Chapter Five

Back in Arica-Vice I felt a little uneasy at first, but soon I realized that I was okay. I was able to say no to Paste, and I was proud of myself because of that. Being able to say no to a drug that once I was addicted to, it was a big one for me.
Very soon I felt right at home with my family and friends again. I felt very well around everyone with the only exception of one person, and that was my dad Luis. We were very distant and I always tried to avoid him. He was very bipolar. He was the kind of person that could blowout for no reason at all, and sometimes he got so upset that he had to take his rage out on things, smacking the table hard or kicking the chairs. Those kinds of situations were very hard for me to handle, especially in those moments when he got upset and started cursing to the top of his lungs. That's why the best thing for me to do when he was around, was to stay away from him, say amen to whatever point of view he had, don't rock the boat, said hi and bye, and leave as quickly as possible. He had suffered from diabetes since he was twenty-three years old, so all considered, I always treat him with respect, but I kept my distance.
My mom Mercedes was sweet and loving, but you better don't make her mad. Like always she was very happy or very sad, but she never took her anger out on us.
Back in Arica seeing the days go by I started thinking about getting more education, and one of those days, seated at the table with my mom Mercedes, after a humble but delicious lunch, I found the courage to ask my mom if she still had some money left to pay for my education. I didn't know her financial status, and to ask that kind of questions to her was one of those opportunities where she could smack you up the head, and with no warning whatsoever, and then, after the fact, she would say something on the lines, "Don't you be disrespectful with your Mother." And if you didn't want to get smacked again, you better don't say a word after she got upset.
Many times that kind of attitude on her didn't make sense at all to me, but that's whom she was.
While I was gone she had sold the house that she and my dad Luis owned in La Serena. To say a house in La Serena is like saying having a house by the Ocean in California. She and my dad sold the house, split the money, got divorced, and kept living in the same house. I don't know why they did that. I thought that was weird, but none of my business-talking about a dysfunctional family. Well the thing was she had received quite some money, but she decided to make an addition to the house in Arica, and she went over budget, so I was afraid that she had no money left. I didn't know how she was going to react to my question either, but I asked her anyways. For an answer she gave me a lot of words, a word's salad really, but no definitive answer to my question. At the end of this salad of words, she asked me, "What do you want to study?" I said, "I would love to be an engineer" she said, "What do you have to do to become an engineer?" I did answer, "Well the first thing I have to do is to get accepted in one of these Universities." She said, "Let me know when that happens and then we'll talk about it." I knew right there that she was not taking me serious, and that was the end of our conversation. Knowing her as well as I did, she was betting all her money to the possibility that I would never get accepted to any University. I didn't have much hope on her paying for my education, but the only other alternative I had, was asking to my dad Luis, and the chances of him helping me to pay for my education, was pretty much minus zero, and that was being optimistic. I didn't give up my dream of getting a higher education, and I kept going ahead with my dream anyways.
First able I needed to find out if I could get accepted to any major University that had an engineer program, for that, I needed to take the national skill test, and score very high. I didn't have money to pay for a class or a tutor, so I did concentrate all my efforts preparing for the test on my own the best I could. When I took the test a few months later, I found out that I didn't know a lot of stuff that I needed to know, so I wasn't too optimistic about the results. Then when I got the results I was surprised that the score I got was a lot higher than what I thought, but still not good enough to get accepted in any mayor University with an engineering program. That test was a good reality check for me, from that moment on, I started thinking about some career that didn't require so much pre-knowledge, in other words I would've been okay if it wasn't because I was such a rebel brat on high school. Anyhow at the time I realized that what I needed to do was to find a career that I could get accepted and not so expensive, because by then, money as always was a big issue in my reality.
Talking with my mom has been always very difficult because on one side I had the generational gap going on, and on the other side I had spent part of my life with a different family, and those facts made our differences even worse. Our opinions were most of the time the complete opposite, and we had different perspectives and totally different points of views all the time. Over all I have to say that talking with my mom was very intimidating, not for everyday trivial subjects, but when it came to asking her for anything that was sort of a big deal you better be careful. Sometimes she will go ballistic on you and with no warning what so ever. I don't know if I was sometimes awkward or my questions were way off, but if for any reason I started arguing with her, I always kept an eye on her ears. If for any reason her ears started to get red all of the sudden, it was time to run for your life literally!
It took me quite some time to find the courage and the right time, to talk to my mom about higher education again. One day after lunch very carefully, I got to make my point and in a few words that was, "Mom at least can you pay for a short career? I'm thinking about something like Business Administration at a local college, can that be possible? Pretty, please, can you?" And she said yes, she said, "If you promise me to finish your career, and do not quit until you receive your diploma, then I would say yes. At least I have the money to get you started. You did okay in the national skill test, and that shows that you have improved a lot, and I am proud of you."
I was so happy that day. I was totally surprised that she finally was starting to take me in a more serious way. I asked her with not much faith in a positive result, but she was willing to help me to get a higher education. Wasn't an engineering degree, but at least having a technical degree will be a lot better than having nothing at all. At that moment on time I wanted to be able to speak in a better way my own language, and to be able to communicate better. More education was something totally necessary for me now, and I had reached the conclusion that was time for me to stop being such a rebel. By then I was mature enough to appreciate the value of a higher education, and I was very motivated to make the best out of this opportunity I have been given. For what is worth at that time in my life, I was more mature than what I was before, but far from considering myself a man yet, like someone said, "How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?"
For me to be able to go to college was for sure another dream come true. For me that day when my mom Mercedes said, "I will pay for your college education," was a very happy day. I was glad I finished my High School Diploma regardless of how hard it was, because that allowed me to take this other step. I was glad because without my high school diploma, how I could've even thought about going to college. I was grateful of all those who helped me along the way, and I had the feeling that I was in the place I have to be, at the time I needed to be, at the time I wanted it to be. I have finally reached a sense of balance as a person in my life, and I was happy and satisfied with myself, well, sort of.
This moment of my life for sure had all the ingredients to be a great time in my life. After my mom Mercedes gave me the okay to go to college, I got everything ready to start my technical degree on Business Administration. I got registered, paid the tuition, and I started to dream how about how it was going to be this new chapter of my life.
My first day of college was a long awaited moment, that moment it was just like Christmas day when I was a child. I just couldn't wait.
My first day of college I woke up early all by myself, and nobody had to wake me up that morning. The night before I was so excited and afraid that I was not going to be able to wake up on time, that as a precaution I told my mom to wake me up just in case, and I used an alarm clock that uses no electricity. I really didn't want to be late that day.
Looking back at that moment in my life, now I can realize that I was a very young boy, especially in my mind, and talking about me spending a long time in the bathroom hah! That morning everything had to be perfect and it was. Even the bus arrived just on time that day. For me that moment was a very important moment in my life. I even had the jitters, actually, I was almost hyperventilating when my bus arrived to my college, but as I got out the bus and I started walking towards the building, I started to feel just fine and happy to be there on time. I was happy to know that I could count on myself to be on time, and that I was starting to be more responsible. Nobody had to push me out of my bed to go to school this time. The first thing I noticed when I got inside the building was all the good looking girls all over the place. There were good looking girls everywhere, and it looked for me, like one of those big great parties, with the only difference that this time I have been invited to it. I went inside the building and I started looking for my classroom. After a little of asking for some directions I found it, and this time instead of looking for a seat by the window, I got me a seat right in front. This time I was eager to learn.
We were all estrangers that morning, but very soon it all changed. Our homeroom teacher showed up and we started introducing to each other and by the end of the day we were all friends. It was a great first day for show!
The race was on! I was in this race where my ignorance needed to be conquered and defeated.
When the classes started the teachers remind us that this was not high school, so if you wanted to leave you could do it at any time, nobody was going to call your parents or something like that, and if you feel like leaving please do so, but with respect to those who want to learn. If you stayed in the class was because you wanted to learn. I really liked to hear that, just to know that I could leave at any time if I wanted gave me a sense of freedom, and maturity, and for the first time in my life I felt freedom in a place where I go to learn. At that moment I realized that since I moved to Arica I don't know why, but every school I was in, they felt like child prisons to me.
When I got to college those feeling were gone, and I never felt so happy to be in a place where I had to be. That made a big difference for me. This time I was really motivated, and I started studying harder than ever before in my life. For the very first time I was taking my studies very serious, and probably a little bit too serious, but I really liked to see that I started to have very good grades. They were still not as good as I wanted them to be, especially in math, but above average none the less. I was happy with myself. I was so into being in college, that I didn't go to parties, I didn't stay late with my friends, nothing of that. To be honest with you I didn't have any money to waist either, so I was being a total homeboy at the time.
After a few months of going to college, in one of those weekends when I was taking a break, in one of those mornings where you are not expecting anything special to happen. I was in my favorite place in the world, that beach just two blocks away from my house, where I have spend great part of my teen years swimming and playing. Love that place! That beach was the only beach we could go without spending any money at all. There was no fee to get in, and we could stay as long as we want to or as long as our mothers let us stay. On that beach I have many unforgettable moments.
Well, in this beach I was bathing and playing in the water when all of the sudden, I saw two good looking girls waiving at me, at first I was in disbelieve, two good looking girls and they were waiving at me? I even double check, but it was just me and my friend on the beach at that moment. I was being very skeptical because sometimes people play jokes on you. Actually that was one of the pranks we used to play on people bathing sometimes. We would go to the edge of the road, were the sand of the beach meet the road, and we will start waiving at people until they come out the water, we still make them come over, and when they were close to us, we will run to our car-that was waiting for us ready to go-and we just left laughing our butts off calling the people idiots! Now I know who they real idiots were, now I know better, but it was so funny, funny for us that is. I did get out of the water and walk towards them, and as I started to recognized some facial features, I was almost out of my body when I saw Mrs. Ximena, and Mrs. Veronica, I meant Vero and my Ex Xime. What a surprise! I thought I would never see them again, but there they were. I hug them and kiss them in the chick, like is custom on our country or at least it was then, and honestly a lot had happened since then, but we started talking as if it was yesterday the last time we saw each other. I looked at Veronica and she was clearly pregnant, so after a few minutes into our conversation I asked her about it and she said, "There are two reasons why we are here looking for you. The first reason is: I want to invite you to my wedding. I am getting married with Adrian, my boyfriend from La Serena, you met him, remember? Yes I said and she continued, "I didn't know your address, so that's why I couldn't send you an invitation. We came over here to the "Rock Café of the Poor" and asked for "El Satu", and just like you said, they knew right away who we were talking about, and they even showed us where your house was. We knocked the door and the person who opened the door, must've been your mother in parenthesis you can tell she is your mother, you can see the resemblance. She told us that you went to your favorite place, the beach right at the end of the road located right in front of your house. Just like you told us, so here we are, and the second reason is: Adrian would love you to be his best man. You are the only person he knows here in Arica, and you guys get along very well, so he thought of you. What do you say Daniel? Now don't worry about money, we know your situation, and we are not expecting for you to contribute with money to the wedding, like the tradition for the Best Man goes, but he just wants a friend by his side, would you do it? I said, "Sure"
Ximena, now my old flame, was very friendly with me and that was nice. There were no hard feelings there. To see her again it felt weird, she was like a character of one of my fantasies that came true in real life.
