Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Mexican Family

When I was 11-years-old, living in Tampa, I was the only girl among my friends who still had married parents.

My best friend Megan was the latest casualty of the divorce train. Her dad left her mom for a 20-something-year-old blonde named Amanda, which meant every time I spent the night at Megan's house, her wine-soaked mother would wail "fucking Amanda!" until 2 a.m., while a female friend consoled her.

When I casually mentioned this to my dad one afternoon, he was horrified.

So, my dad did what any concerned parent would do: he found me an adoptive family.

My dad wanted me to see what a real loving, stable family was like. He discovered a little Mexican family who lived behind his favorite grocery store. They were lower-middle-class, but rich with love. There was a mother and a father, who were immigrants, and their seven children, ranging from 18 to 5. There was even a daughter my age, named Christina.

For one year, my dad made me spend every single Sunday with the Perez family. And since I was brown, I fit right in!

I accompanied the family on their daily errands and adventures. We would go to the Hispanic district for odd food items, such as tongue and pork skins. We would run in dirty, littered fields, clutching bottled Coke and Tabasco-flavored Popsicles. When the van broke down, the girls and I would sit by the side of the highway and giggle about Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

As a miserable only child, I couldn't believe my luck. All of the sudden, it was like I had seven siblings! And they all adored me! They even referred to me as their sister in public, and nobody questioned it.

It was the good life.

The Perez family taught me the importance of church. Every Sunday morning, we would rush into the Spanish-speaking Catholic Church an hour late, ignoring the livid stares of parishioners and the priest. I think I even accidentally got baptized at the church, because Mr. Perez had me stand in a line where a priest threw Holy Water on me, said a bunch of stuff in Spanish, and then gave me a cross. The Perez family seemed very satisfied by the experience and kept saying "good, good" to me.

The Perez family taught me the importance of saving money. Some Sundays, Mr. Perez would buy a ticket at the movie theater and then open the emergency exit for us in the back. So the ten of us basically got to see movies for the price of one!

Their choices of movies were always odd, however. The only film I vividly remember was called Baby's Day Out, which was basically a nonsensical story about a toddler running loose in Chicago. But the Perez family loved it!

A year later, however, my dad's job got transferred to Nebraska, and we had to move. I sadly said goodbye to my Mexican family. I thought I would never see them again.

Well, four years ago, my dad took me to Orlando to see Morrissey in concert for my birthday. A couple days before the show, we decided to drive to Tampa and visit Christina, who I had recently gotten back in touch with through Facebook.

Christina, who is now ridiculously gorgeous, had us over for dinner in her new house. She updated us on her family and we were not prepared for it.

You see, three years after my family had moved to Nebraska, Mr. Perez left his wife for a beautiful coworker. The family was split apart and most of the siblings aren't talking to each other now as a result.

Christina, suffocated by her broken home, ran straight into the arms of a wealthy married man she had met in a Miami nightclub when she was 18. That man left his wife and married Christina, but then he mysteriously took off for Morocco in 2004 and never came back. But Christina didn't seem too upset with his absence, as she had already fallen in love with another man.

My dad and I sat there, listening to her talk, with our mouths open. We were in total shock.

When we left her house, my dad and I were quiet for most of the trip back to Orlando.

I felt really bad for my dad, who had had such faith in the Perez family. He truly believed the Mexican immigrants, with their family-oriented culture and Catholic morality, would survive.

"Nothing is sacred anymore," my dad finally said, sadly. "America has them now."


Shalini said...

Awww, that's so sad!
(I also lived in Nebraska, so now I know there were TWO brown people there. I am beginning to feel like the Internet is very, very small.)

creativefashionglee said...

Such a very sad story. Morality is so darn tarnished it vaguely exist now. A broken family is what hurts me the most. :(

Anonymous said...

your dad sounds like a hoot, haha

that's such a sad story! But trust me - marriage doesn't really last anywhere these days (I say this having lived in a Hispanic, very Catholic country). And I think sometimes that's for the better, to be honest (e.g. my parents' case)

Sidney Salim said...

That's a very sad story. However, if she's now happy with the man she fell in love with. We should only support her.
Pose Posh Post

Marissa said...

Wow - what a sad story! I was not prepared for that ending. :(

Andrés Corella said...

Wow the ending was so sad...but it happens..and a lot. Now is kinda like normal to see family split apart, and siblings not talking to each other...its really awful.

The Black Label

Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl said...

Oh wow, Jennifer, what a story!! One thing is certain - your dad sounds super cool. And no matter what happened, it sounds like the Perez family has taught you a lot, up to the moment you saw one of them for the last time with your dad. And life lessons is always a good thing, in my book.

P.S. Thank you so much for checking out my guest post over at Thankfulfor :) I'll be blogging there for some time and really excited about it :) I also have good news - I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog! Come take a look, you're super invited ;)

Rachel {Da Paura ♥} said...

This is very sad indeed! I often shudder at the state of the world and of humanity, and the way that marriage is not valued or held to be a sacred thing. Young women are certainly an object of desire, and it often puzzles me when I truly ponder at the way we work as humans...things that are instinct and things that are taught to us. (actions, desires, and behaviours) It seems that women are constantly in a losing battle, doesn't it?

