“Bring something from your favorite sports team or cultural event,” said the prompt. It opened a box of deep and rich memories associated with my Dodgers. It reminded me of why I love the team so deeply and why I could never love another team as intensely.
My dad and I did not speak more than one word to each other once I turned five. He still held my hand when we walked if I reached for it – on the walks home from school when he would pick my sister and me up from elementary school. I still smiled when we stopped at the liquor store to buy his brown paper bag-covered drink and chips and a juice for us. And all throughout my child and young adulthood I still ached for his approval, for him to say something – anything – that showed me he still saw me. Somehow I knew he loved me in his own way, he was just too sad to show me. Too sad to show anything at all.
As a kid I used to break into his safe when he was away at work. I would pull out articles that he collected. Trophies, medals, and certificates of academic achievement, sports, and volunteerism that I racked up as a kid. I would flip through the pictures he kept – of me – and wonder why he kept them and if he ever looked at them. And then I found a picture of a chubby little two year old with dark hair wearing a Dodgers uniform and I knew it was me. It made my heart stop in anticipation. He bought me that uniform. Back when we spoke and hugged and openly loved one another. I wonder now if all those years I actually remembered running through the house and into his arms in that uniform, or if I just procured it out of thin air from sheer desire.
As complicated and painful as our relationship has been, I love my father deeply. My chest hurts, even at this very moment, thinking about all he sacrificed to stay here in these states that he never craved. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month I reshare the story of how my father came here to stay. And stay too long I think, so long that he lost himself.
Undocumented It All Started with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This is for all first-generation American-born children of Latinx immigrants (and immigrants everywhere) who have felt that their words and love got Lost In Translation.