That was a very nice time in my life. It was a time where great adventures were always happening. I was going to college, and I was hanging around nice people. I felt at that moment in my life, like I couldn't ask for more, and on top of all that, now I was being asked to be part of a wedding. How fun!
In the mid time before the wedding Ximena and I went out a couple of times. One of my friends let me use his Van for the weekend, so I was able to take Xime and Veronica for a ride on the weekends preceding the wedding. The one who lend me the Van was my friend Martin, an older friend that gave me o lot of work, and with him I used to trade labor for bread. He worked at a bakery and because of him, I was able to take Xime and Veronica out for a ride in a car, and have some money to take them out. Having a car on those times was not a common thing. We went out late at night after the heat of the day is gone, as it is custom on that town. The temperature at night in Arica City is so nice. In Arica is never too cold, and never too hot. Love that! There are many places in that town where you can see the lights reflecting over the ocean at night, many beaches, and many enchanting places. One of my favorite places in that town is the Scorpion Island. Actually is called an Ex-Island because they built a road to it, and on this ex-Island you find the ruins of an old light house. There you could go up and get a magnificent view of the horizon over the ocean. That place is the perfect place to watch a sunset.
Having fun with these girls and studying hard as I was, the wedding date came over very quickly.
The wedding was a very nice wedding, and all together I had a great time. That was the occasion that Veronica and I became Compadres, real Compadres, and from that moment on we call each other Compadres.
One of the things I loved the most about that wedding, was to get to know another family group that in a way resembled and reminded me, the kind of family that my mom Nieves and my Daddy Oscar had. I really liked to be around them. I remember that the wedding was simple, but a very nice one.
At the wedding I met Veronica's whole family, well almost. I met her mom Mrs. Margarita Savala-she was a middle school principal-and her two older sisters, Margarita and Anita-one was a nurse, and the other an architect. I had a great time that night, with only one little exception. Like I had the fame to be a very handy-person, they had a problem with a picture camera that they couldn't open to replace the roll. It was a very old camera, and had inside pretty much all the wedding pictures. They handed it to me and asked me, "Can you fix it?" I said, "I'll give it try" and I don't know how, but I guess I pushed the wrong button, and the camera became open all of the sudden, and the whole roll just fell down. It came out of the camera in that typical spiral way, all the way to the floor. I tried to catch it in the air, but it was too late, all the pictures on that camera were lost because of me. I did apologize sincerely, but I felt terrible, and I felt even worse when somebody said out loud, "That is a bad omen." That happened at the wedding night, and I went down in history like the guy who ruined all the wedding pictures. I was so embarrassed. It was one of those moments of, "Earth please swallowed me whole at this very moment, please!" Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change your destiny. Well I did apologize and Veronica said to me, "Don't worry Compadre. Now by the way, officially we are Compadres." Thanks Comadre I said, and she continued, "Let's have a drink and forget about it. No worries. No apologies please. Cheers."
After the wedding was over Ximena returned to her home town, and Veronica left to La Serena, to live there with Adrian. Adrian still needed one more year to finish his career. So after that quick, great and intense moment was over, my life came back to normal as usual. I kept going to my college and studying hard for a while.
The time went by swiftly and before I knew the end of the school year was near. Right in the middle of the last quarter was the time when everybody started talking about the College Anniversary, and everywhere you go, everybody was talking about it. This event became a great subject to start a conversation, and this time of the year was the perfect time to get to know people that you wanted to meet, but you haven't been introduced or you haven't had the opportunity to take your chances at introducing yourself. At that time every recess became a social event, especially every time you went to the cafeteria.
Soon the Anniversary was upon us, and you might think that I was a party animal but no, actually was quite the opposite. At that time in my life I was a very dedicated student. I have to say that in college I didn't cheat on my test, and even if a few of my classmates did, that was none of my business. For me God was always looking, but I never shared those thoughts with nobody. I loved to meet people say hi to them, have a nice little talk, actually at that time I had a very introverted personality, but I was good at that first introductory part of the conversation, that part right before you get into details. I have never been good at superficial conversations, and I liked to shear with people. I liked the on one on one kind of conversations.
So most likely after the initial part of a get together in a group, after saying hi and how you been that sort of stuff, I would be listening to what they were saying. In a one on one conversation was a different thing though, like I said, I liked to share instead of just talking about vague comments that sound entertaining or funny. I was a good listener for sure. That first year I had no girlfriend. Most of the time on that first year I was studying hard, and I didn't go to parties either. There was no money for dating. Money like always was very tight. That first year my favorite time was when people of my class came to study at my house, which was fun and a constructive thing to do. At that time many of the people at my college had a car, and that was my biggest dream at the time. I dreamed about having some wheels. Actually to have a bullet-bike was my dream at the time. If I would've had the choice to pick between a car and a motorcycle, I would've picked up the motorcycle for sure.
That first college anniversary was unbelievable. For one whole week, day after day, the only thing we did was nothing but fun activities. That was another great experience that went down as one of the greatest times of my life. At the end of that week on a Saturday night, we had a big party, and it was the biggest party I have ever been. The party was at a casino, and pretty much everybody was there. After the dinner and the Crown Ceremony for the new Queen of our college, we all have fun dancing till the wee hours.
By the end of the first year things got a little tougher though, throughout the remodeling of my mom's house, she started to run out of money, and I had to pay the consequences of champagne taste and beer bottle budget. Not a big surprise really, but I had to start walking to my college. In a way it was great because I had time to do one of my favorite things to do in my life, and that was, thinking while walking. I guess the time with my brother in La Serena was a good training for this kind of situations, and as a bonus, on my path to my college, there was a spot in the way home where I got to see the ocean from the beach to the horizon. I always loved the view on that spot of the road.
For my surprise I was not alone, many other kids had to walk back and forth from college just like me. While walking home many times I had great company, and great conversations while walking along with this people.
Sometimes you think that you are the only one going through hard times in life, but in all reality at any giving time there is many in your same situation and worse.
One of those days while being in the middle of one of my classes, I was called to the main office because I've fell behind on my payments. They were very polite, but everybody knew that if you were called to the office, and you have been a good boy, it was because you didn't pay your monthly tuition. I had to go to the accountant's office and give excuses why I was behind in my monthly payments. What a bummer! At that moment I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep going to school or not. It got to the point where I told the counselor that I might have to call the quits, because of financial problems that my family was going through. At a point I thought that everything was lost, but at that moment the accountant said to me, "If financial hardship is your problem you might qualify for a scholarship. If you end the year with good grades, you may qualify for the President of the Republic scholarship. So far you are doing very well on your grades. Let's keep it up, and let's fill an application. Anyhow in the case you get the scholarship will start the benefits from the beginning of next year. In the best case scenario you will still owe this couple of months you're behind, but we could make a payment plan for that." He added, "Keep up your good grades and will work things out for you." I didn't believe him at first, because it sounded too good to be truth, but anyways I filled out the application. I had no other choice.
By then the morale was a bit low, actually very low. I was starting to think that my brother Luis was right, right about the fact that when you are poor is not by chance is because you are put on that situation. My brother Luis said to me that my destiny was being a taxi driver at best, maybe. My brother Luis had lost all hope in humanity, and I knew his reasons were well funded. At the same time, I knew exactly where he was coming from. In my case I still had a bit of faith, especially on the words, "Help yourself, then I will help you" and the words "A man is the master of his own destiny." My brother Luis replayed, "Once you have become poor, you are a slave, and every slave has a Master. The master will rule the slave's destiny. Don't be an ignorant, that's why education these days is so expensive. Remember what the slave master said, "Knowledge in the hands of peasants is a dangerous weapon."" I used to find my brother Luis so radical, but I knew he was no fool, and he got a lot more education than me. In the times he went to school, they used to teach what Democracy was at school, and their motto was "To give education is to build a Nation. Education is the cornerstone of Democracy."
That year I was barely able to finish the college year, and with only a couple payments behind. For me was clear that I had to call the quits next year, because I had no money. My mom's remodeling went way over budget, and she run out money. Overall in my college I had a great year, and I was starting to think that at least I didn't waste that year. I did what I could, and at least I did my part. At least I was not like many that went to college just to have fun.
In Chile summer starts on December 21, and that is right after the end of the school year. That summer even if I did have good grades, I kept studying all through the summer especially on my weakest subject and that was math. That summer I was missing to be back in school, for the first time in a long time longer that I can remember, I couldn't wait to go back to school.
Sooner than what I thought summer was over, and finally was time to go back to school, but I had only one problem, no money. That was such a bummer at the time, like you wouldn't believe it.
I decided to go over there even if I had no money to pay for my tuition. I figure that I would stay in class until they told me to live. The first day of my second year of college was a memorable day. My sister Sylvia was working for a prescription glasses company, and she gave me some color-contacts lenses that were just samples. I save those samples thinking that I could use them especially for that first day. That first day of my second year I got there about 10 minutes late. Everybody was listening to our homeroom teacher, when I quietly opened the door, said excuse me for being late, and I sat on my chair. My chair was the second chair on the first row by the side of the door.
Sometimes when the sunlight hit my eyes makes them look sort of light blue. I have hazel eyes and that day I used pure blue color contacts. As soon as I opened the door the teacher looked at me, and I could tell he looked at me for a bit longer than normal, and as I sat on my chair I noticed my classmate seated on the chair next to me, staring at me like he was stone. He said to me out loud "Dude! Your eyes are blue today, real blue. Don't you have green eyes? Let me see." Then he asked the teacher, "Am I wrong teach? His eyes are blue today." Then the teacher got closer to me to look into my eyes, and then really fast I was surrounded by my classmates looking at my eyes. At that time colored eye contacts were barely coming out in the markets, they wore a rare thing to see.
For a second I had them fooled, but soon they realized that they were contact lenses. They were so surprised that a couple of them, asked me to let them use my contacts. Before I knew it everybody was trying this contact glasses, and looking themselves on the mirror. They were asking to each other how they looked with blue eyes. The teacher after 15 or 20 minutes, he decided that was time to go back to the subject that he was talking about, before he got interrupted by me.
Next day though more than half of the class had an eye infection including me. It was a nice way to kick start the new year though.
