I have always been fascinated by travel, and maps. I loved the atlas. I had US and world books both. I spent countless hours studying them. Geography was a strength in school, when I went. I was in a dream world much of my childhood because reality wasn’t always so nice to me. I had friends in my neighborhood, like so many kids do. I had to be like seven or eight years old this one day….
I was at the neighbor’s house. There were three girls, but this day only one was there. She was five I think. Her mom was white, and her dad Mexican. He was in and out of their lives for whatever reasons but he obviously was here for this.
The door was kicked in and the apartment was soon filled with cops. It was a drug raid. The four of us were handcuffed, face down in the living room. That’s right, seven year old me and five year old her, along with her parents. There were cops in each corner of the room with handguns drawn in our general direction. There was one cop who stood over Felipe with a shotgun barrel buried into his brainstem. Felipe would shout, “No hablo ingles. No hablo ingles!” To which the cop replied, “Bullshit, Felipe. We fucking know you can speak English!” And he would shove the barrel a little harder. Unreal. I just kept thinking how I couldn’t believe this girl is watching this happen with her dad.
Eventually the situation calmed. They had me in the girls’ bedroom separated to ask me whatever I knew, which really wasn’t anything. They asked about my family. It broke my heart when I couldn’t tell them anything about my own father. They let me go home. It seems like they didn’t find anything other than a kitchen scale, which didn’t make sense to me until I got older. But anyway.
I think it was the same year when I was by myself climbing a tree in my front yard. It was on the terrace, the strip of grass between sidewalk and street. I knew if we didn’t cut that grass or rake those leaves we would get in trouble with the city. I assumed it was my tree. A cop pulled up and stopped. He looked up at me and said, “You need to get down from there. That tree is city property. You need to get down from there right now. If I come by here again and see you up there I’m gonna arrest your parents.”
Are you KIDDING me?!?!?! I was furious. I said nothing, but got down and went inside. Arrest my parents? Dude I have ONE parent, you ignorant fuck. And she was everything to me. How can you make my mom go to jail for MY actions? It made no sense to me.
That was the day I decided I want nothing to do with this country. I wanted to run away many times already in my young life, but this just affirmed it. It gave me an actual reason other than the general feeling I didn’t belong. A rebel with a cause.
I am so smart and had great grades when I wanted to, but then I had Civics class. My teacher said day one if we participate in class and turn in assignments we would pass the class. Indeed. I passed with a D-. I refused to learn about a country I did not want to live in.
I did take opportunity to leave the country. I was gone five months. I learned a lot about myself. I also accepted that I had been so wrong for so long. America wasn’t quite so bad, after all. But, I don’t really want to have my own kids. God forbid they want to climb a tree or something.