Once he was young, and strong.
Once he would dare anything, do anything.
Climb mountains, swim rivers, mighty rivers,
To find the American Dream.
To support his child and his wife,
Deep in the interior.
Once he could trek through the wilderness,
Caring nothing for the heat, and the snakes,
And the javalines.
Caring nothing for ‘los rinches’
That tried to keep him out of,
Los Estados unidos.
Once he could run for endless days,
And even longer nights.
Once, no longer.
For now, he is just a pile of bleached bones,
Slowly turning to dust,
In the chaparral.
It was December 24th, 2005. 11:50pm. Tradition is, we open our christmas presents at 12 o’clock on the dot on Christmas. I have never seen so many presents in my life. There were so many that every kid on my block would be able to have two. Once the big hand touched 12, I ran, preparing to be full of joy with all my new toys. And oh boy was I? As the night ended, while playing with my new toys and wearing my new jewelry, I asked myself, “how did my mom and dad afford all this?” The question stayed in my head for a minute, but it disappeared because the last thing a seven-year-old year old thinks about when they just got all these new toys. All I knew was that my parents did whatever it took to support our family. The thing is money never seemed to be a problem in my house. In my eyes, money was always there.
Years go by and it is my 10th birthday. A big party at my house just for me. All me. Lights glowing, children laughing, you can say we had a good time. The question of “how did my parents afford all this stuff” popped in my head again, but this time, it did not go away. My mother was the only one of worked and my dad always stood home but he always had money. It was not until the day after my party that I asked my dad how he made all the money he had. His response was that he had a night job, and he just left it at that. I did not know what to make of that, but I stopped questioning him. I was not surprised on my dad having a night job but more of the fact that he had a job. My dad made a lot of mistakes growing up and that prevented him from a lot of job opportunities, so to hear that he found one is what made me surprised. After this, I took my dad’s word and did not think anymore of it. I had the thought that my dad worked at night. .
It was not until I turned 13 that I found out what my dad’s “job” really was. I was taking care of my dad one day due to a high fever, when all of a sudden, we hear a knock on the door. It was his friend. It was kind of odd for him to just randomly pop up at our door, but for my dad, it was normal. My dad then said, “Son, stay in the room”. I should have listened. I peeped to see what they were talking about and then I seen my dad give his friend a bag of weed for exchange of money. At that moment, it clicked. My dad did not work a 9-5 job. He was a dealer. Something all schools tell you to stay away from. A person who only does bad. My eyes opened wide and a lose of words. I did not know what to think. I could not just go on and act like I did not see anything. After my dad’s friend left, I immediately asked him what was he doing. He saw the curiosity in my eyes and decided to tell me the truth. He mentioned to me that he does not like what he does by any means. He wishes that he could find another way to make money but nothing was going to his favor. He told me that he has to do what he has to do to support his family. That he risk his life everyday to make sure that we have enough money to survive. He was scared that I would look at him differently. Like a bad guy or someone “weak”, but in reality, I grew a lot of respect for my dad. My dad is risking his life for the financial stability of his family. That to me is a man. But it made me sad that this is what my dad had to do. That this “American Dream” was impossible for him to achieve due to mistakes he made as a teenager.
As time went by, so did our time with my father. On May 19, 2014 my father was arrested with possession of drugs. It tore me up because he was looked at as a bad guy. As a criminal. Even though he did break the law, he did it for the support to his family. To make sure that his family has food on the table and a roof over their heads, but the police did not seem to care about that. My dad was a good guy doing a bad man’s job.
It’s been extremely hard without my father. Emotionally and financially. My dad the breadwinner of the house. With my dad being taken away buts my family and I in an even deeper hole to climb out of. We had to make drastic financial changes and having to go everyday weeping over my father. Society does not see what some people who do just to help their family achieve this american dream. Some go to the limit of breaking the law, not because they want to but because it is their only way of income. But for what? For police to rip them away from their loved ones and create a harder life for their family. Not every “criminal” is a criminal. Maybe their just someone trying to achieve the american dream, just like my father was trying to do.