“Xalos ’14” by Alex Ramirez

A video collage of my vacation in Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, the town three of my four grandparents used to call home. I visited for thirteen days to attend the quinceañera of my aunt and the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of my great-aunt. The piece of music I used was composed by the Sacramento-based production duo Machine Language. The sample’s humming refrain, at once melancholy and triumphant, married well with the images I captured. I think the paradoxical theme worked because I believe that I am profoundly sad that so much space separates my American family and me from such a large sect of kin. In person, it is outwardly apparent that we are of the same flesh and bone and blood that comprises each one of them. We are them and they are us. The angles on their faces and the arcs of their movements are my own. It has yet to cease to amaze me how rapidly and easily I can develop a bond with another new cousin or aunt or uncle I finally meet for the first time; it must be written in our marrow — in blood. At times, in the hollow of my stomach, I feel I must be sadder about the distance that separates us than actually registers with me. To be away from them is to turn my back on an integral aspect of my own identity. But, still, there is always an air of victory in my returns, as if I have risen from underdog to conqueror of time and space and circumstance. Let this collage serve as a victory lap. I made it for my family — which is to say I made it for myself. It is mine; it is ours. It is a topography of our bodies and faces in light and in colors and in action. We were all together in Jalos, Querétaro, and San Miguel de Allende. This is a document of the time we crushed the distance separating ourselves from each other. The Machine Language instrumental is entitled “Closer,” by the way.

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