Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Dreaming of Drowning in Puddles

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Relationships | 0 comments

Navigating my family’s diseases

“Would undiagnosed neurosis and lack of boundaries count toward historical family diseases?”

My doctor laughed before responding, “Definitely. But I don’t treat those.”

“Then, no. But my pants feel tighter when I smell blueberry cornmeal muffins. That’s weird, right?”

“I’m not sure that’s true.”

“Okay, then, no. I also don’t have ‘weird’ family diseases,” I air-quoted around the word weird even though I was having my doctor’s appointment over the phone and my new primary physician didn’t see my awkward attempt at humor.

I do know he understood what I meant about boundaries. He is Indian.

It is true I don’t have genetic family diseases, though. We are the kind of family that exercises, supplements consistently and body-shames each other so we live long and healthy lives, giving free rein to our intrigues and ‘chantajes’ (emotional blackmailing).

While people strive to live the old Latin adage, a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ (or mens sana in corpore sano), my family adheres to their version of mens insanus in corpore sano (crazy mind in unhealthy body) with their undeniable gift for making mountains out of molehills and finding monsters in the shadows where there are none.

So much so that the first time I read Hughes Mearns’ poem, “I Met a Man Who Wasn’t There,” I was convinced he had the pleasure of meeting somebody related to me.

My family’s ability to continuously drown in glasses of water has always perplexed me. At times, I’ve tried psychoanalyzing my mom. I’ve felt silly and I have wondered what Freud would make of that.

I’ve also learned valuable information.

When my mom was 7, before her school bus turned the corner to her street, she always imagined an ambulance would be in front of her house. That dreaded nightmare never became a reality, but it describes her perfectly. She is always dreading the worst, especially when it comes to the health and safety of her loved ones.

This little memory that doesn’t belong to me has shaped the way I see courage.

When she was 13, my grandma used her connections to get her a summer job at a prestigious hotel in Cartagena. My mom went along for the ride, but when my grandma left, her supervisor turned mean.

The final straw came when my mom took two minutes more after her lunch break. The supervisor screamed at my mom, and she responded, “I need to go to the bathroom.” Then, she left the hotel and walked the 10 miles home. She never went back.

I have also witnessed the vestiges of that little girl’s bravado.

When my dad left, no job was too big or too small for her to put food on the table. She was always gifted at making friends easily and used that to go into sales.

No one would give a job to a woman without a degree in Colombia in the 90s. So she sold on the streets, she sold to our neighbors, and she sold door-to-door. What she sold always changed as she was always looking for an edge and something that would stick: silver jewelry, lingerie, candles, body mists, wholesale beef, cellphones, life insurance, and mutual funds. The product didn’t matter as long as it put food on the table.

When my sister and I decided to move out of Colombia, we couldn’t agree on where to go. So we decided to take our different routes. I wanted to go to Santiago de Chile, and she wanted to go to Miami.

My mom sat us down and said she only had money to send us to one place. For Rosy, Chile was out of the question since she had always wanted to move to the United States, and Miami wasn’t far enough for me.

Luckily, we both liked San Diego, and that’s where we ended up.

My mom, in her mid-40s, never had plans of letting us go alone. So, she left behind her language, her culture, and her hometown to follow her kids and journey to an unknown land.

That sacrifice has shaped the way I see life. It taught me that I can fear my cake and eat it, too.


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