In my prior blog I mentioned my sister giving birth to a baby girl that was my father's child.
I didn't feel a major shift in my life with the birth of my sister/niece. I also had a younger brother in the home at that time, so another child was my blessing of less attention directed towards me. I was at a point in my life that less was best. I cherished my solitude and would find any place without people to be.
My father had an office that was detached from the main house that I would spend hours hanging out in enjoying the silence. My father liked to gamble so there were many times that he was gone for an entire week, sometimes coming home only to grab fresh clothes. I never knew for sure when he would return, but I had become bolder with leaving the house when he was away. Such as, riding my bike around the neighborhood and staying outside until the streets lights came on. I know that sounds ridiculous to most people, but when you live in a controlled environment, it's huge. My travels were taking me further from my prison, and I was loving my new freedom. I grew up hearing my father refer to my mother and sisters as stupid Mexicans - telling them that they couldn't survive on their own, and that they would never become anything. I needed to prove to myself that I could survive without him. I didn't believe that any of us needed him to function in the world, so I was going to prove it to him and myself.
I traveled frequently to the corner gas station for sodas out of the machine just because the men that worked there were black, and a part of me was longing to see people that looked like me. I had adapted to my environment, but often wondered how my life would have been if we had stayed in the old neighborhood.
I also found a small park that I spent time alone questioning if there was a God while I planned my escape. My questioning God as I stared at the sky had become a ritual for me that I started as a young child and was still questioning as a teen. I was confused and doubtful, but I continued to pray. My plan always consisted of me leaving at 18, but I knew it wouldn't be easy. My father wasn't willing to lose any of us to the outside world. My oldest sister had tried and almost succeeded, but I couldn't do almost, it had to be forever for me. I had no plans on returning once I escaped. My father always threatened to kill us, and I was willing to die for my freedom.
Along with my steps of becoming bolder and taking control of my life, I found friendship. I had friends, but I was always guarded. This friendship was different. I loved hanging out with her, and oddly I felt completely comfortable bringing her to my home. Deborah Garber was my saving grace, my lifeline. I didn't realize that at the time, but I did recognize that my life was better when she was around. We laughed and cried together at TV movies, listened and danced to music, talked and giggled about everything, and took off on our bikes as often as possible. She allowed me to escape from the life I knew, even if it was only in small doses. Those moments gave me hope for something better. I also saw that my father was forced to be on his best behavior when she was over. She helped lessen the pain of our nightmare.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anais Nin
I didn't know until a couple years ago that as young as we both were, she too knew something was terribly wrong in my home. She remembers my father making a comment to one of our friends that made her uncomfortable. She shared with me that when we were children she remembered the look on my father's face, and the way that he spoke to our mutual friend Julie as he told her she was a pretty little girl. It just didn't feel right to her, and I'm sure that it wasn't. I then remembered Julie being the only friend that he was willing to drive home. My mom was always the chauffeur, but he stepped up to the plate when it came to Julie. Why didn't I see it or listen closer...why did I ever invite her over?
Peace, Love, & Hugs!
More to come...