A few years after moving to Boston, I read in the papers that Isabella Rossellini was making an appearance at a local department store downtown to promote Lancome. I remember seeing her ads from the fashion magazines my mom used to bring home from her trips abroad while I was a teenager growing up in Manila. I went with a co-worker to the event. Several flash bulbs went off as she smiled in front of journalists and the crowd. She was beautiful! However, I was quite taken aback by the stark difference between the ads as I remembered them and seeing her in person standing a few feet away from me. That was probably the moment I realized that fashion advertisements were just an illusion. Seeing these images at We Can Shoot Too blog triggered the memory.
When I used to live in Boston, our get togethers were simple. We did not earn much as new immigrants working on minimum wage jobs. We shared home cooked meals and felt content with each others company. We played board games, sang broadway and pop tunes, exchanged stories, re-told memories from back home and cracked jokes that made us laugh so hard until our stomachs hurt, our eyes filled with tears. Our treats were regular trips to the nearby movie theatre to catch the latest Hollywood films.
Our first vehicle was a red two door Subaru Justy. My dad took us to the car dealership and could only afford the smallest one. He made all five of us including my mother pile up inside the car to make sure we would fit. The salesman probably thought we were crazy. He told him he would buy the car but only at a set price. He was very firm. We stayed until the dealership was about to close. At that point, the salesman relented.
One summer, we headed downtown with our friends Mariza and Doc Tins to watch the fireworks during a 4th of July weekend. The crowds gathered along the riverbank to listen to the Boston Pops Orchestra at the Esplanade. It was humid that day so we weren't keen on staying outdoors. Instead, my older sister took us to the top floor of the office building where she worked. Large windows filled the room and we had front and center view of the display. We brought with us a portable cassette recorder and tuned in to the radio station that carried a live broadcast of the Pops concert. Around 10:00pm, the Stars and Stripes filled the airwaves followed by the famous 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. The fireworks were spectacular. We watched in awe as every burst grew larger and more colorful. For several minutes, no one spoke except for a few praises here and there. No one knew what the future held for us in America. We were simply happy to be together at that moment.
Tonight, as I watch the annual 4th of July Boston celebration on TV, I am reminded of our humble beginnings.