Everything on my part was going well, and I was doing just fine drugs wise and emotionally wise as well. Soon after the years started, I was called to the principal's office again, because I was behind in my payments, again. On my way to the principal's office I was thinking, "What I'm going to do now? The truth was, at least I did what I could, I did my part and that's all I can do. When I got to his office we sat down and we started talking about how I was doing in my grades so far, and I was a bit surprise that he didn't mention nothing about the missing payments, and he went to say, " the ceremony it will be on the 20th at 8pm, congratulations! You have been granted the President of the Republic Scholarship. That will cover all your payments till the end of this year. As long as you keep your good grades, you are covered, keep it up, I'll see you soon." I said thank you very much, shook his hand and I went back to my class, happy as hell.
That's how I was able to continue ahead with my education at the time, with a hint of luck and a lot of hard work from my part. My only objection was that the diploma, a very nice one I must add, had the name of an assassin on it Mr. Augusto pint-of-shit as I call him. He was the one who took us from middle-class to poverty, and now taking credit for spared a few crumbs of the table with the poor. How ironic. How many times does a poor person have to swallow his pride in the course of his life? Poverty and ignorance make good slaves.
At that time has been about fifteen years since the U.S. left Augusto Pint-of-Shit in Power, and the people already had it with the lies of the regime. Those in power had oppressed the people who have survive September 11 of 1973 way to hard, so hard that the people were getting brave enough to protest significantly on the streets, and especially in Santiago, the capital of Chile. They were asking, when the recovery and measurements of emergency will return back into democracy. People were asking when all that was going to end. The people were asking when it was going to start trickling down to the people.
Many political parties of the opposition formed a coalition that started a political movement to stop Pint-of-Shit from changing the constitution, and allowed him to be in power for another eight year as president. The political movement called for National Elections just on time, and they wanted to include on the vote to decide if Pint-of-Shit continues as "President of the Republic of Chile"-I put this fact in between quotes marks, because many in Chile have all the reasons to believe that the elections were not considered valid democratic elections, when Pint-of-Shit was elected president. On my books Augusto Pint-of-Shit pretty much named himself president, but was never really elected president.
In the middle of my second year in college I was faced with a very important chapter in the history of Chilean Politics. The coalition against Pint-of-Shit has found the way to put in the ballots the question, "Do you want Augusto Pint-of-Shit to be the president of Chile for another eight years or not?"
Nobody believed that we could have real democratic elections at that time, mainly because the Political Hard Right had control of much of the media, if not all the media, and if any reporter would try to expose the truth, the reporters most likely ended up in jail. Like always though there are some heroes willing to risk their lives in the name of democracy. Those heroes in a peaceful, but bold and determined way, started to expose the truth, and the corruption of the Pint-of-Shit regime. They started to unveil the many illegal executions that took place in the past, and started calling Augusto Pint-of-Shit on the thousands of thousands people that he made disappeared.
The elections became a movement against the usual corrupted establishment, and now the possibility of getting rid of Pint-of-Shit was as real as it gets. The only thing we had to do to finally get rid of Pint-of-shit was vote NO on the elections. Many believed that was not possible to have real democratic elections in Chile, but nonetheless we were about to find out. This election was going to be my first elections ever, the first time I ever had the opportunity to cast my vote.
Before the elections the political situation got very polarized, and it was common to have conversations about it. The common question was, "What are you voting for? Yes or No?" Many times I just responded with the bare truth about what happened to my family on September 11th of 1973, and that was enough to convince many people to believe that September 11 really happened. Do to the control of the media by Pint-of-Shit, they started running propaganda saying that September 11 never happened, just like the Holocaust. Is hard to believe that even today we can find people that are completely convinced that the Holocaust is just a big lie and that never really happened.
Right before the elections about four months before the elections, the situation got very heated and very polarized. For the first time the subject of torture was mentioned in one of the National TV Political Debates, and from there things got really entertaining very quick. Soon after that for the first time the words, "Mass Graves" were mentioned on Live TV. It was scary to think about the possibility of another civil war, more people disappearing, more torture, and more oppression. Just to think about it was very intimidating. Honestly that is the true definition of living in terror. I was scared of somebody taking prisoner one of my love ones, and never see them again, and never even know what really happened to them. It is hard to explain the feeling when you face Fascism, and you know that there is nothing you can do about it. If you don't believe how evil a man can be, is already too late for your salvation.
Afraid I was but I did speak openly, loud and clear. I was convinced that what I was saying was the truth, my truth, you vote your conscious, but know why I am definitely voting for NO. No more Pint-of-Shit, bring back democracy, we are humans! We have Rights!
One of those days I was called to the Principal's office and the career counselor wanted to talk to me. He was the same one that helped me to get my scholarship and he said to me, "It is hard for me to believe that a person that has received the President of the Republic Scholarship is the same person talking bad about our Dear President Pinochet. It is like biting the hand of who is feeding you, Preposterous!" he said.
I didn't care what he thought about me personally, in my mind we were in a country, a democratic country, and nobody was above the Rule of Law, Nobody! Assassins need to be called by their name, and they have to pay for their transgressions, they have broken the Law, and there is a price to pay, nobody is above the constitution.
I care about those being oppressed by the upper class, especially when crimes against humanity have been committed against them, and nobody goes to Jail, and especially when they get acquitted by those in charge of making sure that Justice is served. That is fascism, and if you didn't know the symptoms of fascism is only because they have already washed your brain. Fascism do kill, and with impunity. Once you can call a system a non democratic system, from that moment on, you are no longer a citizen. The word citizen only exists where the people have rights. In a true democracy you don't need a lawyer to have your rights respected. Rights in a true democracy are born with you, and they die with you.
I thought at that time in my life that if Pint-of-Shit was no longer in power, we were going to be free. That is what I believed back then, and even if I died, it would've been for a cause worth my life. Like my father said, "A true democracy is worth to die for." Democracy is the best legacy you can leave to your children. If your children are born in democracy they will be part of a Nation, and a Nation will never turn its back on them. If you are part of a Nation you will never have to be worried about having a roof over your head or a plate of food over your table. That's why you pay your taxes, a Nation will always take care of your children regardless of social status, regardless of their believes, regardless of their sexual preferences or the color of their skin, they will be free. Freedom and Security comes along with being part of a Nation, and those two things are truly priceless.
At that time sixteen years had passed from the formation of "La Junta" (One representative from each mayor part of the Armed Forces of our country. La Junta was formed by the head of the Army, the Navy, the Air force, and Police. They formed the well known around the glove as "La Junta of 1973") Pint-of-Shit was the head of La Junta, and he promised to return the country's democracy in no more than three years. Pint-of-shit said, "At the latest in three years the country will be back in the hands of the civilians, and with a restored democracy, a democracy stronger and more prosperous than ever before in the history of our country." That is what he said, but at the time has been more than fourteen years, he was still in power, and things were worse than ever. For the common people that is, because for the rich was better than ever. La Junta had eliminated every single Workers Union rights, and had eliminated almost every single benefit that the workers had fought so hard to get up to 9/11/73. On top of all that the La Junta had abolished every single benefit granted by collective bargaining. The salaries never been so low for the common people in the history of our country, and the rich though, the rich were richer than ever.
It doesn't happen often in history that the union of the working class ends with a dictator stepping down, but that was the case in Chile, so we thought. People in Chile still is working forty eight hours a week, and every year that pass, more Chileans retire with pensions that the only thing that they can afford is nothing but misery. Like the case of a teacher that worked her whole life educating children, and when she retired as a principal, after all those years, she received what is today less than a hundred dollars a Month. They call it "El Pago de Chile." (The Chilean way of paying back.)
My mom was terrified of me wearing the shirt of No to college, a cheap shirt that had the word NO, in front and back. That was what you had to vote to get rid of Pint-of-Shit. Many said at the time that wearing that T-shirt was a good way to put a target on your chest and on your back. I was one of the first ones to wear that shirt in my college, and my mom told me countless times, "Don't wear that shirt, don't you know this people? They are going to kill you!" I was afraid but I thought at that time that the time for me to make a statement had come, even to the cost of my life if necessary, I was young and I still believed.
After a very tense moment in our history finally the elections were over, and Pint-of-Shit lost the elections. I was happy that finally a criminal was out of power, but he didn't go to Jail, not him or his followers, not for a long time at least, and even when they did it was ridiculous to learn what their punishment was, nothing compared to what they did deserved. Those who took the control of Chile they have become good at making out of a true Democracy a "Showcracy" and still to this day, there is no transparency. Even though Chilean people peacefully got rid of a dictator, they still can't escape oppression, fascism, elitism, and exploitation. The People I'm talking about are those that the elite refer as the wicked, the peasants, and the second class citizens. Who is a second class citizen? Second class citizens are those who need to hire a lawyer to defend their rights. Everybody knows that the poor cannot even afford a lawyer, so they are at the mercy of those in power. Those who are trusted with the administration of justice in anyway, they must be hold to higher standards, and not lower standards. Just like a truck driver. Any driver that commits a traffic violation is fined accordingly to common rules, but truck drivers are subject to a more strict set of rules. We all know that they should know better, just like police officers, they are professionals, they must be uphold to higher standards.
Especially those involved with the administration and implementation of justice, they have to be upheld to a more strict set of rules, because they know better. True justice has never been about who have more money, or had to do with their status in the social ladder, or what organization you belong to. A true democracy in order to be called a democracy has to have justice first. Just like the pledge of allegiance says, don't forget that in a true democracy your King is your constitution, and you swore to defend that constitution even with your life if necessary. The constitution is your King, and any democracy that is a true democracy does have a constitution. You should never settle for nothing less than a true democracy.
A true democracy is a place that you can call it a Nation, and in a nation you have these four things at least.
A plate of food for you and your family. One.
A roof over your head. Two.
Education as a way for progress. Tree
Peace and Security to race a family-the Army's paramount mission. Four.
After the elections were over our college anniversary was upon us, and what a time that was. Pint-of-Shit was out of power, we have had our first democratic elections since the invasion, and by then, I was so optimistic of a better and brighter future, that I decided to be part of the student's body of my college. For me it was a way to give back to my college. I don't know why I felt compelled to do so, but I did. For my surprise in a short meeting we had to elect the president of the student body, I was elected vice-president of the student body. I didn't care about the title, what I really wanted was a way to be part of the organization of our college anniversary. I had such I good time on my first college anniversary, that I wanted to make sure that this one, my second college anniversary, was even better than the last, and it was a blast!
The first day of our anniversary we had a competition about who can inflate the highest amount of balloons with water. The fun part was not the collection and counting of those thousands of balloons. The fun part was what to do with all those water inflated balloons, after the final count was done. I was not expecting to see what I saw, but it took only one balloon to get airborne to start the biggest water balloon fight I have ever seen. I still can remember the balloon flying across the patio, almost like in a slow motion, and as soon as that water balloon landed on the floor, making a few get some water on their clothes, hundreds of balloons in every single direction covered the sky, and we had the funniest water balloon war ever. That was so much fun, and that was just the beginning of one whole week of incredible fun.
