My Not-So Predetermined Destiny:
From the age of three, I noticed my family life was unusual. Of course, growing up in a third world country would typically contain stories of messed up childhoods that brought to pass nothing more than misfits, criminals, crazies, and the poor into adulthood. Rarely will a child leave this scenario and grow up to become a necessary asset to the community. This becomes even scarcer when the child has been denied the opportunity of having both parents or none at all. In my case, it was my father's evanesce that created my belief of having no escape to my predetermined destiny. Although very unlikely, it wasn't impossible. But when you're merely the age of three years old, this appears to be very impossible.
My childhood, as I can recall, wasn't your typical infancy. My mother left Ecuador when I was merely three months old. She had the idea of a better and brighter future for her family and in order to make her dream come true, she left. Thankfully my siblings and I weren't completely abandoned, we had my wonderful grandmother. To me, she has been both father and mother since I can remember. My absent father on the other hand, was nothing more than a grumpy drunk that would come and go as he pleased. Which wouldn't have bothered me as much, had it not been for the cruelty of his words and actions whenever he was around. Therefore leading to my conclusion of it being okay for a child to fear and even despise their father, simply because examples of this surrounded me.
In time however, that fear for my father grew into nothing more than plain hatred. Eventually, the mere sound of his name was enough to cause an irrational fire of anger to burn up inside of me. I first became aware of this the night of my seventh birthday, my family gathered around to sing for me when my father finally decided to show up, and of course was drunk as ever. I remember rolling my eyes as I watched him limp his way across the cement floor to hug me, boy did he reek. Shockingly, he was rather eager that night. He looked at me and said, "Nenita, te traje una sopresa" (Sweetie, I brought you a present). First words that popped in my mind were, "Unless you're telling me you've decided to stop drinking, I doubt I'll be surprised." But still something inside of me felt warm and fuzzy as subconsciously I thought that maybe he was sincere, maybe he was slowly changing, maybe now he would be a father to me. But just like so many other countless times, I was abruptly disappointed.
The memory of that night still haunts me to this day. Not because of his rude entrance, not because of the stench of his clothing, not even because he forgot how old I was turning. That night is memorable because that was the night I was first introduced to my worst enemy, Christina. Apparently, my father had decided that my birthday was the perfect occasion to reveal his so called "secret." I was already aware of my father's women on the side, and I was strangely okay with it. Not because they made me better appreciate my mother in America, or because I never grew attached to any of them. I wasn't affected because I knew that eventually these women would come and go faster than day turned into night. However, all of that didn't matter anymore. Now, it was no longer the women I had to worry about, not that I ever truly did. It was Christina.
Although my father wasn't the greatest of dads in the world, he was still my father. If it hadn't been for the help of this man, I would have never come into this world today. So I did respect him for that. But furthermore, my mother cared for him. Somehow this man made my mother love him, and for that I am eternally grateful. However, there's only so much a child can handle from her elders, especially her mess of a father. On this occasion, I thought I would kill him, literally. He pointed towards the door as it slightly opened to reveal the face of his most recent girlfriend. Again, I rolled my eyes and started to turn around when suddenly in my peripheral vision I caught a glance of yet another person walking in. She wasn't tall enough to be an adult, but wasn't small enough to be a kid either. Little did I know that I was looking right into the soul of whom would become the most impacting person in my life, the pre-teenage demonic child that was, Christina.
To this day the memory of her muddy brown hair, her filthy hazel eyes, and her perfectly tan skin tone burns my soul. That first impression of this so-called "almost a woman" girl was the reasoning behind my internal loathing towards my father. The second I laid eyes on her, I immediately knew what he was trying to say. This creature was his girlfriend's daughter. Therefore, was now in a sense his
daughter? "How dare he?!" I thought, "after years of complaining and despising me for being a woman, he has the nerve to bring this woman's daughter and call her his
own?!" I was no longer filled with an irrational pain, my hurt had transformed into pure rage. Throughout my entire life, my father always preferred my brothers over me because they were male. To him, women were nothing more than child-bearing housewives. Yet, somehow this girlfriend's, who he'd had only been seeing for a week, daughter had taken a special place in his heart, the place that had been reserved especially for me. From that day I knew something had to be done. It was on this day that I made the most important decision of my life, to become something of myself. It was clear that my father's reputation would affect my life, unless I took a stand and changed my future.
Although merely seven years of age, I had gained the knowledge my own siblings didn't receive until their early twenties. I knew that my father deserved my respect for bringing me into this world, however I also knew that I wouldn't let his faults and bad decisions impact my destiny. I gained a greater respect and love for my mother in America and remember begging her to pay for a private tutor so that I may learn the English language. Fortunately enough my mother had just fallen for and married an American man named Jim. So their finances were great enough for me to have my lessons but sadly weren't sufficient enough to bring me to America. I was still content. Although somewhat hesitant about the lessons at first, my siblings eventually attended them with me. Slowly my plan was working; I knew that if I wanted a better life for myself that I needed to escape the evil overfilling Ecuador. As much as I loved my beautifully exotic country, it was not the right place to pursue my new life. America was the key. And if I was to make a living through a career in the US, I had to learn the language. Once I had mastered English all that was left was leaving and getting accepted into school. I knew the process would be long, and I knew it would be rough, but knowing how awful and demeaning my life as a reject in Ecuador would be just pushed me harder.
For years I lost contact with my father, not that we were very close to begin with. However, I still knew of him and what he was up to since he kept in touch with my family, he just refused to have anything to do with me. None of it bothered me, until the momentous day arrived. My mother's newest conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought her acquaintance with an immigration lawyer within her ward. It was through this woman that my mother was able to miraculously receive papers for my siblings and I within a time span of three months, a process she had been working fourteen years to successfully complete. Tears of indescribable joy filled my eyes as I knew that my plan was so close to being fulfilled. My siblings jumped with joy as their biological father signed their papers for them to fly to America, my heart dropped and those tears of joy turned into droplets of agony. "I was so close," I whispered, "there's no way my father will sign my papers. I'm stuck here."
It wasn't easy getting him to sign. That is sober it wasn't. Never had I been so grateful for the invention of alcohol in my entire life. After two shots of tequila and halfway through a six pack of Heineken, my father drew out the most illegible signature I'd ever laid eyes on. Those sloppy scribbles brought tears to my eyes, but this time they were tears of pure delight. I was leaving Ecuador and I was going to America, the land of hope and opportunity. There I would be able to attend high school for free! I could wear any clothes I wanted for there was no uniform, I could eat at the cafeteria, and better yet I would escape this life. I gained many friendships among my peers, but most importantly I graduated with a decent enough GPA and a high enough score on the ACT to make me eligible for college. Having been newly converted into this church I had no doubt that I was destined to attend Brigham Young University-Idaho.
"I look back on my past and smile," my mother stated. "I smile because I look at where I've come from and see just how far I've come." She's completely right. Even after being in the US for quite some time, I still have trouble adapting. I can still remember the pain cause by my father and his betrayal when he chose to become Christine's father, rather than mine. As much as I hate his actions and decisions from the past, it was through my faith and love for this gospel that I discovered the gift of forgiveness. However, not even my faith can cure the pain of my homesickness. Some nights I dream of my beloved Ecuador and of all the beauty within it. I can picture myself by the market, or lying on the warm sand by the beach, and even remember my adventures at school. Ecuador's people may be corrupted but to me the land is diverse and pure. On the other hand, America's land is corrupted and it's the people who are diverse, which adds to the possibilities and blessings of being here. Either way, I do know that now I don't have to worry about growing up to become a misfit, criminal, crazy, or poor asset to the community.