Many of us have felt like outsiders in one way or another. To find your tribe, where you can be the truest, the most authentic version of yourself, is vital. As an immigrant, I understand that feeling of starting over, creating a new version of yourself. When you enter a new community, the place and its inhabitants can make or break that connection. Both protagonists in Shiny Bits are displaced, outsiders. Dorie and Clementine must search for not only their tribe, but perhaps more importantly, their truest selves. In my personal experience, this feeling of connection with Bolivar is because of the authentic character of its landscape, combined with the fact that I never met one person there who was not friendly, welcoming, and generous. Shiny bits in between is my love letter to this place and the people who live there.
Every year Clementine and her father visited Angangueo to honor her mother. On the mountain top, monarch butterflies hung from Oyamel tree branches, thousands of them in pleated layers like discarded quinceañera dresses. During Dia de los Muertos, families gathered and brought picnics and shared stories, memories of their loved ones. She watched them laugh and weep and dance and eat while her father stood silently by her side. Him in his black suit and her in a white dress with ribbons that her niñera, Maria, insisted she wear—the perfect little daughter. Her father's grief was a silent and endless prayer between himself and God, a conversation she was not a part of. So she waited and watched the butterflies and the families, and wondered what it felt like to be loved. (shiny bits in between, danaus).