But I do agree with Julia's comment - we should take the lessons that we learn through experiences. We can decide what we want to do with those lessons, and hopefully we will only grow and become better, even when discovering the negatives! :)


Sarah said...

Aww that's such a sad story, I wasn't expecting that ending at all. It's sad how such a happy family can still be ripped apart like that.


JUST ME said...

Nobody has 7 children and also a loving marriage. Just ask the Duggers. That lady has eyes that scream "GODDAMN MY LIFE!!" whenever she isn't staring at the camera.

My parents are actually still married. I think they had to relearn how to talk to each other after my brother and I left for college. Now they seem to tolerate / like each other just fine, but since my Dad spends half his day talking to our family cat, insisting that he has two personalities...I'm not 100% sure of their sanity in the long run.

Gayatri said...

Oh My God. This really is more than just a story.

While we are all saddened by the breakdown of a marriage, I think it must have been particularly shocking for your dad because (most of) that generation in India took their duty as a spouse very seriously.

I hope the parents & 7 kids are happy wherever they are and with whoever they're with.


Ameena said...

Such a sad story!

Your blog is interesting...I too am Half-Indian. It's nice to "meet" another person like me. :)

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Great story, Jenny. Personal and well crafted. Yes, the ending is sad, and nobody could have predicted what happened to the Perez family. I would focus on happier times, and everything they brought to you as the "adopted daughter/sister." Just one question-- Your dad is a thoughtful man. Should I do the same thing for Junior? He is an only child, like you! ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Alison said...

I don't know if it's just America anymore. That's too bad that they made those choices. I still think that it's up to individuals first and then the couple to be committed or not. None of this I changed my mind 72 days later stuff.

Shannon said...

You seriously don't make these stories up? They are always so interesting and well written.

I'm from a broken family but my husband isn't. I'm not sure which family is healthier to be honest. :)

A Heel in Mint said...

That's sad story. Wonder why nothing lasts.

Heel in Mint

Stephanie said...

Oh, this makes me sad. I was rooting for the Perez family. My husband (42) and I (33) both have parents who are still happily married to one another. I know how unusual and precious this is.

David L Macaulay said...

Great and poignant post as always J with top pics. That is sort of ironic. I always felt like the odd person out because my parents are still together. Made me feel all weird.

Arielle said...

Ah, JTT and Baby's Day Out. This is a sad story, i hate when good families are torn apart by divorce. I hope your dad finds his hope again.


Carrie said...

Jennifer! What a story that was. Sad but so true in so many cases. My dad divorced my mom and married a girl my sister went to school with. That girl "hated" my sister. It was soooo wierd. Their divorced now, yeah. Well at least you got visit with a loving family and experience if only for a little while what a family might feel like. Loved your talented at that. You had me laughing and then tearing up.
XO Carrie

Ka$h! said...

What a great post... that is really really sad.... Look at what America has done to society.. everyone cheating and leaving their families for younger "prettier" people... it's disguesting. my parents are happily married and im confident it will indefinitely remain that way. im sure it will be like that too when i get married... well, i hope. :)
XOXO Kasia

Ka$h! said...



Alexandria said...

Your life is fucking unbelievable. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Seriously. I can't even believe some of these stories. But damn. You were lucky to have a Mexican family. The food must have been out of this world.

Couture Carrie said...

What a story, darling!
Love you even more now!


Liezyl Gomez said...

awww. ;( it really is important to have a strong hold in your roots. family is important. i like it when you share stories like this.

azu said...

Wow! It's like there are whores at every corner these days, just waiting to snatch up somebody else's man. Bitches.

I have to make a comment about Catholicism. I was raised Catholic and my parents and siblings are genuinely good people. This is not the case for most Catholics (at least where I live). They think that just because they go to church they are holy. HA! They're sadly mistaken.
I've seen so many of these church goers behave like devils that it turned me away from church for years. I'm not saying that only Catholics do this type of thing, people of all religions and non religions do this. But I find it funny when people who are so committed to going to church EVERY SUNDAY do the most horrible things. It kind of makes you wonder... what in the world they are thinking of for that whole hour of service?

xoxo Azu

Julie @ ROJ Running said...

1. where do you get these fabulous images all the time

2. your posts always make me sad we weren't closer in school, being around you seems like another world.

Tanvi said...

That's sad but today's truth! Nothing really is sacred any more. I know your Dad must have been heart broken but it is what it is, right?

♡ from ©

Meri said...

Well regardless of who had influence on you or how they ended up, you seem to have soaked in some important values! What an interesting story you have!

That 20 Something Virgin. said...

That sucks it has such a sad ending :/ My parents are still married, and so are my best friend's and my boyfriend's, but other than that all my other friends' parents are divorced. All too common.

bridechic said...

This story would make a great storyline for a book or movie--But then truth is stranger than fiction, nes't pas?

wagthedad said...

I think this is a wonderful story. It doesn't really make me sad, it makes me optimistic. Is that strange? Kind of a roll-with-the-punches feeling.