I never thought that organize an event like this would take so much work. During that week I slept about three to four hours a day at the most. Honestly I was clueless about so many aspects of the organization of such an event. Including the fact that the person responsible for the payment to the casino for the closing night of our aniversary was the person who signed the contract with the casino, and that person who signed the contract that time it was me. I signed that contract not because I wanted, it was because most of the time the president of the student body was nowhere to be found.
Thankfully everything worked out just fine, and I was able to pay for everything I signed on it. It was another successful anniversary, and I received countless congratulations from many people around the college. I was surprised that many noticed how much effort I had invested on making sure that everything worked just right. The whole college was very involved, they told me after words that most of the time the white collar careers didn't even mixed with the many technical careers like welding, and car repairs, and that many student's body had failed before on trying to connect this two sides. Honestly I wasn't even trying, but for the first time I did ask myself, "Am I a blue collar, or white collar kind of person?" That was for me a shocker. It was hard for me to believe and learn that many people were that snobby or settle in that kind of thinking. For me it was natural to appreciate the value of manual labor, and to see the value of the person that was doing it, regardless. I grew up with a little shop on the patio of my house, and my mom always told me that we are all equals, even though she was very racist herself, but that it is a subject for another conversation.
For me, I just saw people learning how to make a living doing different things, but I never saw, one person above another, maybe I was being naïve, but that is who I was.
As soon as the anniversary was over, I went right back to study really hard. I could not afford more slacking in my studies. The two weeks I dedicated solely to the anniversary organization had taken a toll on my grades, so I went right back to study. I was doing just that, studying and that's it. I didn't have money to spend, so home and college was all I did.
One of those days while studying at home, my friend Alvaro "Ro-pe" came over to visit me and asked me, "What happened to "El Satu" my friend?" (Satu: Short for Saturnine) I said, "Satu is dead!" Then I said in a more serious note "Just studying, I'm just trying to learn all I should've have learn long time ago, when I was still in high school. I should've gone to school instead of going to playing pool or pinball."
I said to my friend Alvaro Quilpatay, "See? That was my stupid rebellion, a rebellion that didn't take me nowhere and I am trying to fix that now. I'm studying everything I should've learned long ago." He said, "I completely understand where you are coming from my friend, but I have to tell you this: Your life can't be just studying. As a friend of you, I came today to invite you to a party, and before you say anything, I want you to listen, and do not interrupt me until I'm done." He said, "I know what you're going to say, you are going to say that parties are to happening, or somebody is going to offer you some Paste, or this or that, but let me tell you this, "Know that nobody is going to put a gun to your head to make you smoke that crap. Now you are a big man now, big enough to say no on your own. Now listen, remember that party where Manuel the German friend of us, the other mad scientist just like you. Remember that party? That party where Manuel left his glasses at home because, "The glasses were cramping his style," and he ask us about the looks of a girl that he was about to make out with, remember? And we all told him, "Oh my! That's a hot girl! Go for it tiger!" and he did make out with the girl, and the next day he wanted us to kill us cuz he saw the girl in broad day light, and with his glasses on, and the girl was ugly as hell, remember?" I said, "Yes I do remember Alvaro, how can I forget." He said, "Well let me finish, that night you kissed a girl that was taller than you while dancing, and then you went outside and started talking to her, and you find out she was not even sixteen years old, remember? You said to her you are too young for me, and you never talked to her ever again, remember?" I said, "Yes I do remember Ivanisa why?" He said, "Well now that girl is going to be eighteen years old, and she is a very good looking girl." I asked, "What about her?" Alvaro replied to me, "Well she is having her 18th birthday party and we are all invited, including you my friend." I said, "No way really? Okay I'm going to listen to you this time, and I am going to the party." Alvaro said, "Alright! That's my friend. Satu is back! Everybody is going to be there this Saturday, and I'm going to pick you up that day, so you don't bailout on me."
My friend Manuel "The German" as we all call him, he was especially upset with me the next day of when that anecdote happened, and he said to me, "Out of all the people I know, I considered you my friend. I don't care much about the rest, but you, you told me she was hot, and I trusted you. You supposed to look out after me like good friends do." And I said to him, "I didn't lie to you, in my books she was totally rape-able (like we used to say when we were teens when a girl was hot.) she looked totally fine to me. You know me Manuel, I don't see people like everybody else does. You know that right?" Manuel said "She does not look ugly to you?" Honestly no, she is not the prettiest, but not ugly by all means." He replayed to me, "You are the one who needs a pair of glasses buddy!"
I will always miss my friend Manuel. By that time in our lives Manuel had returned to Germany and we have not heard anything about him for years. Later in my life, when I was about twenty three years old I learned that he went back to Germany and join the Army. Then he died of an overdose. One overdose of what? I still don't know. I wish I could have the opportunity to see him again. Some people come in and out of our lives, and some of them you wish you had the opportunity to spend more time with them. Manuel used to love heavy metal, and one of his favorite songs was a song from Iron Maiden-the number of the beast. I remember both of us trying to learn how to play that song on the guitar, and listen to it many times over. Good bye my German friend Manuel, I wish one day we see each other again, and play the song for sure 666 The Number of the Beast.
After a hard week of study was over, nothing better than having a party. I was excited that day. I was wondering how tall she was now. The last time I saw her she was taller than me, but she was wearing high hills, anyhow I was excited for sure to meet her again.
While walking to her house with a group of friends I realized that her house was just diagonally across my college. I have walked that route I don't know how many times, and I never spot her before, not even once, and she is hard to miss. All this time we have been pretty much across the street from each other, and we didn't know, how ironic. We went inside her house and there she was, how could I miss her, she was at least a foot taller than any other girl around her. She had her hair up in a tomato style ponytail. That made her looks seems even taller than what she really was, and on top of all that, she was wearing high hills-high hills and a mini skirt, and a long black leather jacket. What a beautiful girl! What a beautiful girl I said to myself while sighing deep and long. That took me by surprise. It was hard to believe that after all this time she could be looking even better than what I remembered. That sigh was completely involuntarily, and as we got closer together I'm really sure that sparks were flying all over the place. Back then, I didn't know myself well enough to recognize what I was experiencing, I wish I knew though. Back then the only thing pretty much inside my head was, "Why am I so poor?" Pathetic you may think, but that was something I couldn't escape, not even if I tried.
We did get formally re-introduced by Juan Carlos a friend in common. Juan Carlos was her cousin, and I didn't know that until that very moment. I have known Juan Carlos for the longest time, but I never knew that Ivanisa was his cousing. Right after that second formal introduction made sense to me. I do remember that was at Juan Carlos's house party when I first met her, and that was the time when Manuel got mad at me. I said hello and I kiss her in the chick like it is custom in my country or at least was back then. However we started dancing and right after the song ended, she took me by the hand to the kitchen and introduced me to her mom. There I met for the first time to Mrs. Siria. She and I started talking for a bit, and she offered me a drink. We talked a bit more and right after I drunk my double capital P-PP: Piscon and Pepsi. Ivanisa and I went back to dancing. We all had a very nice time that night. The party was great. Everybody was dancing, talking and laughing, and by the end of the party, a bit after midnight, while dancing I hug her and gave her a big fat French kiss. That kiss was very spontaneous, and right after that I don't know why, but I left quicker than quick. Right after I kissed her I pretty much run away. Well I just left with the friends that I came with that night. They were living and I didn't want to stay after that. It got really socially awkward for me. I didn't know what to do or what to say after I kissed her. She was the youngest of four brothers-she had three older brothers and they were big. Some of my friends saw me kissing her and started to say that I got scared because one of her brothers was an anti-drugs police officer. I have to admit that I don't know what came into me, right after I got the balls to kiss her right in front of everybody. I guess I fled the scene of the crime quick.
Next morning when I woke up, I did start thinking about the party, and I had a good feeling inside my heart. It all seemed just like a dream, a good dream, but no, was real. I was happy that night at the party, and for sure I had a great time. That next morning I had good feelings about it, until I started to over thinking it. I was happy in one side for being lucky to get to kiss such a beautiful girl, and sad to realize that a poor man can only dream about things like love. Things like falling in love, and offering marriage to a girl. I didn't like to dream out of my limits, because let face it, "What could I offer her for a life?" I was so logical and serious at that time in my life that I couldn't see passed that. I was poor, and poor people can't have a life. You are poor, you go to work 24/7" I was so negative sometimes, but on the other hand I was grounded enough to see my own reality. I was grounded enough to see myself as I was, and truth was, I was still living with my mamma. I used to ask myself what I could offer to a woman right now. For me the answer was plain to see, and the answer was: I had nothing! So I said to myself take it easy man, take it easy, be humble, leave it just like it is, one day maybe you'll be able to afford to have a family. Live this just like it is nothing but a good time at a party and that's it. Don't over think it. Don't try to rationalize every single experience in your life, just keep going with your life, is all okay.
I didn't like to start thinking about it because, the only thing it did was to bring nothing but frustrations to my mind. I have had think about love for a long, long time, and many times over, and the answer was always the same, the truth was I didn't have anything to offer, so realistically nothing is what I should think about. Maybe one day things will be different, maybe one day, but that day was still to come, and if I ever wanted for things to be different, I needed and education. My education was all I should thinking about right now and that's it.
Who would've thought that after all that time the spark was still there. I didn't want a relationship at that moment in my life. I knew if I started a relationship with her, it was going to be too much of a distraction for me. On the other hand I was pushing it a little too hard. I was trying to keep my good grades good enough so I could keep my scholarship. At that moment in my life I couldn't even cover my own expenses, so dating was out of the question. I used to say, if I work hard enough, one day I will be able to afford to have a family. That day I'll find a girl as beautiful as her, and we will leave happily ever after. I was young, lost, and clueless, but I knew that I did like her enough to marry her in the spot. I knew from the bottom of my heart that she was what I wanted, but that was in my mind, and my heart, but not on my pockets. My pockets told a completely different story, my pockets told the cruel story that in all reality I could not even afford to fall in love.
That weekend I remember coming back from being with the usual gang of mine, at the Rock Café of the Poor, and it was king of late, a bit past midnight. I got home, wishing that night that my cat Monochito was still there. Every time I entered that narrow street where my house was, every single time was hard for me not to remember the countless nights my cat Monochito was waiting for me up in the roof, right above the front door. My cat was something very special for me. He was like an icon in my life. He marked the end of my childhood, and the beginning of my teenage years. I was about fifteen when I first got it, and since then we grow up together. I was fifteen-years old, but I was still a kid at heart. After three years together, by the time I went to the army, we both were teenagers, a pair of silly happy teenagers. Then I join in the Army and my life was forever changed, and my cat Monochito was never to be seen again. I was just thinking about that when I enter my street, and even if it was pointless, I looked to his spot anyways, that same spot right above the front door where he used to wait for me every night. I loved the pose he used to take when he waiting for me, he used to take the same pose of the Egyptian Sphinx. He had his tell wrapped around while laying on his stomach, and his paws were folded inwards right under his chest. As soon as I opened the door he used to run across the roof to the kitchen window, and waited there for his part of my dinner. Whatever my mom saved for me, he knew that I'll share it with him.
