Thursday, March 09, 2006 posted by Maharet at 10:05 AM
How My Story Begins
My life started out in a massive field where migrant workers toil their lives away from meager wages. My father was illegal, but my mother wasn’t. Most of my family on my moms side were brought over by my grandfather. I don’t know much about my dad’s side. I don’t know if I should care.
My mother was picking vegetables in the fields. Squatting in the hot sun, her pregnant belly in the way. She’s never forgotten that heat. In fact she blames the heat rash which plagued my young existence on that very heat. Something was wrong that day. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she hadn’t eaten or drunk a thing all day. The stomach cramps were eating away at her belly making her bowels ache and turn. Time to go, but there was nowhere. Not for miles. People didn’t make it a habit in those days to provide appropriate toiletries. Inhuman as it may have been even by those standards.
Sweating and feeling faint my mother looked to see if anyone was around and went right there in the middle of the field. The fear and humiliation eating away at her like a snake coiling itself around her neck. But the cramps didn’t go away. It was just getting worse so she made her way to the bus. My mother defecated all over herself on her way to it. She’d completely lost control of her bowels and was going into shock. She tried to clean herself off with the punch she found on the bus with the help of another migrant friend. Back on the bus and stained with punch and fecal matter was where my father found her. I cant remember what he did when he saw her. Knowing him he’d call her a few names before he realized their predicament. Or maybe he fawned over her and rushed her to the hospital in a frenzy. Whatever the case may have been the Doctor told her she was suffering from dehydration and pre-clampsia. She nearly lost me that day. She nearly lost herself.
It wasn’t too long after that I was born. According to my mother I was nearly born on the freeway, but despite these silly mishaps the birth went well. If you consider 16 hours in labor a good thing of course. April 22, 1974, the day that would eventually be known as Earth Day was to be my special day to the end of mine. I must have been beautiful. I have to believe what everyone says after all. And there are pictures. Sure, loads of pictures of my super cute baby face… Somewhere.
Some people say they can remember when they were born. I say that’s a bunch of bullshit. Though I do remember a few things here and there. Looking down at my white shoes as I sat atop the dining room table next to my bright yellow birthday cake. I remember the feeling of the whipped cream between my fingers after I grabbed for a little shell on the border. But then there was a picture of that moment too. A picture that caught me with whipped cream on my face and hands. Was it a dream then? A dream that took my picture and turned it inot something warm and beautiful? In that dream friends and family buzzed around me. I sat and watched as they all cooed me and talked to me as though I could understand them. Touched and petted me like a doll. I laughed and giggled with joy and excitement. I didn’t know it yet but I knew great things would happen to me. Great things and I can’t wait to share them with you; the wonderful little story that defines who I am.
I don’t remember my mother being pregnant. One day I turned around and she was there. this beautiful and angry tiny baby was in my house and in my mothers arms. I was In awe of it. I loved it and always wanted to hold it and feed it. I laughed at the funny cowlick on it’s head and carefully very gently tried to brush it when mom allowed it. I even scolded it when it cried too loudly. This angry little thing was my baby sister. This is when my memories begin to take shape. When things start to go wrong. It wasn’t her fault of course. We didn’t know it then but we were just the byproduct of angry social dysfunction.
Apparently my father was severely disappointed when I turned out to be a girl. My name was supposed to be Miguel so when I turned out to be a girl my father thought my name should be Mikaela. My mother, thank the Lord, disagreed and so my name is Michelle. He didn’t in the least try to hide it when my mother was pregnant with my sister that he did not want another estupida girl. In fact he probably believed that the blows to my mothers belly he’d inflict upon her would eventually produce a boy, but he was fortunately to be disappointed once again. Not to worry though my father was quite resourceful. He had a plan because by the time my sister was two years old he had another baby on the way from a woman my mother referred to as La Lagartija. From my understanding that’s some sort of vile and loathsome snake like creature. I never quite got my moms definition. Really all it means is a small lizard, but I’ll get into her a little later.
In fact he moved her just down the street from us. The situation could not have been more perfect when he decided to move his mother in with his Lagartija mistress. He even gave her my small television. I’ll never forget that TV. It was my very own black and white television. I watched all my Popeye cartoons on it. I watched it from my beautiful pink and white canopy bed in which I slept in all by myself. I was sleeping in it the very night I heard my mom and dad fighting. I tried to come out but my mom yelled at me to stay in my room and keep my little sister with me. Mom had tears in her eyes.
“Michelle! Encierate en el cuarto. No Salgas de aqui! Cuida tu hermanita. Andale!” she said in a hushed whisper. So I did as she said and locked myself in the room and held my little sister back. I knew what was coming. I had been trained before. I knew exactly what was coming, but this time I didn’t stay back like I always did when they fought. I tried to be good, tried not to breath and watch my little sister, but the screaming was awful and for the first time I snuck out. I had to peek. I had to see my dad. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had seen him.
I quietly opened the door and snuck out with my sister in tow. Stealthily I went down the hall and towards the kitchen. He was so loud. They both were. I could see my father holding a television over his head and threatening to throw it at my mother. It was like a movie. Suddenly everything went in slow motion. I couldn’t see anything but my dad. He screamed out, “Is this what you wanted you stupid bitch? Is this what you wanted! I’m going to break it on your head!!!”
“Do it! Do it you bastard!” she said and just as he started to arch his back to throw it I ran out and screamed, “No daddy, don’t! Please don’t hurt my mommy!! You can have my TV daddy please…”
He turned around with a horrified look on his face and in one fell swoop set the TV down and slid on his knees arms outstretched towards me. He held me, apologized to me, kissed my tears away and promised to bring me a better television very soon; A bigger one. In color even. I could hear my mother sobbing but all I could feel was my thudding heart and this strange feeling of loss, grief that I was altogether too young to know anything about.
Gently, my sister and I were laid to bed and eventually my television carted off to the Lagartija and her unborn spawn from hell. This does get a bit choppy after this. I cant really remember how long it had been since I’d last seen him. He’d been gone