After the epiphany I had in my aunt’s van I located my month-lost backbone and bitch-slapped myself with it. “Put yourself together!” I said to myself. Shame on you for wallowing for an entire month, so selfish, so self indulgent! I pushed away the annoyance I felt at my aunt and uncle for having moved to Miami of all places, how selfish of them! If they had moved to Italy or Spain, England, I don’t know! Anywhere, I wouldn’t be stuck here.
“What would Scarlett do?” I asked myself. Scarlett O’Hara has been my heroine ever since I read the book when I was 12 and realized that she was a Class-A bitch that she got shit done, never broke down and always looked fabulous.
With Scarlett in my mind and a new purpose I laid there in the dark listening to my sweet cousin snore like a tractor and oddly found some comfort in the sound. It reassured me of something I had missed. I wasn’t alone in this. I had my aunt, my uncle and my two cousins both of whom shared their room with me without making me feel like I was in the way, even though I was. Both of whom dressed in the dark to go to school so not to wake me up. Both of whom had gone through the same ordeal as me and at a younger age. Both had gone from living a charmed life of Europe trips and chauffeurs and money, to living in an apartment condo in Kendall, going to public school and working for their money.
Tears of shame burned my overworked eyes. I had a family here that was opening their home to me and with my attitude I was telling them “thanks, but no thanks, the life you live is not good enough for me”. I cried some more and told myself it would be the last time I would cry for coming here (muahahahaa I was such a dumb-ass) and resolutely turned the page. More tears did come, once I decided this was it agony pierced me like a stab wound, while I was grieving and refusing to live in this new reality I was safe from taking the final step away from home. I had been swimming in denial and the water was just perfect. But that fumbling first step toward my new life forever closed the door to the home I had always known. I woke up Sunday refreshed after all the crying.
The next day my chest felt lighter and I cringed at all the stress pimples I saw in the mirror. I went to breakfast for the first time since my arrival and I saw my aunt, uncle and cousins looking at me dubiously as if waiting for the bomb to go off. They probably heard a tick-tock while I approached. “Why is everybody so dressed up?” I asked “We are going to church” My cousin said. I chocked on the coffee and pretended not to be surprised. Church? Really? How odd. My family isn’t the most religious one. As good Spanish-Catholics we only go to church when someone is getting married or doing the first communion and only because we would be embarrassed to show up at the party but not for the ceremony.
“Wanna come?” My other cousin asked. I stared at my coffee searching for the answer. Was I ready to have a one-on-one with J.C? Until a month ago J.C was my man, he was my pal, my homeboy, I told him my petty trial and tribulations and he delivered results. Now…not so much. He had lost credibility with me. The time of reckoning had come. Jesus and I were going to have a serious conversation. Shit was going down. “Sure, I’ll go” I got beaming smiles from all of them. I came downstairs in jeans and they all looked at me funny.
“You have to wear a skirt” My cousin said. “Is it a special day today” I asked confused, my uncle was wearing after all a suit and tie in the 95 degree weather when he’s the Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts kind of guy and my cousin the artist was wearing a skirt when she was back then, bless her, the Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts kind of gal herself. “No, we just have to go like this, they have a dress code. “Oh, ok, I didn’t know mass here was so formal” I said turning around to change. “Oh honey, is not mass” My aunt said. “Then what is it?” “We are not Catholic anymore, we converted” “To what?! I asked suddenly horrified and strangely defensive of a belief I really didn’t follow, go figure! “We are now members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” “The who?! “We are Mormons now” They said beatifically smiling.
Oh… holy shit.