I got in the house and my mom was sleeping, but I felt so lonely that night, that I gently wake her up, and ask her if she could come over and give me some company. She did complain as she woke up, but she did come to the table and sat with me anyways. My mom has been always a very sensitive person, and that night she really surprised me, I was talking about how good of a time I had with my friends that night, and she interrupted asking me, "So why are you so sad today?" Instead of telling her the truth that I was deeply frustrated about the fact of being so poor, and I was feeling blue about that since I went to Ivanisa's party I answered to her, "I miss my Monochito." Also true, but at that time in my life was very hard for me to express my emotions, and my mom said, "Oh he was so sad when you left to the Army. When you went to the Army he used to wait for you every night, right about the door like always. Poor kitty he loved you so much. Remember that tape you recorded playing the guitar and singing? Sometimes when I was missing you or I was worried about you, I used to play that tape, and listening to you made me feel better. I never worried about you so much ever in my life. I guess I am lucky to get to see you again knowing all what you went through over there. Anyhow every time I played the tape, and the cat was around, he came running to the room looking for you. He started calling you meowing and rubbing itself against the radio just like cats do when they like someone. He really missed you." So I did mom. I have never got attached to any pet like I did with my Monochito. I did raise him pretty much since he was borne. Remember my first cat Muchingo? The father of Monochito, remember? When we got here to Arica from La Serena you let me have my own pet for the first time, and you picked it up for me. To be honest with you, at first, I didn't like that cat at all because I wanted a dog. When you barely got that cat had a very bad eye infection, and he looked so ugly. Well one time while you were cooking I took the cat to the house right in front of ours, to the house that had that little front yard with a picket fence, and that neighbor had a big Saint Bernard dog. Guess what I did to the cat that day mom? I don't know what I was thinking that day, but like I didn't like the cat, I took the cat, and I put it inside the fence while the dog was there. The cat had no place where to go. He couldn't escape, and the dog came over running, and barking ferociously. I thought that was the end of the cat, but the cat stud up on his back two paws, got his claws out, and strike the dog right in the tip of its nose. The dog backed up, and I was in awe. As soon as I came back to my senses I thought Cool! My little cat just beat a big dog! I was thinking, "This is my cat, the coolest cat ever! Did you see that? My little cat just bit this big ass dog, how cool is that!" I was so proud of my cat. I took the cat in my arms, and ran back to the house before the neighbor could come out to see what happened to his dog. Since then Muchingo was my favorite pet ever, until he grew old, and didn't like to play no more. Then Muchingo brought a pussy cat home and Monochito was born. I still remember when he brought home a queen cat, and that molly had a kindle of about eight kitties. I asked you if I could keep one, and you give me the okay to keep one, just one. I didn't know which one to pick, and I had plenty to chose from, so I went over the kindle many times over, and I looked many times at them thinking, "I have to pick the most beautiful one." I grabbed them in my hands one by one, and all of them, the only thing they did was meowing out loud in despair, but one, the ugliest one of them all. All of the kittens had a sort of tiger strikes, and beautiful colors, but one, this one had a solid black color, with a pint of white on the left side of his mouth, and as I looked more carefully, he had a fur commonly known as a bicolor tuxedo. He had mittens, and boots, plus white around his neck ending in a sort of white underwear. I realized about those little details after words, cuz he was the last one that I looked at. What really caught my attention about this kitty was the fact that he was the only one who didn't meow out loud. Every time I took him in my hands he just looked at me with the sweetest look, turned around on its self over the palm of my hand, and went right back to sleep. Even if I had the palm of my hand almost sideways, he would still do the same thing. That little detail allowed me to take him with me, and hold him for a while. I guess that is when we bond for the first time. Even when he was all grown up he still did the same thing, not over the palm of my hand, but he did it over my lap. Sometimes he grabbed my skull carefully with his paws, and started licking my hair, just as if I was another cat. After that he licked his face with its paws, looked at me, turn around in a circle over my lap, and fell asleep, just like he did when he was a little kitty. I miss my kitty mom. My mom said, "That cat loved you very much, you guys slept together, and he grew up by your side." I finished my dinner and we talked for a little while, then I said to her, "Well mom, is getting super late, we better go to sleep. Thanks for your company, and sorry to wake you up. Good night mom." She said good night to me, and like always as she was going back to her room, she sighed saying, "Oh my Lord, give me your patience."
Despite quite liking the girl I didn't pursue a relationship with her. I didn't want anything that could distract me from finishing my career. I guess at that time in my life I was a pessimist, but in my books I was just being realistic. I didn't want to make the mistake of counting on what I didn't have, and spending what I haven't earned yet. I knew many friends of mine that they were already rich and successful inside their minds. They haven't even finished their high school, but they were already living that life style. Many had slogans like, "The more you tell the more tail you get." or stuff like that. I guess you can resume that philosophy as the Con artist law. For them everybody else was stupid, the world is already nothing but a lie not worth to live for, so the only thing that counts is how you get what you want today, without thinking about any consequences of what their actions might bring about tomorrow. All of them considered themselves very smart people, the winners, not the losers. They cheated on everything, their tests, their boyfriend or girlfriend, they were always trying to get whatever they wanted without never thinking on what was right or what was wrong. To think in a responsible way, that was a weakness for them, and they were the strong. Even at that early age, I saw them as people that at the end, they ended up lying to themselves, finding vague arguments just to justify their mistakes, they were never wrong, they were the strong, and only the strong will survive as they often said. What I saw were individuals with no God and no law to go by, empty souls, already lost. For me even if I try I couldn't denied the existence of a superior been. For me was evident that in life there was two roads, the right one, and the wrong one. The right one will bring at the end good things back to you, the wrong one will lead you to nowhere. I don't know why, but comes to my mind Ozzy Osbourne Road to Nowhere. The truth was I didn't have any money on my pockets at that moment on time, so why make plans with it. I used to say to myself, "One day I will, one day, maybe."
For my surprise one of those days while studying Ivanisa knocked the door of my house. I never expected her showing up on my door, but she did. I asked her to come in and I introduced her to my mom. We had tea that afternoon, and we had quite a nice time. It was very refreshing to see her again. After she left that day, I remember my mom saying what a beautiful girl, what a beautiful hair, what a smile and such, but I knew my mom well enough to know that if for any reason I started dating her, suddenly she will turn all those comments right into the opposite as soon as I started dating her. happened to me many times before. It was hard for me to explain that attitude in my mom Mercedes, but that was one of the reasons why I used to argue so much with her.
Ivanisa started visiting me more often, and I learned that they had moved to the neighborhood next to mine. That was a surprise for me, a great surprise I should say, still just friends though, and no kissing no nothing. She invited me to her house a couple of times, and that was a very nice break from my studies. I got to meet her whole family, and her family was a big one. Everybody was very nice to me including her father Mr. Alejandro. Every time we had a talk was always a very nice and fluent conversation. I really liked to talk to him and I guess it was mutual. Everyone on her family was very surprised about the both of us talking that much because as I learned later on, he was not the kind of person that would be nice around "friends" of his only daughter. Over her house I got to meet her three older brothers, and they were very nice with me as well. Ivanisa and I were still friends though.
One of those days Ivanisa come over to my house, and she invited me to go camping. Her parents had planned a short vacation trip, and she asked me if I wanted to go with them. That invitation really caught me off guard, but I accepted the invitation anyways. I couldn't resist her charms, and the shield that I had in my heart to protect me against love, was falling apart little by little. At that moment was nice for me to be around her, and even if we didn't have any physical contact at all, I really enjoyed her company. She was a breeze of fresh air in my monotonous existence.
The day of the trip we met first thing in the morning, had breakfast, gas up, and on we went with the trip. After a four hours drive we arrived to this oasis right in the middle of the Atacama Desert. This arid landscape is home to a little town named Pica-in Quechua means flower in the sand-and here you find this hot springs sanctuary that is the perfect place to get away from the busy and fast life of the city.
This hot spring called "La Cocha" is a place where you can easily imagine a trip through time to the past, but not to a distant past though, there are hotels, restaurants, small markets, and plenty of places for hiking, and exploring. Pica is the perfect place to get lost where time seems to be standing still. Once you get there the peace of the Atacama Desert surrounds you in a mystical way that traps you. In this magical place I got to see for the first time Ivanisa in a swim suit, and that was the end of my shield against love. That day she looked astonishing! I tried not to stare or look stupid, especially in front of her parents, but she blended herself with the beauty of the place to form pure magic, and I was in awe. Her skin had an even cinnamon tone all over her body, she was tall, svelte, black hair, perfect smile, big dark eyes, and long natural eye lashes combined with the sweetest look ever. Right there in that fraction of a second I realized that my shield against love was gone, totally gone, and on top of all that, she looked at me throwing her hair back and taking a model pose asking me, "How do I look?" I just smiled back, and said, "You look fantastic and kept walking, but in my mind I took a picture, and that picture I still carry with me even to this day. We walked to the water, and play in that naturally formed swimming pool for a while. To make things even more unreal we both went inside of one of these two caves, and when we reached the end of it, we make out in the middle of darkness, so we thought. As we got inside the cave got pitch black, and we couldn't even see our own hands in front of us. In this cave about six feet wide, and twenty yards long, you have to walk by touch pretty much, asking the people to excuse you as you go deeper and deeper, but after a few minutes you realize, that the moment of privacy, and the cover that darkness provide you, it's just an illusion, cuz after fifteen minutes or so you can see everything. I was embarrassed, but we were not the only ones making out inside these caves either. You could tell when people barely get inside the cave, that they think just like we did, that nobody can see what you're doing, but is just an illusion part of the magic of the Atacama Desert. That was a lovely moment of my life that I will take to my grave, or until Alzheimer's disease take my consciousness away.
Her dad Mr. Alejandro was one of those people that you can easily call them the light of the party, easy going, funny, smart, sharp, quick with the joke, always smiling, and with a heart of gold. He had white hair and he used to be Santa Claus on Christmas time. I'm really sure that for his family he really was Santa Claus. He reminded me of my Daddy Oscar in a way, not in a physical way, but for sure in a spiritual way. We can say for sure that we "clicked" in a good way, I really like him, and I know he liked me too. There are some things hard to lie bout, not impossible to be a hypocrite about it, but very difficult to hide when you are a genuine person like him.