And I think your dad is great for having done that, even though Hispanic Catholic morality did let him down.

Anonymous said...

The Perez family sounded so incredible. It's so sad that their family didn't stay together. It's scary how no one stays together anymore. :/

P.S. Thanks for loving my current hair shade. You are so lucky you're tan. I can never get a tan no matter how hard I try!

Lots of love, B
Tweet me: Viva_La_Breee

Sherin said...

Awww, oh no! I was rooting for at least one happy family! It's so sad.

Also, Baby Day Out was an insane movie!!

FashionJazz said...

What a sad ending babe : (

Hope u been well! Xx

Cafe Fashionista said...

You seriously had the most incredible adventures growing up, Jennifer. It's sad to see how many families are broken in today's society. :/

Tights Lover said...

What a crazy story! I can't believe your dad found you and adopted Mexican family. He sounds like a riot!

I was laughing for most of the story, but it definitely ended sadly.

I wonder if it is just our culture here in America? Most of my family comes from Italy and husbands and wives spend more time screaming at each other than anything else...but no one would have ever even entertained the thought of leaving with another man/woman...

Rachel said...

Wow! I was not expecting that ending at all. It's so sad the family ended up that way. :( But one thing is for sure, it sounds like you had quite the childhood! And I'm sure you learned a lot from the Perez family too. I don't think my parents would ever have me spend one day a week with another family. Lol.

karin said...

OMG What a great post. I´m Mexican and I can say that yes we are very influenced by your culture but I think that despite we have many problems in my country the concept of family is very respected. My parents have been together for almost 50 years and I couldn´t be more proud. Sadly I have many divorced friends,very young with little kids, it´s very sad.Kisses from

Diego R. Wyatt said...

Wow...that's heartbreaking. Marriage has not changed...people have changed their views about it and what it means. Not sure if that's evolution. Children and marriage are damn stressful!


Natassja said...

oh my goodness! This is such an intense story! Who would have thought that such a nice family would turn out to be so dramatic :( Makes Megan's mom and "Effing Amanda!" seem way normal now, huh? Thanks for sharing another great story!

A Brit Greek said...

Oh no! No more sad stories Jenn!!!!
We can only move on from what we've learnt from the past though right?

Girl, my BFF is as fabulous as you are, infact you two would probably hit it right off, she's freakin' hilarious too, but then she is in advertising too. They all have wit, talent and creativity that lot!

p.s thanks for my b'day wishes!

Angie said...

My parents (both divorced when they met) have now been married almost 31 years. Oddly neither of their marriages broke up due to infidelity.
Regardless, the value placed on marriage these days is as sick as our economy. Very sad indeed.

Josie said...

What happened to them is truly tragic -- all I can say is try to remember the good times.
xo Josie

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh that's sad. But I think sometimes we have an idea of certain cultures and that they must always have stable family lives and it isn't always so. I think a lot of things go on behind closed doors.. I'm sure lot's of people must think Indian families who place such a big importance of marriage and family must always be quite stable, but it's quite often like a soap opera with my cousins, aunties and uncles!

Bhav x

SassyUptownChic said...

WOW Jennifer! What an amazing story filled with twists and turns. I would've never guessed. With time, it surely brings on CHANGES. Some good. Some bad. Thanks for sharing this girl! Hope you're having a great day.

jos xx said...

that's sound pretty bad. when parents have problems between them, it's always the children that get hurt the most :(

jos xx

That Chelsea Girl™ said...

Growing up, I always had a surrogate "normal" family (my parents both remarried 3+ times). Monogamy is not for everyone, however. It takes a strong person to not stray. Great story, though.

Coté Writes said...

What a great story, Jennifer! It's so scary yet true that it's really hard to find people to look up to and put our faith in during this day in age. I also grew up with very few healthy adult relationships that I could look up to, and I think my husband and I constantly feel as though we're reinventing the wheel when it comes to our marriage, because we know how things technically should work, but we're also aware that it takes a whole lot more than just 'good old fashioned' family values to make it work for the long haul. I hope you are having a great week, my dear! -Coté

Kavery said...

I think the moral of this story is you have a wonderful dad who'd go to great lengths for his daughter which is the best thing yet! I feel sorry for the Perez family but like he said- 'America has them now'

Esmeralda said...

I really don't know whether your stories are made up or they are true stories!!! The only thing I know for sure is they are amazing!!!!

Katie said...

Your father's last quote is epic. Your story moved me.

There is a moral right, and that's that the wealthy men are probably going to be the one's most likely to cheat. Just kidding! Broken homes are not good to be trending, families are so important to a person and society.

Loved this post!!!

Damsels said...

i think its a good lesson for you and your father to see that not all mexican family's fit that sort of stereotype. i have learned in my life that some stereotypes are supposed tobe good but they are just as harmful as the badones. i am sure as an indian american you know what i mean.

i joke all the time with my bf about my big mexican family who is so "close" and all about family. its actually quite opposite. i think that our family is i similar to your adoptive family in that there was a huge traumatic event that spit everyone apart. not to mention that mexican families can be over partriarchal and fanatic about religion. nothing is ever as it seems.

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