Sep 11, 2009


That first year of my new life, as corny as it sounds, was a journey to self-discovery. I found out more about myself in those strenuous 12 months than I had in my whole previous life. I found out I could cook and quite well! I learned it all from watching my mom all my life, because it was a household chore she never gave up even when we had a maid.

I became the designated chef for the family and felt less of a burden with something to do while everybody else was at work and school. I learned that “er” and “est” (as in better and best) can only be used with two syllable words and that applying them to any word longer than that makes you sound like the stupidest person on earth.

I discovered how great my cousins were and how much fun it was to talk to them all night long. And that I could actually laugh and enjoy life with them without feeling I was betraying my past by enjoying my present. I learned to be afraid of the Florida rain after one my cousin’s school mates died after being hit by lightning while walking to school in the rain. I learned (even though I tried not to) all the jingles from the commercials (“You bet your sweet asspercream” was my favorite).

I learned that Miami was owned by its Cuban community and nepotism ran rampant. I learned while driving north when we moved away from it, that driving a few hours away from Miami, feels like traveling to another country and convenience stores called “Donde Pancho” and repair garages with signs that read “reparaciones baratas” completely disappear north of Fort Lauderdale. I learned to read in English and that I was being too ambitious when I chose “Timeline” to be my first book because not even in Spanish I can understand quantum physics. I learned that there’s a chance to spend money each time you so much take a steps out of the house and that “2-4-1” is a gimmick that capitalism has perfected.

I learned how to ride a bicycle by myself. Hopped on a brad new one that my mom got me for that first Christmas here and bent the front tire with all the tree crashing I did. But proudly learned how to do it. I learned that my dad was the sterling example of “out of sight out of mind” and that our only source of income dried up, alimony checks stopped and learned not to be embarrassed about living of my aunt and uncle’s charity (neither one of which was related by blood to my mom).

I learned to my eternal embarrassment that I was a complete and utter snob. When my mom found herself without money she told me it was bad enough to be living rent free but we were not to become a burden to anybody. Having to work turned into a reality that I know I should’ve considered before. I know now that I should’ve started working as soon as I got over my month-long depression. But I didn’t. My life thus far had not prepared me for this. I had not been equipped to think that way; I was hurled into a world where money was the means for our survival instead of something I had no interest in earning and all the interest in spending. I was spoiled rotten and life had finally come to slap me around and teach me a lesson and I was not ready.

When my mom said we were going to start working I wanted to say “ew” or be exasperated. But my mom’s despair was too keen for me to complain about it. I stuck my chin out and fancied myself a heroin to the rescue and tackled the new challenge. Riiiiiiight.

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