I'm starting a new year as a senior in exactly 4 days and I can't wait. My last year of high school and it feels like once it's over, a little voice in my head will say, "Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life."
To people who have been there and done that it may not seem so important but I am about to venture into undiscovered territory and the clocks ticking away. That how I feel whenever I reach a milestone in my life, or even a small goal; I relish in it momentarily before feeling the urge to move on to the next. I guess I was meant to work, and work hard, in this life. I’m not a conformist and my life story is anything but traditional. In fact it is one of the most unique stories of anyone I know.
My mother, from El Salvador met my dad in Costa Rica, as a refugee from the civil war conflict in her country. My dad jokes that he met her in a refugee camp, I don't know if this is true.
The both grew up in the simple times, of that already simple country Costa Rica, in which I was born. They reminisce and drink coffee over memories of waking up early summer morning to pick harvest of fresh coffee beans in dense coffee Fields. Though now days the often talk more of bills and work than they do of the "good old days," when guava and lemon trees grew in our back yard.
I don't remember much of Costa Rica; I know both my grandpa and grandma on my dad's side of the family live there, as well as my mother's adoptive mother. My mom's adoptive dad, who was a priest in El Salvador during the civil war, was a prime target for attack as a religious figure. He, along with my uncle who lived with my grandma and died at the Young age of 28 later died; In Costa Rica, leaving my grandma as the only known, immediate family relative still living from my mother's side.
My dad's side of the family is also pretty interesting. His dad, a tough old bird, is nearing 80 and still walks miles everyday to market, in order to buy a loaf of bread and gossip. He was the town healer, owning a pharmacy and often making late night house calls no one else would, charging very cheaply and sometimes nothing at all if his patients were too poor to pay, something which no one else in the medical field ever did. If you're too poor to for your meds, find a place to die.
His kindness and generosity made him a sort of living legend and local celebrity. A few years ago he mailed my dad a newspaper clipping featuring a parade that took place down Main Street, the reason for celebration? My grandpa, the parade commemorated local heroes my grandpa, front and center. Yet he is humble, almost to an annoying degree.
He is getting on in his years, yet is as able as ever, and a story often circulates around the table whenever my family speaks of him; when my dad was small boy he and Friends found an Ouija board in the attic. They asked it when my grandpa would die, and it reportedly said, "150."
We're all still waiting around to see if this premonition will come true, and it seems to be well on it's way too.
My grandma on my dad's side is something like half Japanese. In any case, I know hardly anything about her, nor would I want to. She has never received my mother too warmly and apparently objected my mother and father marrying.
The rest of my fathers’ family lives in Texas. The only one that ever bother's to communicate is my dad's youngest sister, with whom we lived with, for a time in Utah; when we first came to America. The rest are fairly recluse and resent my dad living away from the family. While two of my mother's estranged siblings live in Pennsylvania, and don't bother to write or call either, as we do like wise.
Yet, like my mother has often said on the subject, she would receive them just as warmly as the last time they met. We're there for each other, but otherwise live and let live.
My own family arrived to America, when I was five and my sister two. We took a plane mind you, which is apparently unusual for Hispanics nowadays. We lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for 12 wonderful, memorable, and truly, magnificent years- which I will never forget and will always cherish. Every year counted. We moved around a lot but always settled in beautiful places, meeting great people and making lifelong friends. From quiet little Murray to the dollar movies, barns and nobles and Fairmont park aka teen scene of Sugar House, we attended catechism at Scared Heart Church in Salt Lake City, and sometimes visited Midvale’s St. Teresa, on a whim.
My dad worked for converges and my mom worked for Holy Cross Ministries as a social worker, case worker and “Promotora.” Or promoter. Helping new immigrants, most of them illegal, to become legal and find employment, abused women to find shelters and protection programs as well as a other resources (directing them to programs like a the baby basket. Which gave abused and homeless pregnant women a basket filled with baby care products such a diapers, blankets, food, shoes, and clothing; for free.) She also helped children under the custody of CPS, and kids in the juvenile detention system.
She and my father had bought a new house. My mom called it her dream home. The house its self was a two story cookie cutter house only 4 years old and built in a cookie cutter neighborhood create only 8 years ago. It was perfect.
During this time life began to settle in an almost perfect direction. I was attending a prestigious academy; my sister was studying in grade school still and poised to enter the academy soon. My dad was immersed in his hobbies of photography. Waking up early to dive out to the canyons and take some amazing photographs the likes of which, I daresay would rival some of the best. He managed to make money with this talent taking pictures for wedding, baptisms, and first communions. He was also a secretary for the church, cleaned a laundry mat, and was a bilingual (Spanish/English) teacher for adults at hunter high school all the while working at converges.
Both my parents were very connected to the church. Mainly through my mother, who worked for Holy Cross. My dad became a church secretary this way and they both befriended a total of 4 families each with kids. All 4, including my family, totaling 5; would tailgate somewhere, every weekend we drove out to “the” lake (whichever it would be), and BBQ, while the kids played in the water. The places: Mirror Lake, Bear Lake, and Yuba among others.
A year later we were in Arizona, two people dead and life completely different.