Every time Magdalena went out to play in the big hills of City Terrace behind her house, her mother would tell her about the different trails she could take in order to reach the top of the hill. It was a whole new different world for Magdalena, every time she walked through the hills of City Terrace. The grass reaching Magdalena’s waist mimics the waves of the ocean moving side-to-side following the rhythm of the wind. It was a world where ladybugs were not different from one another and caterpillars turn into butterflies. The tall threes surrounding her reminded her of the open field and dirty roads of Fresnillo Zacatecas. In that moment 12-year-old Magdalena felt strong, fearless, and free. Her heart was full of joy and happiness. Magdalena was able to feel everything that surrounded her in the most spiritual way. The beauty of nature surrounding her made her feel immortal.
As Magdalena reflects back to her memories when she was younger, when everything seemed so perfect, Magdalena struggled to understand the differences between then and now and why her happiness seems to have watered down throughout the years. Every step Magdalena made through the streets of Boyle Heights created confusion and frustration for not understanding the world she lived in. As Magdalena walked through the streets of Cesar Chavez, First Street, and fourth Street she would see the multiracial diversity in her community. In that moment she smiled, the different colored patterns reminded her when she was 12 years old, walking through the different trails where the flowers would blossom without asking for permission. The life she knew once before, she struggled to understand the life she was living in the present moment. She would constantly ask herself, “Why is there such a need to have it all?” Why do we need to wear what is in fashion in order to be noticed or accepted?” The idea society has created in order to be subjected to happiness has been misguided. The idea of beauty has been imbedded in women’s minds, the need to wear make-up in order to fulfill the standard of beauty. The need to assimilate to the media’s standards of beauty without acknowledging one’s own, in the end, contradicts having the freedom of choice. As she continues to walk down the streets of Boyle Heights she begins to realize the disconnection people have amongst themselves and others. As she reflects into the past when she was 12 years old, Magdalena remembered the beauty and happiness she experienced when she was surrounded by nature’s beauty. How the indication of beauty for Magdalena was like a flower, simple and natural, without assimilating itself to anything. The open landscapes of City Terrace’s full of green grass decorated with different colors fulfilled her standard of beauty. In that moment Magdalena understood her own interpretation of beauty, which helped her understand who she was. As we get older we seem to get lost in translation of what we believe in and what others believe, depriving society from their own free will to make their own decision.
Throughout City Terrace, Magdalena continued hiking, trying to reach the top of the hill. As she continued to walk across the long stream of grass up into the hill, Magdalena started to notice the dandelions tying to reach out into the sun to absorb as much light as possible. Every time Magdalena would try to reach out to grab a dandelion the pedals would escape from her hand. The freedom that dandelions had to move freely without any limitations and embrace the beauty of nature was priceless for Magdalena. At a very young age, Magdalena started to understand the true meaning of life. As we get older things start to change and we start to lose track of what is real and what is not and we are unable to see things clearly in our lives.
Magdalena continued to walk down the street of Boyle Heights looking at the history that remained inside every single sign, mural, and building. Everything that surrounded her made her feel like she was at home. In that moment Magdalena decided to walk towards Mariachi Plaza where there was live music, food, and games. The ground felt unstable when Magdalena all of a sudden saw a police car across the street from Mariachi Plaza. The thoughts of ICE started to wonder in her head, unable to clear her mind of the possibilities of being caught. The idea of being undocumented made her feel scared, ashamed, and unaccepted. She never told anyone about her “illegal” status and her mother always told her to keep herself in the shadows where nobody could find her. The memories started flashing to her head of that one time when she was 12 years old playing in the beautiful hills of City Terrace were the city of East LA seem so perfect. In that moment, Magdalena wished she were a dandelion in order to fly away up into the sky. Magdalena wished she had the power to go back in time, to that one place where Magdalena could feel free and fearless. The tension increased as she got closer and closer to Mariachi Plaza, her hands were getting sweaty and she could feel her feet getting heavier by the minute.
“How long will it take me to get to the top,” Magdalena would ask herself as she continued to hike up the hill. The trail to get to the top of the hill was very bumpy and unstable; it was difficult for Magdalena to keep her balance. Every time she kept moving forward she was farther away from the green grass, flowers, and the trees that gave meaning to her life. The only thing she could see in front of her were big bolded rocks. Rocks that seemed impossible to move or crossover made it difficult for Magdalena to continue her hike. In that moment Magdalena got scared of what would happen if she continued on her hike; would she be able to make it to the top of the hill?
Every single step she made was a step closer towards the Mariachi Plaza. Magdalena was able to hear the music, smell the buñuelos and taste the champurado in her mouth. As Magdalena continued to walk towards the dance floor she felt a warm sensation in the left side of her chest. The dance floor turned into the happiest place on earth as Magdalena closed her eyes and danced in circles trying to absorb everything around her. The fear she felt deep inside vanished, she felt the same, as the ladybugs did, equal among each other. Everyone around her moved the same way as she did, felt the same joy and happiness she felt. She felt like a caterpillar escaping from its cocoon, spreading its wings, and liberating itself and tuning into a beautiful beautify. Her spirit liberated itself from its hidden shadow that did not allow her to express and be herself. In that moment flashbacks and memories stared appearing in her head. At the age of 5, Magdalena had the opportunity to visit Fresnillo Zacatecas Mexico, her hometown, the place she always felt strongly connected to, the place she always dreamed of, the world she missed being part of; she finally found it. The trail that Magdalena was on was the trail that led her to the top of the hill.