family business

“Baby, I’m going on an airplane..”

.”..and I don’t know if I’ll be back again.”

It’s 12:17 am.

My flight leaves in the next 6 hours. It takes me an hour to get to the airport (traffic permitting). About the same to get through check-in, security, and head towards the gate.

My Mom always asks about weight limit for luggage. Seeing if I can squeeze another two pounds in my suitcase.

Una sueter para tu Tia. A sweater for your Aunt.
Una falda para tu Abuelita. A skirt for your Grandma.

A new toy for someone that just had a baby in the family. Don’t forget that each pile is for each family. She continues. I am lucky enough to fit an extra pair of shoes in my suitcase. She does this every time. If I am allowed to take three pieces of luggage, I’d take them full to the max, with a carry-on packed tight and personal bag. But all just two pounds below the weight limit. With all the restrictions there is to fly and each airline charging for luggage, I make it always two pounds below the weight limit. 1 suitcase per ticketed passenger and a small bag for carry-on.

All packed tightly.

Going to the mother country takes months of preparation. Figuring out dates, budgeting costs, meanwhile securing the best deal possible. Of course flights based on luggage allowances doesn’t hurt either. An extra cushion to bring something for someone you love. If the months prior of shopping for each family member hasn’t prepared us, its the extended family members as well. She does this without even flinching. If she had her last dollar on her and found something that reminded her of someone; she would buy it.

That’s my Mom. Always thinking of others.

Then you have the special requests. Various family members asking for items that are too expensive in their country but cheaper and easy to come by at home. Never giving you notice. Always when your bag is packed and you’re ready to go; that your whatsapp sends you an alert.

Hola, te puedo pedir un favor? Hello, can I ask you a favor?

Sometimes I want to throw my phone out the window. Why do you wait until 3 days before I leave?  When you’ve known for months I was coming. But still, I always oblige. It’s what my Mom does. It’s what I have always been taught.

I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve been to Ross, Marshall’s, Target affiliate stores to prepare for this trip. Or the countless times we’ve been to the Segunda. Not including the countess times I’ve complained, begged, pleaded with my Mom to stop buying things. Nobody needs anything. They have more than enough. Remembering a Prima that just came back from the states and went on a fancy shopping excursion. Or mentioned about a family member that always cried about being broke, yet has money to vacation everywhere. I am always told to be quiet malagradecida, ungrateful.

It’s 12:37 am.

I’ve watched as she unpacks then repacks everything. Remembering a hidden shopping bag of items she had bought for my Abuelita. She’s had this suitcase packed the minute after I purchased my ticket. Confirming that it wasn’t as much stuff as last time. Tu Tia a ayudado mucho (Your Aunt has helped a lot), reassuring that every item had it’s reasons.

I am lucky if I could fit my own stuff in the suitcase. A pair of shoes, a book, something.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t pack anything. Puros malagradecidos. No one ever says “Thank You” anymore. It’s as if they expect something every time the plane lands. Especially after the last time. Where everyone pointed a finger at my Mom, that she was the dramatic one. Too sensitive, too passionate, always wanting everything in her way. She’s been away for so long, she doesn’t understand how we do things here.

I remember thinking. You try living miles away from your mother. Not in another state where you’re just a bus or plane ride away. In another country, where you have to adapt to a new language and completely new customs. After the last time, I wondered what they think. Do we seem better off because we live in such a glamorous country? Because honestly, I don’t feel better off. Traveling back and forth isn’t easy with just a swipe of a credit card. Including when you have no money, including when you haven’t worked in a few months. But the glitz and glamour of gringolandia makes people believe otherwise.

I sit starting at the suitcase wondering if she remembers what I do. If that even matters to her. I harbor grudges. I become angry. If they only knew the things we have suffered here with no sense of family. If they only knew the things we have been through being miles away from people we could trust. But I am the ungrateful one? Malagradecida. I wish I could put everything back. Return everything. Get my Mom something she really deserves. Because she of all people deserves a suitcase full of everything she loves. Not them.

I remind my Mom about the many times our family members come to the states, without thinking twice about coming to visit. Using the pretext of shopping in bigger states, going to awesome theme parks, and how it’s just not easy for them to travel like its easy for us too.

How easy going to Vegas must be then the extra miles it would be to fly out to SFO. How silly of me an American to understand spending money in the most expensive country in the world.

My mom thinks of everyone. Even after they have yelled at her. After they have talked behind her back. After she spends a few days in silence after some new bullshit arises.

Remember this bag is for your Prima.
Don’t forget to tell your Abueilta, this sweater is for when she goes it temple..

I wish I had my mothers heart. Able to forgive people as easily as they have hurt you.

It’s 12:55 am.

I go over my flight itinerary, who’s going to pick me up, who I will hug first and what I am going to say when I see my family.

