Maité Iracheta: A Story of Resilience and Change


Amber Dosik, Layout Editor

Inés, the youngest daughter of Maité Iracheta, held numerous copies of posters with images of a small kitten that read “Missing Kitten: Evie.”


The very first poster gets carefully taped upon one of the nearby lampposts. 


Without putting up another poster, Maité Iracheta, Inés, and Sean Mullin approach the crumbled complex, dust leaving a fine gray layer over anything seen through the giant hole in their home. They walk slowly and carefully through the lower floor of the now-destroyed house, passing through Iracheta’s beloved garden which is very damaged. Scavenging for sentiments they left behind, they head in, stepping over debris and broken furniture that is still there a week after the accident. A desk is shoved against a wall, and Mullin strategically crawls under to retrieve the now wrecked notebooks Iracheta had started handwriting a book in.


While these broken elements of the home are present, Evie is nowhere to be found. This tiny kitten was barely a year old and had been missing for a week. Inés carefully steps outside to search for the hopelessly missing kitten… 


According to reporter John Ostapiuk from SILIVE, a Staten Island news outlet: On March 3 2022, a car alleged to be speeding away from a cop “smashed into a house” (Iracheta’s). Almost a year later, Iracheta and her family have still not moved back to their home.


But there is hope for change after all. Iracheta has spent her whole life learning to adapt, forcing change in people’s lives, and helping others. There finally came a time when she was able to utilize her adaptive nature, but in turn, she was the one being helped. Now, people were trying to make a change in her life. 


Iracheta grew up in Mexico City with her parents and her two brothers. She took a gap year between high school and college and moved in with her Aunt Consuelo in San Francisco. When she went to college, she discovered her many diverse interests. She majored in political science and simultaneously loved art and culture such as dance, literature, and language. 


In her twenties, Iracheta was working a government job concerning agriculture. At this time, an opportunity to live in New York arose. “I wasn’t happy when working with the government because I was not able to be an agent of change. And there was a lot of corruption. I thought I was better off going on the path of language, literature, writing, and dance. So I thought, let’s flip a coin, go to New York, and see what happens,” Iracheta said.


Many of Iracheta’s goals in life are related to being an “agent of change.” This, along with her adaptive and spontaneous persona, has become a tool she has long used in her daily life.


It is Iracheta’s first year in New York, the 1990s, in the Meatpacking District. The streets are covered in blood and dead animals, and reek of raw meat. She goes in and out of clubs with a group of her friends. Navigating their way through the streets, they discover the nightclub called “Mother.” 


The music booms loudly and lights flash brightly as Iracheta and her friends dance through the large groups of people. Each person wears unique clothing and dances at a tempo perfectly on beat despite the constant bumping of shoulders and the crowded nature of the club. They arrive at a circle of people surrounding dancers in large colorful wigs, flamboyant makeup, and bright-colored clothing. They were drag queens. 


Iracheta approached one of the performers near the end of the night. His name was John Kelly. “I interviewed him for one of the magazines I was working on in Mexico City. This interaction aligned with my longing to be nomadic and be able to move around,” said Iracheta, “His multi-persona allowed me to question borders. Not only borders on who we are in terms of identity, but also geographically and politically. I always go back to just that moment and my interaction with him.”


As Iracheta questioned the borders of her identity, geographical location, and political beliefs, she discovered how adaptive her personality can be. She describes herself as nomadic, versatile, and sensible.Mullin, her romantic partner and co-worker, describes her to be “a combination of the nineteenth-century and the 21st-century, with a trace of the ’80s, because she’s a time traveler who blends the traditional and the forward thinking.  If she landed anywhere on Earth during most eras, she would adapt and connect.


Now, she is a Spanish and English teacher at Poly Prep Country Day School, combining everything she loves about history, language, literature, and more.  Continuing her need to be an “agent of change,” her job allows her to impact her students, change their lives, and help them when they are struggling with work. 


