It was the year I turned 16, I remember taking a trip to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend in his convertible on the last day of school. The smell of the waves, the ocean breeze, the sand between my toes and the immensity of the ocean have always been my refuge, my medicine on difficult days, my happy place. Something about the way the colors change in the sky as the sun sets and watching the sun rise without fail every morning gives me hope of new beginnings.
My father was a drug addicted alcoholic and my mother a battered housewife. I remember how anxious I got when 4 o'clock came around because I knew my father would walk thru the front door at any minute and only God knew what mood he would be in that day. If maybe that would be the day he finally killed my mother from a beating. My mother never did anything to get away from him, she just took each beating and stayed. At 5 years old I called the police because my father had beaten my mother so severely I thought he was for sure going to kill her. When the police arrived and asked if she wanted to press charges her answer was, "no." I remember something inside me breaking that day. I lost all respect for my mother and hated the feeling of helplessness that invaded me every time he hit her while I watched without being strong enough or big enough to defend her.
I wasn't sure about where I was or why, all I knew was that my life went from cozy, comfortable and loving to cold, confusing and forgotten. At the age of 4 my mother came to the united states. Soon after, my father decided we would join her and that is how our journey began. Everyone spoke about opportunity and wealth; a better future for themselves and their children. The United States of America was where everyone came to get rich and famous. Anyone brave enough to begin the journey and make it was a God in the eyes of everyone who stayed behind. No one ever spoke of the price to pay and sacrifices made for daring to dream of a "better life".