Mr. Alejandro had rented two rooms-one room for the girls and the other for the boys. They were humble but so inviting and so cozy. In this town there is not such a thing like luxury, but for some reason luxury feels out of place. This hotel was entirely made out of adobes walls, and expose rafters on the ceiling, everything was so in tone with the peaceful atmosphere of the Atacama Desert. I loved it. That night after a delicious dinner we tried a famous dessert that was a pastry made out of guajavas-a delicious fruit typical of the area. We had a nice after dinner conversation, and we went to bed that night after a beautiful and memorable. Very awkward I should say having to sleep in the same room with the father of the girl you are not even boyfriends yet, but that was what happened. Awkward but cool, it felt just like sleeping with one of my older brothers. One thing I wasn't expecting to happen that night, but it did. I am a very deep king of sleeper, and nothing can wake me up at night, but that night Mr. Alejandro woke me up with his snoring more than a couple times that night. Good thing I am a deep sleeper, because I went right back to sleep, and overall I had a very good night sleep all considered. Next morning though having a breakfast at the hotel, and as custom in my country we all were drinking tea when Mrs. Siria asked me, "So, who won the competition?" I was completely lost and I didn't know what to say when she continued, "Yah, that competition that you had going on last night about who snored the loudest hah?" Mr. Alejandro and I point at each other saying at the same time, "He did! He won!" Mr. Alejandro went to say, "Man! I know I snore laud, but this guy woke me up with his snoring like three times last night. He snored louder than me, and that must be a record." No, no, no I said, "Wait a second, you woke me up last night with your snoring, and I have a very deep sleep. For you to wake me up at night, that must be a record!" and we laugh out loud, and had another great time together, that day, and the rest of the weekend.
There is magic floating in the air in the Atacama Desert, and being in the middle of this overwhelming and extreme environment is almost like visiting the death. If you take the cars and the roads out of the picture, you know that if you were there in that place all by yourself, you would be dead in no time. You look around and there is nothing but sand, rocks and hills. The only thing that you might see is the dust dancing in the middle of small desert twister that appear and disappear spontaneously in the middle of this majestic landscape. This desert earns your respect and admiration very quick, and is nice to see these dust devils dancing in the Atacama Desert.
After that trip we started officially dating as girlfriend and boyfriend, and for me was so embarrassing to accept the fact that she will ask me, "Where are we going this Friday night?" and I have to say, "Girl I would love to take some place nice, a club, a restaurant or someplace nice, but I don't have any money, I don't have not even enough money to buy me a couple loose cigarettes." She was happy with just hanging around with me at the beginning, but that lasted for a couple weeks only. She wanted to go out and have fun, and I knew that, but nothing I could do. Soon she came out with the solution, she asked me if I had a driver license, and I did, so she said, "What about if you provide the driving and I provide the car? What do you say?" Sure I said, but I don't have money for the gas or nothing, she said don't worry I'll take care of that. Our first date on her parent's car was great, and I still remember the way she looked. That was the first time I saw her with her "Girl on," and she was wearing a short black dress that had a red band from her collar to the side of her waist, in which she looked so sexy. I picked her that night at her house and just about as we were going out through the front door, she turned her head around really quick, like girls do when they want to see where your eyes were looking at. Good thing my eyes were on peripheral mode, cuz Mrs. Siria and Mr. Alejandro were looking at us from different angles-Mr. Siria was looking from the kitchen, and Mr. Alejandro from his favorite recliner placed in the living room right in front of the TV-lucky me. Sometimes it was so hard not to stare at her, and I felt so lucky to be the one by her side.
That was my life for a little bitty while, just studying during the week and going out with her on Friday of Saturday night, but things got complicated really quick. Definitely was nice to go out with her, and spend time with her. We starting to spend more and more time together, and I got distracted from my studies, but I was still hanging in there. In my college I was about to enter the most difficult part of the career, and that was our specialty. The core of our career could be finances or marketing, and the day I signed the papers choosing my specialty I selected finances. I was proud of myself, haven't been a bed of roses, and I wasn't the Valid Victorian of my college either, but I was there, and the finish line was in sight, just one quarter away.
At that time in my life one of my dreams I had, was to work trading stocks, like you see on TV, when they are trading stocks in Wall Street. That was my dream back then.
Everything in my life was going just fine until one Friday afternoon I was waiting for Ivanisa to show up at my house, and I was excited that day because I wanted to let her know that I have decided to take finances to be the specialty on my career. I was so excited that day that I couldn't imagine anything going wrong, but talking about the world turning on a dime. She was about an hour late that day and when she finally showed up, from the moment I opened the door, I could tell she has been crying and I thought to myself right away, "What now?" she told me almost in tears, "I have something to tell you, I am pregnant." I was not expecting that at all, who does anyhow.
I was faced with a situation far beyond my ability to handle at that moment in my life, and I didn't know what to do at all.
I gave her a hug and I said right away, "Let's go for a walk girl" so we did. We started walking towards the ocean, she was crying and I was trying to digest what just happened. We talked for a while without finding any common ground at all. That day the sky was gray, and we had a gray sunset for a sad day. What really made me sad was the fact that she instead of asking me how I felt about having a child or what I thought about it, the only thing she was talking, worried, and sad about, was making her dad upset, and disappointing him.
After I dropped her off at her house that night, on my way back home, I was thinking about what she has said, and it came to my mind, "Why was she so sad?" I recalled the fact that all what she said to me that day was all related to how mad her dad was going to be, but not at all about what my opinion was or what I thought about it. She was more worried about what her dad was going to say when he found out about her being pregnant. She never said something along the lines I am happy to have your child or something like that. She could've asked me, "Are you happy about this or something along those lines, but no, the only thing she was talking or thinking about, was all related to how her dad it was going to take all this. However she didn't change her point of view in our conversations. I thought at first that she was still in shock, that she needed time to absorb what was going on, but no, she kept talking just like the first time we talked about. It was clear to me that she never said something like I am happy to be having your child, I do love you or something of that sort. Before she got pregnant she was always saying how much she loved me, and now I could not understand why she was so sad about being pregnant. In my part I was running my options, and there it was nothing I could do other than giving her all my support and that is what I did. I would've love to say, "Don't worry my love, we could move to my place, and I have everything covered, don't worry." I wished that was the case, but at that moment in my life I didn't have money not even to pay for a bus ticket, I had to walk to my college. I had not even money to buy me a pair of loose cigarettes at the time. I was overwhelmed with feelings of responsibility, and I was thinking, "How I am going to take care of this baby." Honestly it should be illegal to be that poor. In the middle of that time I said to her, "I might not even have a penny to my name, but somehow we will get through all this. Everything is going to be okay. You are not alone girl, and I will talk to your dad. I will talk to him and we will go from there okay?" We embraced, cried for a bit, both of us, I guess for different reasons, but we agreed that I'll be the one talking with her dad and soon. On my way home after I dropped her off at her house, and I did remember a promise to make to myself when I was seventeen and that was: Not to commit abortion ever again. I have been in this situation once before. When I was seventeen, before I went to the Army I have been with the same girlfriend for a couple of years. We started dating when I was barely sixteen, and she was nineteen years old. I really liked older girls, and like she was petit, she didn't look older than me at all. About six months into our relationship I acted in a very mature way and she and I sat down at a park, and we had a talk about what we were going to do if she got pregnant. She said, "Don't worry I'm using protection. I know we are too young to have any kids, relax." I was very young and I insist that we better have things clear before they happened, and before we continue any further. We agreed that we were going to have sex, but only if we had protection, and if for any reason an accident happened, she was going to get an abortion. We both agreed that we were too young to have kids. That was our agreement and we stuck to it. We tried our best to stick to the plan, but even though, taking all the precautions available at the time, anyways she got pregnant. When that happened it was a really big deal in our lives, and definitely was good that we had talked about what to do in that case before hand. Anyways before we did anything we talked about it and we decided to stick to the plan. Soon after she got pregnant she had an abortion, and everything came back to normal. Being so young was hard to believe how much regrets we had, and we kept blaming at each other, and after that happened things were not the same ever again between us. After about six months, a bit after our second anniversary we broke up for good. After that happened I had a deep sense of having made a big mistake, and I felt guilty. I felt not worthy of being called a human been. That experience did cause me a big sense of regret on my consciousness, and since then I promised to myself never again. I said to myself, "If for any reason I did get another girl pregnant, whatever the circumstances could be, I promise to myself not to have an abortion ever again." I promised to myself to have that baby regardless of the circumstances, and no excuses. Knowing that in my heart, when Ivanisa got pregnant it was like Déjà vu all over again. The first time it happened to me we were both in love, we both for some reason lost the same, but now something was different.
After a few days still she hasn't tell anything about she wanting to have this baby or that she loved me. All what she could talk about was about her father being upset at her, her failure in front of her family, the name of her family, but not even a word about we. That fact really started to get in my nerves. Good thing that the day when I had to talk to Mr. Alejandro came over quick, because I couldn't wait. I thought that Ivanisa was just panicking for no reason, I thought she was over reacting. In my mind I thought, "Mr. Alejandro likes me, I liked him, he was going to be a grandpa again, so what? He had a couple grandsons already, so what was the big deal?" In a way I was not even considering the real possibility of Ivanisa having an abortion. Actually I was thinking how this little-one was going to look like. When I saw my mom Mercedes I even call her, in my mind of course, "Grand ma again! Ha hah!" I knew that she might be upset at the beginning, but hey, in the other hand I was already almost twenty two, and she was almost nineteen, still kids but not really.
The day I had to talk to Mr. Alejandro came over really quick and I remember saying, "May I speak with Mr. Alejandro please?" "One moment please." Everybody was so serious that day. He came out of his room, and sat very relaxed on his recliner. We were in the living room, and he even reclined the sofa all the way back, and I sat in a couch to his left. We were both facing the TV, and I looked at him and we exchanged the usual greetings till we've got to the point of why I wanted to talk to him. At the beginning I mumbled a bit, but I found the courage deep inside of my heart to say "Mr. Alejandro what I want to talk to you is about Ivanisa and I. like you know we've been dating for a little while now, and our relationship is getting better and stronger as the time goes by. We don't want to rush things up, as you know I am still a student, and what I wanted to tell you is that Ivanisa just told me this last Tuesday that she is pregnant. As soon as I learned the news I decided to let you know as soon as I could. Sorry if we disappointed you, but we wanted to let you know what's going on." As I paused for a second, cuz seeing his face transformed made me lose my words, and he stopped me right there interrupting me and saying, "I am very upset about this. I trusted you! I appreciate that at least you have the courage to let me know this in person and face to face, like it should be. At least I'm going to give you that, cuz if it was someone else, I don't know what I would've have done to him. I trusted you! This is a shame for our family, and I am not going to allowed this to happen, not on our family." He smacked the arm rest of the recliner as he stand up, and headed towards Ivanisa's room.

She has been inside her room all this time, and as soon he entered the room he yelled at her, "If you have that child. You will not be my daughter anymore."
Ivanisa cried out loud as Mr. Alejandro left the room finishing his sentence, "This is a shame to the family." And he went back to his room.