I know she’d rather go in my place. That I am in no position to be going anywhere with my current financial state. I should be home instead of boarding a plane and enjoying every moment being somewhere else.

I sit with anxiety and wonder what awaits me. Will I still be angry? Will I learn to forgive?

When I wake up I’ll forget everything. I will board the plane, sit in my assigned seat and watch the plane take off into the clouds toward Benito Juarez International. I’ll sit and fidget the 4 hours it takes to get there; wondering why I make this trip at all. I think about going back. Taking the trip back home and sitting in my miserable state.

It’s at that moment I wish my Mom came on this trip with me. How she would be sitting by the window, making her plan for the whole week. Going over ever last detail of the contents of the suitcase and how happy it will make everyone to see what they will receive. I think about how happy it makes her to see the people she cares about happy. How happy she was for me the minute I purchased my ticket; knowing I will be spending time with my Abuelita. It’s at that moment, I do feel like a malagradecida (ungrateful).

I shouldn’t be here. I need to stop being angry. I need to get over this feeling, just as my Mom does the moment she comes back home to the states. Because out of all the people in the world, she deserves to be going on this trip. She deserves to spend time with her Mami, my Abuelita. Not an ungrateful person that holds grudges such as myself.

I know the moment I land in Mexico, it will all be different. My attitude will change and my anxiety will lift away. The moment I see my Abuelita, every feeling I had will disappear. She deserves to be here where I stand, not me. But I promise to be grateful on this trip, just like she would want.

But I can’t help but wish she was here. Because she deserves to be here more than anyone. Not me.




There’s this unspoken bond of loyalty between siblings. It’s a blood pact. No matter what happens in life you are to remain loyal to this member of your immediate family. Always have each others back and so forth. So excuse me if I seem a little bitter but sometimes blood doesn’t always make you family. What makes you family is the unseen power of loyalty and no amount of money in the world could change those sentiments. The moment you turn your back on family, is the moment you stand before the world alone. Friendships end but family is suppose to be forever. As an older sibling I was always taught to honor our family values and to always take care of my sibling. What do you do when your own sibling doesn’t want to be a part of the family. When your sibling would rather choose to live a separate life away from family values. How is it that two people raised by the same parents, with the same values be so completely different? One understanding the value of loyalty and family and while the other choose to live a life by the standards of their handouts before them. I guess I’ll never understand the genetic makeup of some people and while I try to piece together who they once were, I’m left with finally understanding who they truly are. A complete stranger with only the same characteristic as myself and nothing else.

I have stated this a million times. I am not a perfect person. I am fucked up and flawed just like the next person. The qualities I lack I understand people feel the same way about themselves. This isn’t my intention to bash a persons personal beliefs just sometimes I do feel like I get the shit end of the stick. Since I am the older sibling, I catered to the dramatics of my younger sibling. While my parents were more strict on me for being the oldest, being a female they were far less strict on my sibling. He could come in and disrespect my parents and make a list of demands. Each time, each parent catered and played into his manipulative web. I was the buffer, I was the keeper of the peace. For a long time I believed I had to protect my sibling because that’s what families do. They had each others back. For every time my sibling believed someone other than me, would break plans to hang out with his friends, or just be absolutely rotten, I allowed it. Because at the end of the day that’s family. When everyone in life turns their back on you,  you will always have family.

That’s what I believed. I mean that’s what I was taught. Family didn’t have an end. When the worst of the worst happens, you have family.

In the course of the 20 plus years I lived with my sibling this person went through a course of changes. Started acting differently, started speaking differently and at one point became a dangerous person. When you harbor a lot of darkness you tend to focus primarily on keeping it hidden as much as possible. My sibling had that problem. For most of their young adult life I never saw this person. My sibling would come home to sleep and the rest of the day just be gone. Just as my life became destructive, my sibling’s life followed through. We became completely different people, that people would even doubt we were siblings at all. The day my sibling went through a terrible breakup was the moment I knew my sibling needed me. I offered a new beginning in the wake of my own new beginning. An olive branch hoping that’s what my sibling needed. Once again the same destruction followed through. I wasn’t in the mind space to babysit and once again I never saw my sibling unless it was night fall. While that story goes into a post in itself, I will state that for a year I didn’t speak with my sibling. For all I knew my sibling was dead to me and I was an only child. It wasn’t until we were splitting up our holidays to avoid each other that I knew I couldn’t continue on like that. It was absolutely breaking my mother’s heart and I knew I had to swallow my pride. It was then that I decided we couldn’t continue on like this anymore. While I still harbored a lot of resentment from the past, I kept it inside. I was bigger than that. I was bigger than letting stupid idiotic bullshit from the past get to me. While my sibling still lived in the city I was planning to call my home, still working in the industry I wanted to work in, and still living what I believed my life was suppose to be. I will be honest. I was and still to this day am bitter. Everything in my life I’ve had to work hard for. Nothing in my life has been handed to me and every time I’ve fallen down, I’ve been the one to lift myself up again. I never once received an apology for the all the years my sibling was such a horrible person. Because that’s family, and at the end of the day we’re family.

