Well, I don’t know how to start my story, and I think it’s because right now in my life I don’t know where to go. Before I graduated from high school, I think my life wasn’t that complicated or at least I didn’t think much about what my life would be like in a few months. When I got to senior year, which by the way was my fifth year, it went by very fast. That whole year was about making decisions and the truth is I was very confused about what I would do when I graduated. I had a lot of support from my counselor in the migrant program and others who were there for what I needed, but in my home, in my family since a year ago it’s become very grave.
My brother smokes pot, and uses other drugs. I don’t really know what they all are. All I know is that they make him very aggressive and several times he’s tried to hurt us. My older sister Alejandra was threatened with a knife, my mother and my dad were beaten, and he’s tried to strangle my younger sister Maria José. He has insulted all of us. I’ve tried not to give it much importance, but it’s really hurt me a lot.
“Besides seeing him ruin his life, I think it’s made it difficult for the other members of the family. While I was in high school, Alisal High, I could “manage” my situation and do well in my studies. And, as I said, even though my school had several people helping me, at home I didn’t see much hope of moving forward. My parents have always supported my brothers and I with school, but we also don’t have a very good economic situation. On top of that I am learning English and it gives me quite a few nerves when I start talking which leads to more mistakes and not communicating fluently.”
Halfway through my senior year in high school, I decided that I wouldn’t continue with applications to college or community college and that in 2017 I would return to Mexico to continue school. That decision or idea took a lot of pressure off of me and at the same time I think put me in a comfort zone.
When the school year was over at Alisal High School, I went to work in the fields cutting strawberries. It took me some time to learn how to cut them and get used to the back pain it causes. I started saving most of my salary. I also started helping my parents with rent and house expenses. I had or have plans to use that money to pay for college in Mexico, but my brother kept getting more and more violent and being at home was very unpleasant. Your home is supposed to be the place where you can be safe, but in our case, we had to be alert in case my brother would happen to want to hurt us. My parents and my sisters could not go on like this, so it was decided to take him to Mexico and seek help there. They were afraid that if they spoke to the police here, they could get aggressive and kill him like they’ve done with many young people in Salinas.
Since they’ve taken him, I’ve given my parents more money and I’ve had to pay more bills, so my savings have decreased.
I want to continue with my education either here or in Mexico. I’ll do it. I’m somewhat happy that I didn’t go with my parents and help this year. It’s helped me think more clearly about what to do. I still don’t know whether to leave or to stay, but now I have more oomph in my heart and hope in myself.
Storyteller Cristina García is a farmworker, a strawberry cutter, and from Salinas, Ca.