The Environment I Was Raised

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A majestic playground filled with laughs and memories, and a beautiful curly-headed little girl with locks of gold to match her massive pearl colored house and picture-perfect family. Soon enough to realize that it was all in the distance of my imagination. Growing up with two married parents sound ideal. However, ideal was far from it, with an amazing family that had four perfectly healthy children, or so they thought. Family is everything, that’s what everyone keeps saying… but what happens when one of them takes a wrong turn again, again, and a couple more times? The environment in which I was raised in reflects off myself as a person. My brother has shaped me into the person that I am today. Everyone goes through hard times, no “but”. Usually people turn to drugs, alcohol, depression or try to look for help, in my brother’s case it was all the above except seek help. At the start of my youth I became the second oldest sibling, my brother, Jose the oldest of four. From there we both thought it could be nowhere else, but up. Until one day when I reflected on these words that would create earthquakes miles and miles away and of course haunt me forever: “Wait no, what are you doing…”. Afterwards, I could hear nothing more than the crashing of his entire life and my heart.

What could I do except rewind and replay this phrase over and over in my mind. We, four siblings, were raised to know the value of our selves and not of money, well three of us knew. I didn’t have a normal or even typical childhood. I didn’t play on a swing set it was more like swing my feet back and fourth on a bench at the police department while we waited to pick up my troubled teenage brother for possession and distribution of drugs and alcohol. As I saw a few wads of money getting handed over to the police time after time I started to notice that something wasn’t adding up right. Why was it so important to pay a “bail” and how did that help us? Watching as tears rolled off her round, rosy plump cheeks into the back of her hand mom couldn’t do much at this point, except hope. As a kid I caught on quickly and figured out what was right from wrong, and no I don’t mean what a typical 8-year-old would say: “eat candy before dinner”. Jose, my brother, wasn’t ever afraid to do anything ever, nevertheless, get caught doing it.

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However, the day came when he went to a detention center and was deported to Mexico, for multiple violations against our family. I had never seen him so terrified. His skin pale as a ghost, hands shaking and a trembling voice, as the last words I heard were, “Wait no, what are you doing…” and soon coming to realize they had come from my mouth. Living in a home with immigrant parents, where they’d speak of what it’s like to live in a country where moving up in the world isn’t a choice or something that’s dependent on. For any of us to go back to where they came from wasn’t an option. Jose may not have been an ideal citizen, student, or role model, but family is all we have with or without the same DNA.

Luckily, he has helped figure out where I could’ve taken a wrong turn and how a repeating story would not make a difference. My brother is the reason for why I do what I do, who I have become and what I will become. The environment may not have been ideal or wished upon, but we were all together up until some point. So, maybe I may not have had the greatest childhood or life, but I will always have the value of myself and my family. No matter who was there to raise or care for me I always knew I would never again feel alone. I now know that the environment in which anyone is raised in is not based on the matter of how great it seems or on how many materialistic items they own but about how much love they saw, gave, and received. Therefore, I am beyond grateful for having this home, broken or not, rich or poor, big or small no matter how rough it may have gotten “family is everything” even if we are thousands of miles apart.

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