his division was prone to busting drug operations of local cartel leaders. 

By the end of February, nobody was sure what happened to Ernesto. To everyone’s shock, he strolled right back into town on the 25th and knocked politely on Consepcion’s door. The family screamed and hollered for Consepcion to come to the door as fast as she could. Even my great-grandmother was somewhat relieved to see him return. My grandparents married the day my grandfather came back, and they’ve been together ever since. 

At present, my grandfather is sitting on the couch next to me, his brows furrowed by age. My grandmother is laying her head on his lap. They’re talking avidly about what their children have been up to lately. Although mellowed out by time, they’re still the same young lovebirds from forty years ago, and they’re the only reason I still believe in true love.