If you are reading this, it means you are embarking on this journey and it makes me so happy to share the rest of my story with you.
Don’t you think it’s funny how sometimes we forget things we did last week but we can remember something that happened years ago? That’s exactly how I feel about this chapter of my life and it goes to my very first conscious memory: My first day of kindergarten and a teacher telling me “come on inside Ruben”. Yes Ruben; that was me. The miracle baby had become a hyperactive kid called Ruben Rodriguez Perez.
But what had happened to Cesar Omar?
The first three years of my life passed by quickly, and during all this time, me, my mother, my 7 year old sister and my 10 year old brother had nothing to call our own. We were living at my grandmother’s along with a whole bunch of family members, all of us crashing that one room house where we had to share practically everything. I still can’t believe how we survived in those hygienic conditions, no wonder why I barely get sick now.
Our quarters were surrounded by an abandoned cellar, a dumping ground for old machines, discarded stuff, and an old tree that shaded the tin roof of our humble abode. But that’s what we had and my family didn’t know any better. At least we had something.
My mom had survived thus far by working odd jobs here and there as a waitress, fighting over scraps and never having enough money. Then during one of her long night shifts, she met a guy who apparently made her fall for him with just a twirl of his moustache. It was love at first twirl! But this love story would drastically change the direction of our lives and my grandma Glafira could see the pattern repeating itself.
She did not approve of yet another one of my mother’s disastrous relationships: she had fallen in love too quickly with a new man and she had 3 kids from two different men. How was AR going to handle all this? What if she has another kid? No no no, my grandma said.
Coming home late, forgetting about her kids, drinking and partying, those were the main reasons my mom neglected her family life because she was out with AR. Every time she came home she was fighting with my grandma until one night it got physically violent and in the heat of the moment, my mom decided to snatch us from Glafira’s house. We left to become our own family with a man we knew nothing about, La familia Rodriguez.
Welcome to la vecindad!
AR and my mom had found a one bedroom flat, with the second room serving as part kitchen, part living room and part dining room. That, according to my family, was a big upgrade from our previous life. But as a proud Mexican macho man, it wasn’t looking good for AR that he was living with a woman who had someone else’s kids and so in a moment of passion he decided to adopt me. And this is how I became Ruben Rodriguez originating from AR’s home of Michoacan de Ocampo, a small town 700km north of the Mexican capital. !A huevo! Sounds good for baby Ruben. An upgraded place, a father and more room for myself.
But the fairytale wasn’t going to last, and the first hitch in the story would be the departure of my brother, who after a continuous round of fighting and KO’s got tired of being beat-up by AR and decided to take his clothes and go back to my grandmother’s house. Did he even ask my mother? No. For him, she was the cause of the beatings and therefore she couldn’t be in any way part of their solution. I was already a Rodriguez, a member of the family, but my sister and my brother weren’t and AR wasn’t going to treat them as his own kids. To my brother, this family was done.
So there I was, family minus one in my very first memory, wearing my uniform holding someone’s hand at the door for my first day of kindergarten. Whose hand was it? I don’t remember. Maybe it was destiny’s hand. But what I can assure you is that after this moment, I remember everything very clearly.
This new house and new family will be where most of my childhood memories are going to be made.
Memories of how easily childhood can be taken from you.
How one day you are someone and the next day that person is gone.
Here it comes… my true story, the way I have lived it. And I’m going to tell you everything.