Thursday, September 27, 2012

Early Realizations

Part two. What is fact versus fabrications, though, is something we may never truly know.


Early Realizations

I stood inside in the small apartment, my curly hair a short mess, my hands held onto the screen door, and I stared out into the street. I pressed my head into the screen and marveled at the poor neighborhood gleam. A stretch of dirt and mix of concrete sat in the front lawn. The narrow street divided the small apartment complex from the other side of the road. The entire site looked beautiful to toddler me. Beautiful, mysterious, colorful, and with a call for adventure.

I stood in my underwear inside the small apartment wishing I could be outside and ready for an adventure. All the meanwhile, I also stood in the middle of a red ant trail. Obviously, the ants thought of me as an intruder, and they bit me. I cried. I can't remember crying for my mother or crying for anyone. But, I do remember that I cried and continued to stare at the street.

That's when we lived on Calle de Amor, literately Love Street. We didn't live there for long and I can't remember other details of my first few years, but who can? Toddlers don't generally remember these things. There are stories, though. More fabrications.

According to my mother and older sister, they would catch the bus coming from Mexico and take it into downtown for groceries. My older sister would have to carry me, while my mother did the grocery shopping. Then they'd get back onto the bus and walk to the small apartment complex.

There's a vague area between the love my sister had or has for toddler me and the reality of things. Same with my entire family, actually. My father isn't in any of the memories of living on Calle de Amor, but I loved him. Because, I loved everyone as a kid. But did anyone really love me? The answer is yes, the evidence can be sketchy.

This evidence is the basis for the larger story of me. The essence, the reality behind what could be me. We will examine clinical reality, three perspectives from family folklore, and a fourth hypothetical perspective. It's what my younger sister and I dub as “the mystery of my birth,” the creation of Sarai.

Clinically, I was born in 1988, Saturday the 30th of January at 6:44AM. I am the first daughter of my father and the first granddaughter to my Grandmother Reyna. I am the second daughter to my mother and the fifth granddaughter to my Grandmother Manuela. My mother was 34, my father was 24, and my older sister was 9 at the time of my birth.

At the time of my birth, I already had the expectation to be a proper Mexican woman from my Grandmother Manuela. Also, because I was the daughter of my father, I also had more expectations to not be anything like my father. I am the first American granddaughter to my Grandmother Reyna with the expectation to rise into the American dream and help my family in Mexico. Spoiler, I'm not anything what my family expected me to be.

I was born a tiny six pound baby and then life happened. The first perspective, as relayed by my grandmother, my mother would abandon me in my crib and let me cry forever, stay hungry, and let myself soil myself.

The second perspective, as relayed by the collective point of view of my mother and older sister, is that I was adored. I was adored in the manner that my older sister would help look after me as if I was her new doll.

The third perspective, and more of an undebatable family story, I was just a baby doing baby things then suddenly a wild fever appeared and I got sick. I was rushed to the hospital, doctors used a ton of IV on me; sickness. Then science made me better, and I lived through the fever and everyone always commented that if it weren't for science (or God or whatever) I would have had brain damage.

Brain damage. Bringing brain damage into a little kid's formative years just makes for a very impressionable kid. “Did you see what Sarai did? Yeah she's so amazing for a little kid who almost had brain damage.” So little Sarai made sure to do amazing things for a little kid because she was special.

Family folklore mentions that I had meningitis. A quick trip to Wikipedia paints a very dirty picture of what meningitis is. A deeper Google search brings up a horrifying picture of meningitis in infants. Common causes of meningitis are viral or bacterial infections of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Viral is apparently less deadly; bacterial is serious and may result in death or brain damage even if treated. Symptoms usually escalate quickly and may include: fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, stiff neck, and mental status changes.

If you take into account the three perspectives of my birth, then yes. They all sound very plausible and together they paint a very sickening introduction to life. Hypothetically, if you add the following perspective, you get a more accurate depiction of the essence of who I am.

You're a tiny six pound baby hanging out in your crib. Your older sister thinks you're cuter then any doll she's ever owned. Well yeah, you have the cutest curliest hair ever. Just hanging out, then you have an urge for something. Food, water, hug, change of diaper? It doesn't matter, because you're a baby and you can't communicate these things. So you cry. Then cry some more. Just for theatrical effects, you pause in your crying to cry louder.

You're not anything special you're just a baby. But, all of a sudden you're crying for more than just food, water, hug, or change of diaper. There's something on the back of your neck. Then, Oh God, you're gurgling. Gurgling delicious food you need to survive, gurgling and vomiting. Are you aware of your mother's hand on your back as she gurgles you?

Nah, you think you're in some multidimensional space where you're not a baby anymore you're a mess of neurons and figments of your baby self. You never really liked having your eyes open in your past baby life, but then you refuse to open your eyes because it hurts more. Convinced, that you don't know what this 'hurt' thing is you cry louder. Then there's a pounding in your head. Pounding, tears, gurgling... pain.

Hospital, doctors, new realization of life. Maybe, a part of me changed. The part that led toddler me to the screen door in search of other things. The part that made sure to do amazing things because I am different. The part of me that never fully understood how to leave the shadows of the past and slide into the future.

All those perspectives make me realize that my introduction to life is probably more painful than the pain from the past seven months. I guess the only difference is that I'm aware of the pain now versus then when I didn't really remember it.

{ Previous - Make it Hurt


  1. Dear Sophey,
    As one stripped from my innocence by the realities of who I was to soon,
    We are special, not for the pain we have been through, but for the strength that it took to get through it. Not just our own, mind you, but that of those who loved us.
    What I would have given to hear clearly what my family only reveals in hints.
    To have them tell me what my records say.
    That I almost didn't survive to wish my blessings on those like me. those from between the spaces of life and death, male and female, joy and sorrow.
    Welcome to life sister,
    I am so glad that I am not alone. Jakie

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jakie. You're right, we're not alone. It's a crazy life, but at least we get to be crazy together.

  2. No matter what life throws at you keep smiling that beautiful smile of yours. You brighten up the darkest days and you make the lightest days shine so bright it warms the earth. Always remember your a beautiful person.

    1. Thank you. I do think that I have a nice smile.