Last Monday, for no particular reason, I decided to make this post. Later, I thought, why not post an old photo every Monday and talk a little bit about my past?
It will just be a snippet of text, I don’t expect to write a long post every time unless I am feeling very inspired (which I guess today I am). For now, I will concentrate on photos of my childhood or (in spite of the title of these posts) family photos from before I was born. Basically, at least for a while, all photos posted will be from before we came to the USA.
I guess I’ll pick this one to begin (or rather, to continue):
This is me and my dad on the day of my first communion. I was very happy to see my dad, for two reasons: my parents had separated a year or so prior, and we missed each other desperately. We saw each other maybe once a month. Because my home life became quite turbulent after he left, I begged the administrators at the Catholic school I attended to let me be a boarder at the school, going home only on weekends (I was 10 when I asked for this.)
I’m putting the rest of this post under a cut because there is mention of (pretend?) attempted suicide in it. Please do not read further if you can’t handle it (it’s a minor passing mention and not the main point of this post, but the rest of the post gets kinda heavy in general, so, be warned.)
Unfortunately for me, this was a terrible decision that plunged me into the first of a series of lifelong depressive episodes, but this first one was one of the worst.
I was relentlessly teased at this school (which also had its own set of issues and mild occasions of abuse). My homesickness and dysfunction were so intense, that at one point I would “play pretend” at hanging myself in the girls’ bathroom, causing quite a stir and frightening the wits out of one of my schoolmates.
I was maybe 11 years old tops, and I don’t think I was serious, I think it was a “prank” but I also recall being unbelievably sad and lonely constantly, missing my mother but knowing that with the happiness of seeing her on the weekends came the dysfunction that was our terrible, hopeless home life. So who knows. I was really not okay and felt there was no escape from my unhappiness at the time.
My communion was a very rare occasion on which I saw my mom and dad together (they remained on friendly terms for my sake). I remember how intense my longing for them to get back together was, but also how perfectly aware I was of the impossibility of it. I harbored zero hopes and made no requests. Even in my happiness that day, however, I know I was sad because it was just that day, just a few hours, and my dad would leave and we’d have to go back to our terrible home for the weekend.
My mom and my dad had a massive age gap. My mom was in her 20s when they met, and I think the difference was over 25 years old. Even so, I’m sure there’s people who’d call that age difference predatory even in fully grown-ass adults nowadays 🙄 just as I’m sure they would throw a massive hissy fit at the fact that my dad was my mom’s boss for a while, when they met. They loved each other deeply, however, and they loved me, too. But sometimes things don’t work out.
The reason I bring up my dad’s age is to point out how old he looks in this photo. Even here he looks like he could have been my grandpa. He was 83 when he passed away. I was in my late 20s at the time, having last seen him a few months after I turned 18, the day we left for the USA. At the time I didn’t imagine that I would never see him again. But I guess he knew.
It took a long time to sort my immigration situation, so when he was dying, going to see him would mean I could not return to the USA and years of sacrifice would be wasted and I would be abandoning my mother. There was not a choice to be made. This situation would happen twice: once with my grandma and again with my dad. Together, these are the most painful sacrifices my mom and I had to make to have a life in the United States.
Anyway, this is getting quite heavy, so let me share a couple more photos of this day. This is right before the ceremony began:
I still remember many of the girls in this picture. Nelly is to my right. She was sometimes teased like I was, but somehow managed to fit in better than I did. Nelly never teased me. She was a sweet little girl.
Behind me is Samanta –I forget her last name. Samanta was a kind, smart, very “proper” little girl with beautiful long hair. She was popular.
Behind Samanta is Carla. And to Samanta’s left, two seats down, is Valeria (the darker haired girl talking to the blond girl to Samanta’s right.) Valeria liked replying to questions in class with a serious “Yeah” in English, which considering we were in a Spanish speaking country, was bizarre. I remember finding it unbelievably obnoxious, which is funny in retrospective.
To my left is Luciana. I admired Luciana; she wasn’t afraid of anything, and was pretty tough. She often teased me, sometimes rather maliciously (most of the girls did, since it’s kinda contagious, especially when the teacher is laughing at you and calling you literal ableist slurs in front of the class, or even imitating your stuttering… I could go on) but I remember her as having a good heart overall. I remember liking her.
To Luciana’s left is Marina Sosa, with whom I shared a name. She was the closest thing to a real friend I had in elementary/middle school and was kinder to me than anyone else, despite losing patience with me at times (who wouldn’t). Which is probably why I took a separate photo with her:
That’s all I’ve got for you today as far as memories go. Hope you enjoyed the post even though it got a bit dark at times. 😅