I was still seated on the sofa. I was petrified. Out of all the possible scenarios, the way he acted was completely unexpected for me. I never expected that the first thing he was going to say was, "Kill the baby, save the family's name." It is hard to express how hard it was for me to realize, how little I really meant to him, and how little he thought of me. I could never imagine that having a child out of wedlock of me and his daughter could've been such a disgrace for him.
Ivanisa was the only girl out of four brothers, and I don't know what he was expecting from her. I could not understand his reasoning at all, was not like we were part of the Royal Crown or something like that. That is what I thought, but my position or what I thought was completely pointless, because there was nothing I could do about it. Even if I didn't like what I was witnessing, what was I supposed to do?
Seated at that couch made me understand that being poor was facing the truth that you have no will, cuz even to carry on your will cost you money. I wish I could say at that moment, "Sorry Mr. Alejandro, but the decision about if she have my child or not belongs to us. If you don't like it, I am sorry, but I am taking Ivanisa with me until you calm down, and you can think things straight. I think you are over reacting."
I wish, but even if I thought about it, I could not bring any girls to my room. I was living at my mom's house under her rules. I was sharing a room with my older brother. There was no way, nothing I could do, nothing at all, and I just sat there in disbelieve.
After a few long minutes, and after Ivanisa calmed down, she came out of her room, and we went for a walk. It was a beautiful day, but what good is to be in a beautiful place if you are blue and feeling completely miserable. While walking the both of us I was thinking, "I thought once that I was free. I believed that if I'm an honest, and a hard working individual, at least I should get back from society a way to survive, and the opportunity to raise a family. Shouldn't be natural for any human to start a family at anytime they want to?" I thought, "No citizen of a free nation should worry about where is he going to sleep, or having to ask themselves, "Will I be able to feed my children today" Why are we so far behind in progress, why? Why we have to go through the pain of looking to another human been being executed by another human been, just because? Why there is nothing I can do about it?"
When you are blue many times is just being sane, it is part of being a human being. I thought, "Do humans feel when another human fall to injustice? Are humans connected in same way? Do humans, females especially, feel in their hearts about the distress that a child experiences in places at war regardless of how far they are? Can Humans do better?" I was thinking in my mind in a very nonsensical way to the point that I had to stop myself. Many of the thoughts that crossed my mind were true, but it was not the time to think about that. I needed to concentrate and focus on trying to find what was going to be my next step.
We went for a walk in the middle of a beautiful day, but for the both of us there it was nothing but gray all around us. With the weight of the world over our shoulders, feeling like sinners, just like criminals, we went for a walk along the road by the ocean. We talk some more, and the only thing I could hear was, my dad, my dad, my dad to the point that I even question if she really loved me. I thought if she really loved me she should have the baby anyways. At the same time I did understand that her position was not easy either. I had nothing to offer to her, and if she was to defy her dad, she was pretty much on the street homeless. Those were our choices, and they were tuff choices to say the least.
A couple of weeks went by and she told me that her older brothers wanted to meet with us to decide what was going to happen with the unborn baby of us.
That for me was the last nail on the coffin, in my mind I was thinking, "I guess you don't want a kid from me at all." She didn't have much to say about the situation, and I could tell that she was lost as much as I was.
The day before that meeting with her brothers I talked to her, and tried to explain to her that what we were going through it was as serious as it gets. I did beg her to please listen to me, and I said to her, "Ivanisa you know my financial situation very well, and you know that there is not much that I can do about all this, but I want to tell you one more time that I am by your side. I want to tell you that whatever you decide will be my decision too. If you decide to have the baby I am okay with it, and if you decide not to have the baby, that's okay with me too. You need to decide if you want to defy the will of your dad or if you want to try your look running away with me. You know my situation and I have nothing to offer you other than my support, and promise that I will do whatever I can to take care of the three of us. Know one thing from the bottom of my heart and that is: I am by your side, and regardless of your decision, I will be by your side either or."
Once we got to the house of her older brother, we sat down and started talking about the situation and the wife of her oldest brother said to us, "You guys are so young. You have a whole life ahead of you, why having so much responsibility when you don't need too. What do you think about what should be done Daniel?" They asked me, and I responded "I have talked to Ivanisa long and hard about all this, and the truth is I do not want to have any part on the decision of having the baby or not. I am going to tell you exactly what I said to her: I do not have much to offer her, but whatever decision she takes tonight, I'll be by her side regardless. I'll do my best, and that is all I can say." They asked me "So is that your decision?" I said "Yes that is my decision, whatever she says that is my decision." Then they asked Ivanisa what she was going to do, and she didn't know what to say really, I was disappointed about that too. I wish at that moment she had at least something to say instead other than I don't know, and my dad, and my dad. They asked me to live them alone for a moment so they can talk to her with no pressure. I didn't know what they really meant with that, but I left the room, and I went outside. I waited for another long few minutes. I do not know even to this day what really took place on those few minutes that I left the room, but when I come back to the room they let me know that Ivanisa has taken a good decision, and that they will make an appointment for her to see the doctor as soon as possible. They told me that I don't have nothing to be worried about, and that they will take care of everything. Like they put it, "That is the best thing you can do. You guys are way too young to have all that responsibility." I remember being calmed on the outside, but inside I was devastated, I was totally frustrated. There it was nothing I could do, I didn't have anything to offer her, and that fact haunts me even to this day. A child is supposed to be a blessing, a gift from life to you, and I left it at that, because at the same time, I didn't want to have a child of somebody that didn't love me. I wondered after that if she really loved me or if she was too young to really know.
Our relationship continued and for some reason instead of rejection, or blaming each other, a bond was born between us. After that moment on our lives I was thinking, "One day I will make it up to you girl. One day." I felt like it was my fault more than anything, and I blamed my financial situation for all what has happened. I kept studying, I was doing well in my college, and that was all I could do. I just kept going.
That time of my life it was a very strange moment of my life. That time was definitely the time between being a teenager and being an adult. It was a transition time and I really didn't know what was the right thing or the wrong thing to do at all.
Soon after that abortion happened a job was offered to me and I took it. Many told me that work and study don't mix well, but I was so desperate for some cash, that I had to find out on my own. The job I took was a job as a sales assistant for the Christmas season at a newly constructed mall. It was a temporary job at a kitchen supply store that was located in the first mall ever in the city of Arica, and that was one of the coolest places in town at the time.
In the middle of all this my mom Mercedes, I don't know how, but she found out about Ivanisa having an abortion, and she went and asked to talk to Mr. Alejandro in person, and she did. It was quite surprising for me, I thought that she didn't care about me at all, but what she told Mr. Alejandro really proved me wrong about that. She said to him, "My son is a good man, may not be a rich man, but he is a great person, ant that's what's really important in life. You should consider yourself lucky to have my son as your son in law. The only thing he need in life is little push, and he will succeed in life. Shame on you Mr. Alejandro what you did was wrong, and God will punish you for that."
My mom was so pissed, and I was proud that she said her peace loud and clear. After things calmed down my Mom Mercedes and I talked about, and she said to me, "Why don't you finish this relationship with Ivanisa right now? Why don't you? Nothing good can come out of this bad relationship." I said, "Mom in a way I feel like I did break it, and I have to buy it now, but of course is a bit more complicated than that. I think I really love her." My mom could not understand me, but I felt like at least I should be by Ivanisa's side. That conversation with my mom was a good one, because she showed me that she cared about me. That made me feel good, but she didn't change my heart. Actually for some reason I felt like a bond has been born between Ivanisa and I. I never felt so attached to somebody ever before. Even my relationship with her parents instead of worsening actually improved. It was surprising but true. After the abortion was done I started going to her house quite often, and we even started having lunch together every day. Her dad and I started to be friends again like nothing ever happened. I saw myself as part of a new family, my new family, and I thought that was the way it was going to be from now on. I started to think that we should get married, and that I should find the right time and propose her. The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I had not even a penny to my name. At that age in my life I was trying really hard to match what I had in my heart, with what I had in my pockets. I was trying very hard, but wasn't much I could've done about it.
Mr. Alejandro was giving signs as if he was considering me part of the family. That was very surprising for me. He started talking about retirement, and buying a house with a mother in law apartment for Ivanisa and me. I really thought that nothing wrong could happen in my life at that moment in time, everything was going just fine.
Between the both of us we were engaged, and as soon as we got married we were going to move in, into that mother in law apartment that her dad was talking about, at least that was the plan.
In the mid time I was falling behind in my career. Working and studying plus my relationship it was too much for me to handle. I thought I was stronger than that, but no, I wasn't. After I received my first check from my job I decided to keep working and I said, "I will finish my career later"
One of those days I proposed to Ivanisa, and in less than a couple months from the moment she got the abortion we married. That's how fast all these events were happening.
I was not counting on anybody to help me money wise, so the day of our wedding, early in the morning, we went to the city hall, and got married by law in a very simple ceremony. We just invited the two witnesses, and that was it.
In the afternoon we had a party at her house organized by his dad, and it was pretty much a family get together with a blessing from a Catholic priest. That by the way I didn't like it at all. At that moment I don't know if it was me or what, but I didn't want to get married in a religious ceremony. That was my point of view at the time, and why that was is because I didn't believe that I was mature enough to take a woman as my eternal companion. That is how I felt, and that was what I believed then in my heart. Where those thoughts came from? I don't know, but that is what I believed when I was almost twenty two years old.
On top of all that the night of our wedding, like I had no money for the honey moon, we were supposed to spend the night at my mom's house, and that was a bummer in itself for me. I did have no money at all, so I wasn't paying for anything, and I didn't have a say on anything. In many ways I felt like a party crusher on my own wedding, and on top of all that Ivanisa said to me that night, "I just started my period, sorry."
The day of my wedding I was thinking, "What else can go wrong?" That night my friend, the one who started it all, the one who came and invited me to her birthday party, my friend Alvaro, "Ro-pe" he was with me that night at my house, and we went for a little walk. We were even still on suits, and it has been a busy day. I needed to blow out some steam, and something happened. My soul got dark, really dark, I fall in darkness. One thing was for sure, for some reason I didn't want to be by her side that night. I wanted to walk away from her as far away possible. I guess what I should've done on that moment was walk away from that friend. I am not going to blame my friend, but that is how it happened. We went for a walk, and out of nowhere I said to him, "Alvaro I need a puff, of you know what" No! he said, really? I don't know how explain this act in my life, but those who have been addicted to anything, they know what I mean. At that moment I had to have it. I knew that if I started smoking, even just one puff, I knew exactly where it was going to end, but I lied to myself, saying let's buy one gram, and that's it. I said to him, "What do you say best man of mine? One gram only." Okay he said to me and added, "Do not blame me if you ended up smoking more, you should know what you're doing, right? Are you sure?" I am sure I said. Even my friend knew, but there it was nothing we could do. It was already on our minds and he put his hand in his pocket, and took one paper out. He had already one gram on his pocket.
