October 24, 2012
The man behind the mask
I live my life behind a mask that was created by life itself. I look around myself and I see light, but upon a reflection I see darkness. My name is Jairo Soto, and my Mexican and Spanish origins are contrasted by my world around me in Dallas, Texas. I have grown up here, so I assume my sensitivities to such observations have dulled. With age, however, these senses at times seem sharper than ever before. I see these lines of cold-hard reality and truth burrowed into the forehead of my mother as she scolds me to be careful of how I present myself in public and how late I stay out at night. My mother, born in Mexico, is the most wonderful, whole-hearted woman I know. She is as solid and complete of a human-being as her English is broken and weak. For this, she is characterized by the outside world as uneducated and mentally deficient, but I know those burrows in her forehead represent years of perseverance, courage, and hard work for the betterment of my family. I know her scolding is a desperate cry for me to help protect everything she has built for us. Trying to come to terms with protecting my mother’s labor of love as I try setting into motion my own path in life brings me to the story I am about to share. It was a cold autumn night, as the wind began to whistle by my ear as the leaves crackled underneath my feet. I was wearing my favorite winter shirt, a black Mexican National Soccer sweater with a hooded top. I love soccer and carry a pride for Mexican soccer, but unfortunately cultural pride was not what the outside world saw when I wore my favorite sweater. My mother had warned me of this fact when I walked downstairs to head out for the night. “Be careful mijo,” my mother said to me as I went to kiss her goodbye. I obliged for a moment in order to bring her calm and peace of mind, although I knew in my heart that I was...