Her adaptability comes in handy with her teaching. “It’s always the battle. The little sweet, happy battle at the beginning of class, trying to make my students switch to Spanish. Make sure they are talking completely in Spanish once they cross the threshold of the door,” as if the classroom is a new environment in which she thinks, acts, and talks differently.


The stresses in Iracheta’s life that require her to be flexible are small in comparison to the stresses she encountered later with the accident. She expresses how the flash of stress that comes with helping her students is simple. “I can navigate it because I’ve been there before. There are immediate solutions. But I had never experienced anything like this accident in my life…All of a sudden there’s this rupture of levels. It’s this incongruent thing that doesn’t make any sense. It’s absurd. It’s illogical. How can you explain that?” she said. 


According to Henry Grabar, a writer for Slate magazine, “at least 100 American drivers veer their cars into buildings each day, or 36,500 a year, and that’s the low bound…more than 2,500 people are killed.”


It is the day of the accident. Her parents had arrived at her house earlier that day and her daughter Micaela had come home from college to watch Iracheta’s short play be performed that Friday at Jose Olivera’s, Iracheta’s coworker at Poly, theater, Teatro Círculo. The excitement of her parents and her daughter’s arrival kept her up until 1 am. She was letting her parents sleep in her bed, so she slept on the pull-out sofa that hadn’t been slept on in years. When she finally fell asleep, she was sleeping very deeply. 


All of a sudden she jolted up, “I’m sitting on the bed thinking I’m dreaming.” It wasn’t until she noticed how intense her senses were that she realized it wasn’t a dream. First, she tasted thick dust in her mouth, then she heard the rain pounding on the streets, and then she saw it. The large hole in the wall revealed… nothing. “No car, no people, just nothing… it felt like it was in slow motion. That’s probably what happens when you’re trying to make sense of something. There’s a delay. There’s a delay in your brain reading the situation with your senses,” Iracheta said.


For Iracheta, the immediate destruction of the accident was harmful. “I felt like I just entered a very dark place. I was not even able to move my body. M-my legs were not reacting. My daughter Micaela, my oldest daughter, had to guide me to get a sweater on to leave the house,” she explained, fidgeting her hair tie back and forth in her hands. She left the house to get away from the danger of the broken home, talk to the police, and communicate with concerned neighbors. 


In this situation, rather than helping others, Iracheta was finally the one to receive assistance from those around her. She said, “I was in awe at the power of community when it happened because of all the support I received from my colleagues, students, parents, the community at large, and friends in general. That felt amazing. I got help even from people I did not know. Organizations like the Red Cross, for example, just come and help you, no questions asked. They come and say, ‘”we are here for you.’”


But her kind and helpful nature came to light because, in a time when she needed assistance, she still longed to help others. “I hope one day I can do something to participate, collaborate and be an active part of these corporations. I want to give back.”


Now, she has no idea when she is moving back into her home but is currently living in an apartment in Park Slope.


Still, she was able to think a lot and learn from the accident. “I knew that I was able to adapt to situations and to leave without my things. I didn’t know my daughters would be able to do it. They’ve been great and they’ve been adapting very well. But what’s changed for me is that I realized that we as humans are very adaptable. And if I thought that I was grabbing onto material things too much, I have to think twice because they don’t matter. It’s more about who we are,” Iracheta said.


The wind blows creating folds in the recently put-up sign for Evie, Iracheta’s family kitten. After searching for the kitten for maybe five minutes, Inés comes walking back to meet up with Iracheta and Sean. Cradled in her hands is small, dirty, and traumatized Evie, or “Veintiuno” — the name that Iracheta calls the kitten. After weeks of not being able to find Evie, something brought her back. This is parallel to Iracheta’s way of going about life. Resilience and positivity are her go-to’s. When Iracheta faced a problem, she was given the support and the tools to bring herself up and positively strive through any battle, big or small. She is malleable, she can adapt and mold to situations no matter the circumstances.


 “I am what my home is,” Iracheta said.