fregando is the act of cleaning, to be more specific it’s scrubbing, scouring etc. it’s the type of cleaning you do on your hands and knees. a bucket of soapy, lemon tinged, vinagre laced water, rubber gloves to your elbows, sweat beading down your forehead and possibly a brillo pad or something equally as abrasive in your hands – this is the image. that is how you fregar. my paternal grandmother taught me this. to limpiar is to clean something gently, like to wipe down a counter or something. when grandma was limpiando you could talk and bullshit around her. when she was fregando, if you weren’t helping, then you were just in her way.

yesterday, yo estaba fregando my crib. it felt good and it’s a focus thing. to surface clean is to clear away things but not deal with them. to fregar is to get into the dirty nasty shit you haven’t dealt with and work it out. use your elbows, muscles, tendons, knuckles to bust through filth, cobwebs, lies and bullshit. it’s like a type of therapy. i think that’s one of the reasons my grandmother siempre era fregando o fue la limpieza, however u wanna say it. but it’s therapy with an immediate result, your shit is clean.

oh grandma, you were with me all day yesterday. i needed you. i wonder what you’d think of me these days. you were always very well put together. hair done. nails did. clothes en la moda, ironed, pressed. ready to look better than every other woman in the room. i never thought i could ever be that fly, that much of a lady. i guess i was kind of right about that. i’m not much of a lady. no wait, to myself, inside, i am a lady. outside who knows what i am. i’m sure people have their opinions. i guess one thing i wondered last night was what my grandmother would think of me wearing masculine clothes. like straight up suits, ties and black sneakers everywhere. funny that when i’m dressed like that i feel the most dapper. i feel the most like her. like when she got herself all done up she must have felt like a million bucks, like Rita Hayworth and sometimes I feel like Frank Sinatra so maybe that’s the link between us. I wonder if she’d be proud to stand next to me or if she’d be embarrassed. Who knows? Who could be embarrassed next to Frankie though?

I’m sure there are people out there who might have an opinion on what my grandma would think of me. I don’t know if I’d believe them. It’s kinda like when other people try to tell you about what God, Jesus or The Virgin Mary would think of you or your life. That’s an immediate go fuck yourself. Those relationships are private, personal and meant to be between the two individuals. My relationship with my grandma was super cool and there were moments where she knew me better than I knew myself. She knew I was gay and gave me an out and I didn’t have the words to tell her but she knew. She was cool and I miss her face. I wonder what it’d be like if she was still here. Maybe she’d go shopping with me to buy some fancy menswear, maybe she’d get dressed up and we could go on a date to the theater. Me and my grandma Amalia looking fierce, man I wish. She was such a strong, grounded, wise woman. No one like her exists in my world. There is no one carrying on her legacy. But every time I put on a tie or do some serious cleaning, I think about her and remember her words, the way she smelled (shalimar all day every day).

One thing I do know is that I finally feel like I’m living right. It has a lot to do with her words. Every morning we had together, we’d make her bed and she’d tell me, “Gabrielle, if you wake up in the morning and hate where you’re going, then you’re doing the wrong thing. But if you wake up in the morning, ready to take on the day, ready for it all and maybe even smiling, then you’re in the right place.”

I have thought about those words for years. I knew I wasn’t living right but kept trying to ignore it. Now things are different. I live those words everyday and am proud of myself and of her for instilling that in me. She gave me the power to one day trust my instincts. She also gave me the power to clean a house like nobody’s business. Thus making me an unstoppable house butch with a dope job.

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