When I Grow Up
When I was younger around 2nd or 3rd grade, I had big dreams for what I wanted to be when I grew up. In class everyday my classmates and I would all sit on the floor, wherever we wanted but in one area, while the teacher sat on her giant desk chair. White board in hand, we were tasked to answer questions a kid would love to repeatedly answer. Most of the time I could answer all of them easily except for one, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It wasn’t because I had no idea, no. It was because my dreams were simply too bright for my dull classmates. I lied on the question every single time. “Poliss.” Spelt wrong every time because I really didn’t know how to spell it.
At home “poliss” wasn’t my answer. My answer was something along the lines of “pop star that drove around in a van grabbing stray animals, bringing them to my house, until I could take them to an adoption center.” I was so proud and excited of this idea that I would tell my family. My grandma can only speak Spanish, and I as a child barely knew any but was very willing to try and say what I wanted. There I sat on the carpeted floor of her room, while she tried to understand the gibberish of a child. The story would always change, because I was a 8-10 year old who just kinda did her own thing, but the main components were always there. I would tell anyone who I somehow forced to listen to me. My goals were heard again and again and again.
Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash
The Candy by the Bees
Every few years I go visit my dad’s side of the family in Mexico. My sister and I were born in the US, but both my parents were born in Mexico. I hated going there. Nothing was the same as it was in the US. The streets in Mexico were always so small and crowded compared to where I was born. The houses were small and had a different structure. There weren’t any big supermarkets nearby, more street vendors with strays everywhere. I never really ate that much while being there as I was that much of a picky eater.
I started to enjoy going to Mexico the older I got. It was nice being within walking distance for almost anything I needed. Walking everywhere with my family was a peaceful experience. My dad would recognize a lot of the people we’d pass by. It felt like a close-knit town rather than the distant suburban areas I’ve been around my whole life. Everything felt a whole lot more personal in that city where my dad grew up. My grandma never went to the same place in Mexico with us. She either stayed at home with my dog, or visited her own family instead. Whenever she stayed in the US instead, we’d get her souvenirs and candy. There were always plenty of vendors for souvenirs. You could tell the candy was good, because there were always bees surrounding the store. Everything we’ve ever gotten still has a place in her room.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens
Mattress on the Floor
I used to live in a three bedroom house with around 6 people. At first my parents, sister, and I all shared one room together. Parents on the bed while my sister and I had separate mattresses on the floor. My grandma had her own room with room for Jesus. I honestly don’t know who the third room belonged to. First it was some random woman who I don’t think was related to me. The other woman was my “Tia Ana,” I don’t think she was related to me though. I was really close to her. I’d go into her room whenever I wanted to, and just play with her stuff. She really didn’t mind. She sewed often, and had a whole box for it. Of course, that was my main focus of things I would play with. Eventually when I got my first dog, Sweetie, it became her and I who would terrorize my aunt’s things with our present. Eventually she did move out, moved back to Mexico. No one else moved back into the room.
So this was the opportunity for my sister and I to move into it. Because we slept on the floor, we had no bed stands. For a few months both of us slept on a mattress on the floor, in a room without a fan. If I could now I might go back to just sleeping on a mattress on the floor, it was very fun for someone younger than a 3rd grader. During summer we’d have to use a fan for cooling food and leave it on the end of our mattresses. Except we slept on the opposite side of the room, meaning the fan would have to be moving throughout the night. Almost 10 years later I now have my own room. We eventually moved to a 4 bedroom house. For the first few years of living there I still shared with my sister because my dad just needed to have a room with just the family computer. With my own room I was able to decorate however I wanted. No one told me to stay on my side of the room, to turn off the lights, to clean because the ants are back again. My own room.
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay
The Horrible, No Good, Very bad Monster
I went to a school party in 6th grade. My friends thought it would be fun, so I thought why not. Instead of dancing or singing along in the gym that was transformed into a dance floor, we all sat in the courtyard. Saying stupid things while doing stupid things. Laughing so hard to the point of tears building and falling down our face. A time where our phones were the last things on our minds. My friend needs to go to the bathroom, so I joined her. Then I saw it. The big ugly monster staring back at me through the mirror. Wearing a ugly jacket with even uglier jeans. Its hair not staying down in an untimely fashion. The face I would never want to face again. Suddenly, the dance was nowhere as fun as it started.
Image by ImaArtist from Pixabay
Monkey see, monkey do. It’s me. I’m the monkey. I went along smiling and laughing along whatever people said. When everything was easy and blissful, I was told I couldn’t hang out with my friend and others because it was the “Asian Club”. It upset me, but I really didn’t understand. Don’t worry, my friend. You can stay for 5 hours because you are my friend. I didn’t see it as an act of kindness like she had planned.
I wore the same Pikachu jacket everyday. The yellow color slowly fading through and through the months. The girl I sat next to would sometimes have nosebleeds during the summer. She accidentally got a little on my prized jacket, and I showed the people I was close with in that class. You are an honorary Asian now, the boy I was close to said. Everyone else agreed, I did too because that is what monkeys do.
Photo by Olivier Guillard on Unsplash
The Wannabe Zebra
I am covered in stripes. From my thighs to my stomach, chest and arms. Brown, white, and red. I couldn’t wear them proudly or bring about them like badges or medals I’ve won throughout my life. I hate them. The way people look at them. The way I have to hide them when I’m wearing t-shirts. The way I know they will never fade. How I knew the consequences, I knew this could happen, but decided it’s not my current problem. Consequences are permanent, and I yet have learned this. I’m stuck in the jaws of regret and despair that leave more marks. I’ll never be the same little girl that my mom watched grow up. The more I see them, the more despair slowly engulfs the rest of my body and life, limb by limb. It’s the hard shove from blissful childhood to real life. I am like a zebra. Stripes permanent, almost head to toe. The hard truth that I will have to live with. The past forever following me till death do us part.