A grandmother can be a vibrant source of care and inspiration. She might warm our milk, teach us that hard work is important, or remind us that our place in the world is just as important as anyone else’s.
When Orlando Ortiz (right) — a native New Yorker from the Bronx — recalled visiting Puerto Rico during a trip after he graduated middle school, one very distinct person shimmered beyond everything else: his Abuelita (Grandmother) “Salu.” When Orlando visited the Mobile Booth, he described his grandmother to his partner, Paul Tantillo.
“[Salu] was more casual. She smoked cigars. When she needed a handkerchief, she’d get the hem of her skirt, bend over and blow on it.” He laughed. “[She] was very contemporary. She always cut her hair.”
And to Orlando, his Abuelita “Salu” provided a concept that he’s carried on throughout his life.
“For this to be a world, there has to be everything in it. It’s like, the universe has everything in it.”
“Why did she say this?”
“Well, I think she knew I was gay. It was her way of saying ‘that’s alright.’ You accept everything just the way it is because it’s all part of the world.”