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  • Writer's pictureEdward Gutierrez

My First Crush

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

Dedicated to the loving memory of Moises Rios (1953-2018)

La grafitera del barrio | The neighborhood graffiti girl

She started off as a wannabe. But before Rosario picked up her first marker, can, or scribe, most importantly she had to start with a name. Wouldn't you know that from now on her moniker would be her identity, her persona.


At the age of 14, I picked my name. Before that day I thought the graffiti life was only for boys. My favorite canvas was the bus. You would see my name up... Babs. Like the bunny on the cartoons.

Babs at 14 years old.

The challenge

Being shorter than five feet made me feel weak. Catching spots up high was almost impossible so I was shy about writing. Until one day on the bus to school, I met Boo.

Illustration courtesy of Eduardo Serrano


His backpack wasn’t filled with books - chale - Boo had scribes, sharpies, even glass eaters!

Boo teaching Babs how to use the spray can.

Before I met him I only had one marker. Boo let me use up all his supplies.

Watching him, I learned how to hold the can and move it sideways.

When we were together, Boo always wrote my name up first – and when I’d write, Boo was my crush was my partner in crime.

Enter Latita

Latita was Babs 1st spray can. They're long time friends.

They’re so cute together! People ask me all the time, Latita, do graffers catch feelings? I say we not only catch spots, we also catch feelings.

Just look at Babs. I love her because she’s short, like me. She grew up with less, like me. And she don’t take no funny business from nobody, like me.

Trust me this woman is in it to win it. I’ve seen her sneak on to the bus cus she didn’t have bus fare. Last week her sharpie ran out of ink, so she used her finger to catch a dust spot. Yesterday she traded her lunch at school for some new fat tips.

I think she met Boo at the right time in her life.

I remember that on her Quinceañera, Boo gave her a special gift. It looked like this...

Boos gift.

Colors fade, feelings do to

Babs 10 years later, at 24 years old.

I met Boo 10 years ago. Since he got locked up, I moved on. But sometimes, I still see one of his graffiti spots up.

Mija, remember to stay away from the curb... my girls are so well behaved.

Where do they get it from?

My first grader, she loves to draw. That, I know she got from me.

When other kids ask for toys, crayons are the only thing she asks me for.

Every night, after she finishes her homework, I teach her - little by little - what I know.


Illustrations courtesy of IG: @theartofyessicamarquez

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