Where did all my music go? Being the only documented child in a family of five can bring its own challenges. For example you will always have to translate for your parents, have an irrational fear of officers and have to carry the hopes and dreams of those that weren’t given the same opportunities you were. You know like being able to go to school, not having to work at the age of 13 and not have to “live in the shadows” like so many other undocumented people all over the US.
This brings me to my first day of kindergarten. I have so many happy memories of starting grade school. They center around incredible firsts such as books fairs, painting a self-portrait and always winning the tug-of-war during field day. I was always a very sturdy child. Another wonderful first was when my first grade music teacher gave me the opportunity to actually touch a violin. I thought, “Great! A guitar my size!” She went on to educate me on all the string instruments and asked me if I was interested in learning how to play. This was a really big deal. I could only take classes after school and my parents had to sign off. If I remember correctly, they were pretty neutral about the whole thing. They always supported me in any and all artistic endeavors at that age.
There was something about that violin. I became voracious. I insisted on going to a school that encouraged the arts. Soon after, I was not only enrolled in orchestra but also piano, drama, art and dance. I never claimed to be good at any of these endeavors but I loved them all. I chased the lovely melody all the way to the eight grade and then suddenly but also subtly there was a shift.
I was enrolled in a high school that focused on technology and any talk of music kind of ended. It wasn’t like they took away my keyboard or anything but there was a lot of talk of growing up and focusing on a profession. I don’t think I really paid much attention to the shift as teenagers really don’t focus on anything that doesn’t require something shiny or a push from parents. My parents were relieved to see me graduate high school with college credits and cried tears of happiness when I transferred into a four year degree for Management Information Systems. I was secretly dying inside. I hated every minute of it. I remember having a panic attack at Frys as I was browsing mother boards. Passive aggressively I flunked out of my first semester. This was a big no no in my family. My parents saw it as a waste and so did I. I realized I had to re-evaluate my whole future. I knew I didn’t want a life behind a desk but also needed to be able to make some sort or meaningful difference. I literally walked aimlessly around UTA’s campus until I bumped into the last school before campus ended. It was the school of social work. Without knowing it I bumped into my future.
A beautiful blend of art and science in real world practice. I command an orchestra in my own way. I can bring hope to a room of grieving family members or draw a beautiful picture with my words. I love it. My parents eventually realized that my happiness was more important than having a lawyer or a doctor in the family. Plus they raised a brat that was relentless when it came to getting her way. I really hadn’t put a whole lotta thought into it until recently. I still have a love of classical music and sometimes am a little envious of my cohorts, some of whom when on to Julliard or ventured out on artistic careers locally.There’s a sort of phenomena that happens to some first generation Mexican American youth. Because of the struggle that our parents face to give us a better opportunity they tend to push us toward professions that traditionally have yielded higher wages. There isn’t any real thought to what you want or what you would excel at as they have had to work in professions that they didn’t choose and choice in and of itself is more of a luxury in other countries. I think I will always wonder what if but I’ll never second guess my parents intentions. It’s because of them that I can play out my dreams every day of my life.