December 9, 1985

Birthday cakes.
I got two of them sometimes, depending on how good I was.
Sometimes, they’d have two tiers and wafers, candy and sweet creamy frosting that would end up all over my face; a typical Hispanic family joke of frosting on the face.
Pictures were still proofs.
I didn’t think it was funny. I thought it ruined the whole thing. If I was in a particular foul mood, pouty from unmentionable abuse, I’d throw a loud tantrum. Shrieks and cries would fill the full house and uncomfortable glances would circle amongst my family until finally the party was put to rest. I’d sit quietly at the table, smiling almost proud of getting to have the cake all to myself.

February 2, 1986

There were no warnings, just packed luggage and a new coat.
The taxi driver stood outside smoking a cigarette and fumbled with his pockets.
I ate the last piece of watermelon and asked no questions.
My mother was a nervous wreck and seemed to be preparing for a future that others couldn’t anticipate.
My father on the other hand, looked bored and ready.
I knew that we were leaving somewhere, somewhere far away, where things like furniture and T.V. sets weren’t necessary.
A place where all I needed were the clothes I was wearing.
The drive to the airport was a blur.
Matchbox houses frightfully spread on sides of highways and costumed soldiers at random checkpoints.
Looking back, I can see the rush, the rush to leave from point A to point B.
I remember being hungry, starving really. My stomach churned with medicine and crackers, thirsty for juice and a new bed.
Thirsty for a new language, a new bike, new friends.
Nothing sounded as good as leaving though.
I closed my eyes and my father pushed me to the window seat.

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