Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mexican Roulette

My Cinnamon & Honey latte doesn't taste like honey. It's heavy on the cinnamon though. Its nice to get lost in the leaves that are designed with the froth atop. I'm sitting here wondering how they do that. Anyhow, I had to write that in order to transition into my chosen topic, since it's of a more personal matter, which is difficult for me to write, since it deals with familia. Over the years I had the phrase Mexican Roulette in my mind, and I knew I wanted to do something with it, either a fictional story or well, what will now be a blog post. It always revolved around my frustration toward my family. See, my family, we're seven. It's my mother, father, my four siblings, and myself.

Anyhow, I left for college, to try to make something of myself. The whole time there, my family was sending me porra, or cheering me on, and to a certain extent I expected my siblings all to come to college as well, or at least do something productive with their lives. Eventually as the years went by, I found my siblings choosing their own paths. One sister chose to work and eventually got married. Another became a teenage mother, and is now married. Then I have two younger brothers, who have been in trouble with the law, in and out of jail and prison. Throughout my time, as the years progressed they grew up and chose their own paths, not one of them looking to attend a university as a viable option. I am in no way looking down on my siblings for not attending college. My mother was very adamant that they all try to get a higher education. But I never saw it the way she did. I always told her, that school/the university, wasn't for everybody, as long as they chose to be productive and stay out of trouble, that should be enough, especially since it's so easy to get into the normality of trouble in my neighborhood. In fact one of my sisters tried to attend a university, and she just decided it wasn't for her, and I was fine with that. Ultimately when one of my brother's first got locked up, and then released, I was frustrated, and what tends to be a norm for me, pissed. At first I was angry at my brother, I was angry at both my brothers for a long time. Then I realized that I was more so angry and frustrated with myself, because I felt I failed them.

I couldn't understand or make sense of why they didn't look up to me as an older brother, and choose to attend classes or at least pursue something dealing with their creativity or interests. One of them is a history buff, and especially enjoys learning about the military, spends the majority of his time watching the History channel, or the Military channel. Intelligent, and a good artist. One day I accidentally heard my other brother, the youngest, rapping. All I could do was stand there wide-eyed at the discovery, because he sounded like a legitimate rapper, I didn't hear him stumbling on his words, he flowed smoothly.

But their non-interest to pursue those talents, left me shaking my head. I couldn't make sense of it. I would stop and think-we grew up in the same neighborhood, so why is it that I'm on this path, and they on theirs? It can't be pinpointed to one specific factor. There's of course the peer pressure, the family issues, and the socioeconomics. But I refused to point at any one or all of those issues, because I held my family to a higher standard, and expected them to meet it, mainly because I wanted to see them succeed and be happy. And yes success, and happiness is different for everyone, which is why I say school is not for everyone, but I feel my siblings should want something more out of life, besides being in the barrio, never leaving our street or driveway, because that's all they know, and that's all they want to know. They never leave our town. A trip to another city? Maybe, the farthest I understand they've traveled is San Jose, a 45 minute trip north of us. Other than that, anything that will take more than one hour they haven't done, because that's too far, and the barrio is home. Yet I somehow managed to leave. But leaving, has morphed into a sense of abandonment, because I felt I left them behind to fend for themselves. Yes, I'd return for vacations, the holidays, spring break, and the summer. But having me around during those times wasn't enough to look up to me as a big brother, and possibly follow my footsteps, because they chose to look up to the guys running the streets in our neighborhood, and eventually become like them. I try not to do a compare and contrast with my brothers, because I know that the dynamics in my family changed after I left, so they grew up differently than I did to certain extent, because of that change. I speak with my mother, and she specifically asks what she and my father did with me and my sisters as opposed to my younger brothers, and I tell her, that her and my father as parents are accountable, but that my younger brothers are just as accountable because as individuals they made certain choices. But I let her know, that even me and my sisters are accountable, because maybe we didn't provide the guidance we should have since we were caught up with our own lives, and when we eventually stopped to check in on them, it was maybe too late.

I brood over this quite a bit. My youngest brother, the rapping protege, is trying to make a positive change, be more productive with his time by attending tech school. Personally I wish he'd pursue those rapping, and writing interests a lot more. He was a great athlete as well, had the height, the athleticism, and passion for football and even baseball, but he chose the barrio. Or did the barrio choose him? I have no idea; I'm just trying to sound philosophical now. #Fail. I think about the fights that my mother told me my brothers had been in, at times being jumped by a pair of brothers. And it irks me to no end, that I couldn't be there as an older/big brother, to have their backs. I couldn't do anything for them, because I wasn't there, I was away in school, studying and partying, or was it partying and studying? Nonetheless I ask myself why they made those decisions? Do I feel like a success? No, I don't. I won't feel like a success until I'm done with my time in the university, and even then, I won't feel successful until I have been gainfully employed. But I know for a fact, that even then I won't feel successful, unless I've extended my hand to my brothers to try to help them pursue their own endeavors and their interests, and also to try to help my family heal.

In Russian Roulette, you place the end of a barrel to your temple, you keep pulling the trigger until the lucky bullet shoots through the barrel of the gun, and your brain matter splatters on a wall. I'm not sure why I chose the phrase Mexican Roulette, all those years ago, but I'm sure it has to do with my demented and fucked up sense of humor, which tends to often get me in trouble. I do know that it had to do with my family, specifically my siblings. Growing up, my parents were quite insistent on telling all of us to pursue a higher education. Since I can remember, out of the 5, I'm the only one who chose to grow that seed they had planted. So, in Mexican Roulette I'm the one that splatters the brain matter, I'm the "lucky bullet." And I don't mean "lucky," as in "Yay, I'm doing better than everyone else!," I'm saying that out of the 5 of us, I'm the one that even now still wrestles with the sense that I have abandoned my family. In Mexican Roulette, I splattered the brain matter of my family, because of this abandonment.


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