Just as I had with my friends prior I too tried to buy my sibling off. I couldn’t tell you the countless material things I’ve bought, the dinners, the money I’ve lent, the money I’ve had stolen from me, and the countless times I’ve had to get my sibling out of a jam. Even with all of those things I did it with honor because we were family. Just as the countless disappointing factors in my life, my sibling was the biggest. While I envied siblings that actually got a long, I couldn’t be in the same room with my sibling. It was this false hope of being family and the reality was I absolutely hated my sibling. Everyone always allowed my sibling to get a way with everything, always rewarded his bad behavior and I was left picking up the pieces. I was looked down upon for disrespecting my sibling but my sibling could punch a few walls and call everyone every name in the book. How fair is that exactly? How exactly is that a sense of loyalty. In the course of everything that happened in my life my grandfather passed and with that my mother had a heart attack. With everything that happened my brother showed no remorse. Sure he shed an artistic tear, probably talked about “feelings” as they do in Hollywood. Who was the one that picked up the pieces? Who was the one taking care, going to various doctor appointments and not being able to sleep at night in the worried notion that at any moment another family member would be gone? I understand that’s my doubled ended sword of being the oldest but not once did my brother offer to help. Not once did he think to come and lend a hand. I don’t doubt my sibling’s feelings but his constant money worries were far more important then any of our families feelings and well being. That was the beginning of the end for me. I was absolutely worn out. I could talk to people but when you can’t talk to family then who can you talk to. Again that’s family. You’re suppose to always be there for family, right?

What broke the bond between siblings was the day my sibling choose his new life over family. The day my sibling was too good for our family, our customs and even our culture. When my sibling started to cringe whenever we spoke Spanish and even forgetting our own customs. My sibling would compare our customs with that of his friends and how his friends customs were better. Less religious, more English, more white. When your sibling makes a mockery of the very things you were brought up to be proud of you lose a sense of respect for this person. It was as if I didn’t even know who this person was. He harbored all the characteristics of someone I knew but he was so completely vacant. He was a hollow shell of the person he used to be. He became more entitled, he believed he was better than this family. The day I was absolutely done was the day we were suppose to go to a baseball game together. We had planned this game for months, a game of his choosing where I once again paid for everything. The night before the game he wanted to change everything from the time we went, to the events we would go to, even changing going to the game itself. It became this ultimatum, his way or the highway of his obscene dramatics. No matter which way I tried to make a peace with the game, he just stated more demands. It wasn’t until he said he only wanted to go to half of the game and got my parents involved that I was being difficult that I had it. When both of your parents are screaming at you that his dramatics are your fault that’s when you reach your breaking point. I grabbed the two tickets I paid for and handed them to my sibling. “Take who ever you want to go with and never talk to me again”. With that stated and no matter how many times I play it in my head, I am still the bad guy.

In the course of this understanding my debt experiment I realize that everything I do is carried by emotion. Love, sadness, and even the true understanding of loyalty. I couldn’t even tell you what I remembered that made my sibling so great because the person before my family is nothing like the person he was before. They’re a vacant memory in a pile of ghost stories. The problem with family is that at the end of the day they are suppose to be the people who will always have your back. The first time I stopped talking to my sibling I said I was done, but my emotion made me cross that burning bridge hoping there was a tiny glimpse of the past. Crossing that burning bridge was my undoing, I did the apologizing. I made the attempts of contact and tried to mend. Instead I grew more infuriated with this person. The life they lived, the positions they had, more importantly I wasn’t mending anything. My sibling and I are nothing a like. We both have different views about what loyalty is and I respect that. In August it will be yet another year that I haven’t spoken to my sibling. That I know nothing of their life or care to even know about. While some days I am sadden by this I know I did what was best. People will never change unless they want to. While I believed maturity and time would change people, I was wrong. Instead its the same person just 50 pounds lighter with a hand looking for a hand out. Nothing ever changes. It sucks feeling that people have a way of always letting you down and even the people that are always suppose to have your back don’t.

You reach that point in your life where you have to let everything go and hope for the best. Hope that at the end of the day people will eventually change for the better and with that you’ll find a change in yourself. While I no longer believe that my sibling is living the life I was suppose to lead, I still harbor a lot of hurt and the pain from the past. Its going to take more than a year to get over and until I can truly get over it will I be able to fully heal. I am done crossing burnt bridges, chasing empty pavements, when people find themselves only then can they give me a call. Only then will I truly and honestly listen.