That was a moment that I knew, in advance that I was going to regret. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyways. I spent the night of my wedding out with my friend, smoking Paste.
We smoke that shit all night long. Even after the sun came up we were still at it, and saying to each other, "The last one, this is the last one, right? Yes the last one, and that's it!"
We ended up parked on the side of the road of our street that leads to the ocean. We were still close to home, but in a very good hiding spot. We spent the whole night, no sleep, we were "Duros" completely intoxicated with Paste. We were stiff and walking like Robocop. We were stiff and with a high sense of paranoia. Being like that is one of the many side effects of Cocain-Paste. We were high, the sun it was up, and we were debating how we could get some more or if we should've call the quits. We were in that hiding spot debating if we should try to get some more or go home with the "Angustia" (The sense of experiencing the need for more of that drug. Paste is very addictive. You know you need to quit, but you can't, and you need one more, just one more. That is called anguish.)
We were in the middle of this stupid argument when we saw out of the corner of our eyes, two cops coming towards us very quick and Rope said, "The Cops bro. we are fucked." I jump over my friend, and I started to pretend that we were making out, and then my friend got it. We were not smoking anything; we were just, well, you know. Two gay guys hiding their forbidden love out of the sight of the public eye, parked on an isolated parking spot.
That was what we told the cops, and we acted a little gay too, and they swallowed it. We were out of our bodies when those two cops walked away from us, and left us alone. We almost faint of relief when those two cops got on their Van and left. Have you ever drunk yourself to sobriety?
The parking spot we were at had bushes all around it, and was hard to spot, but these two cops were on us that quick. After the cops left and we were able to put a thought together, finally we went home. I just experienced panic, terror, uncertainty, and a big dose of humility. We said, "Thanks God, for spare us this time. Thank you." We could've been going to jail for having dozens of empty one grams papers. That alone was enough evidence to put us in jail. We went to our homes, in a complete state of Duro. What a dark moment in my life that was.
I went back home, and I crawled in bed with the woman I just married the day before. Now I am Forty eight years old, and if I had Ivanisa close to me, I would say to her, "I am so sorry, sorry for being such a Jerk to you, I am so sorry."
I asked her please not to asked me any questions. I said to her that I didn't do anything wrong, I was back home, and I needed to rest, because I have been up all night. I said to her that I was with my friend Alvaro, and I crawled in bed, and I turned around pretending that I went right to sleep.
I had to pretend for hours that I was deep sleeping. I went through the anguish of wanting to smoke more paste so bad for hours. Addiction sucks bro, it is like... Your heart beats, and beats, and it doesn't understand that you are not running. After awhile, you start feeling that your heart wants to stop, and you want to go to sleep, you cannot stop wanting it, and you are tired, but your heart and the feeling of anguish is stronger than you. It takes a lot just to stop yourself after you smoke that crap.
Thanks God after about four hours I went to sleep that afternoon. Four long hours, but finally fall asleep. I slept from about 2pm that day until lunch time next day. On top of all, they had prepared a homemade chicken noodle soup together for me. I felt so bad. I can say though, that that night I had a big epiphany. I did realize that I was still an addict, and a bad one and the question was, "What I was going to do about it." I promised myself that no matter what, I was not going to be a drug addict. For that to be true, I needed not do it again in a very long time, at least a year. That is what I promised myself that weekend. I needed to learn to say no to Paste, I needed to remember before I put one of those cigarettes in my mouth, to think about the after math, and I needed to remember that in life there is going to be low moments, and in those moments is when I needed to be the strongest, and not let myself down like that no more.
My career in college at the time was out of the question; there it was no way that I could catch up, and finish my career on time. Now I was married, and the only thing I had in mind was, not to mess it up. I had a very rough start, and I did want to leave it as that, a fall, a hard fall at the beginning, and that's it.
Her family didn't know what happened that night, so we were fine. After that we even started living at her house. Right after we got married, they gave us a room at her house, and we started living with her parents. That was nice! Because even if it was hard for me, she couldn't be in a better place, and that was all I wish for at the time.
I even found a better job. I applied for a sales job position that they call it Credit Executive Agent, and I got hired. The job was at a credit union where your job was, to find people that wanted to borrow money. That was my first job in the financial system, and I was so proud of myself. I thought my life had turned around for the better, and there it was nothing bad that could happen.
Mr. Alejandro, he even took us with him to look for some houses. He wanted to ask us our opinion on a couple houses, because he was about to buy one of them, and both of them had a mother in law apartment. Everything was doing just fine. It really felt like the beginning of a new good chapter in my life.
A couple of months went by after the wedding, and we were having this very nice routine going on. We were living with her parents, I was going to work, and every time we had a chance we spend time together. I was doing very well at my new job, and I had a four hours long lunch, so that was plenty of time to come home, and met for lunch every day. Most of the days at the table were just the four of us-Mrs. Siria, Mr. Alejandro, Ivanisa and me-and we really enjoyed our time together.
Everything was just fine until one of those days Mr. Alejandro mention at lunch time that he has been invited to a ceremony to receive a diploma. His company donated part of the work for a new grid up in the mountains, and he has been invited as a guest of honor to the opening ceremony. What caught my attention about what he mentioned was the fact that he was going to receive his diploma at the same Military Base where I served my year in a half in the military. He was going to Paradise, and he was going to spend the whole weekend up there. He told us, "I have Friday to get there and get used to the altitude, Saturday is the Ceremony with an after dinner party, Sunday to recover from the hangover, and Monday morning to get back around lunch time." I didn't mention to him, all the bad experiences and memories I had in "Paradise" but we talked about me doing my military service up there. Mrs. Siria was telling him every time she could, "Alejandro don't drink too much up there please." He went to say, "Oh don't worry. I'm just going to have a couple drinks with dinner. You can't get drunk up there, because of the lack of oxygen, so is not much fun to drink anyways. Don't worry."
That weekend that he was gone the house felt so empty without his laugh, without his jokes or him cheating playing dominoes. Sometimes we played dominoes and it took me awhile to figure out how he won so often. He was heavy set and at home most of the time he didn't use a shirt at all, so while playing dominoes he would hide a domino under his man boobs. The time I figured it out I couldn't stop laughing, and every time I remember a smile appeared on my face. For sure the house felt empty that weekend without him around. I remember that Monday morning living for work thinking that he was supposed to be back that day, and most likely we were going to have dinner together or we were going to go out for dinner, and hear all about the ceremony up there in "Paradise." That Monday I came home at lunch time having in mind that it was Minestrone Monday. I knocked the door and Mrs. Siria opened the door for me. From the moment I saw her I could tell she has been crying for a while. I didn't ask anything, but she said to me, "Alejandro is not coming back he had a little too much to drink, and died while he was asleep. Sorry if I don't serve you lunch, but I'm not feeling well, help yourself." I gave her my sincere condolences, and a hug, and right after I went to the kitchen and grab a sit. I felt great sorrow in my heart when I learned the news, and I didn't think, not even crossed my mind that something like that could happen, "Just!" just when everything was coming along. I was completely blown away by the news. Really shuck me to the core, and I thought, "What a wicked and maledict place Pacollo was."
Everybody in the family started to show up that day, and everybody was devastated by the news. I did eat that day like any other day, and I even had seconds. I have the bad habit of swallowing when I am upset. Of course not everybody saw it like that, many said, "How is possible that he is eating in a moment like this?" I did get highly criticized for eating the day when Mr. Alejandro passed away. I couldn't help it.
That day something very remarkable happened in my spiritual life. For some reason Mr. Alejandro reminded me of my Daddy Oscar, not the same, but he gave me the sense that he cared about me and he liked me as a person, and definitely was mutual. That day after I ate my lunch I went to the restroom, and I could not shake my Daddy Oscar out of my mind, it was like living again his funeral all over, but this time with one big difference, this time I couldn't stop crying, the pain, the frustration, and the feeling of injustice were very strong in my heart. In that bathroom while I couldn't hold my tears, I cried for my Daddy Oscar for the first time. I realized that I have never understand before, how much I really loved my Daddy Oscar, and how much I have been missing him my whole life. While I was grieving the lost for Mr. Alejandro memories of my Daddy Oscar came to my mind, and I really lost it. I didn't know I was carrying so much sorrow inside my heart, and for so long. That experience was a real an eye opener, about who my daddy Oscar was in life.
After the tragedy was over I tried to hold things together the best I could. I even rent a house for the both of us trying to save whatever was left of our relationship, but she did spent more time with her mom than with me, and our rental house was a disaster most of the time. I worked as hard as I could, I did try to save whatever we had left, but it was impossible. After about ten months into our marriage we separated, and that was the end of our marriage. Soon after we separated, she came over to talk to me, and she asked me if I could sign the divorce papers and I did. It was a no question asked kind of moment. I signed the papers, gave them back to her, and we looked at each other in the eyes for the last time. Whatever was there before, we realized that whatever it was, nothing was left.
Good thing I had an okay job at the time, and kept me very busy, because my job was what gave me something to hang on to. Thanks God for that. It was a very hard time for me, and even if nobody knew how hard it was for me, I was going through a very hard time emotionally. Because in order to be successful in sales, you have to be always in an upbeat state of personality, and I was good at it, just like a clown that put up the show, nobody knew what I was really going through.
The routine of my work gave me the strength to keep going, and my coworker's jokes, and the committed will to accomplish a goal every month, was what kept me going.
Many times I did walk for hours while going to different factories and companies, trying to find new customers. like always thinking and walking was my favorite thing to do. Spiritually wise I still didn't consider myself a man yet, and maybe because of that I thought that God will one day have mercy on my soul. I remember praying to God for forgiveness all the time, especially because the fact that she was younger than me, I used to blame myself for everything that happened. I used to ask myself, "When can I call myself a man." I thought many times at the time that the answer for that, was just like the answer that people most of the time give you when you ask them the question, "When do I know that I am in love?" The answer is, "You know when you know."
Do to all that guilt I started to struggle with paste again, not every day, but one day a week I had a date with Mr. Duro. What a nightmare! Good thing I kept it under control, at least I never did steal, or robbed to smoke that crap. Good thing I was working, and I was able to keep my job, and somehow I did manage to came up with some cash to blow on that stupid crap. I was for sure burning my hard earned money, and I was literally burning it away, and destroying my health big time. I was not too proud of that, but I could not get away from it either. That was the struggle I had to face every day at that time in my life.
Good thing work at the time was my restrain, and what kept me from totally losing my religion. At the time I went to work, and I kept repeating myself, you can do better, you are better than that, you can do it, you can do it, and I did it, painfully so but I kept myself afloat. Even I managed to find me a better job, and this new job was located right in downtown Arica. I was so happy about that! Loved downtown! Loved it! It was the coolest place on town, and I was there.