This past weekend my attention was once again brought back to 1983. I read that the US Supreme Court nominee graduated from high school, a well-heeled prep school, in 1983. When images of him out of his high school yearbook appeared along with photos of him at the beach, and in a group photo with friends, the same images shot up for me . . . high school year book, photos from time spent at the beach with friends and so many group photos with friends at school or at parties, times that for me are some of the best days of my life. I often tell people that growing up in South Texas, just 30 minutes from the beach and a walk away from Mexico was the place to be born and grow up. Contrary to popular belief, Brownsville is not a third world country, people speak English in Brownsville (along with Spanish and often Tex-Mex), and I am happy to brag that Brownsville has some of the best schools anywhere. Afterall, if Brownsville did not produce well-educated graduates, how the heck did I end up attending one of those colleges back east at one of those ivy covered, red brick, colonial style campuses tucked away between Dartmouth, south of Canada, north of Boston. The summer of 1983 I decided I would not be attending UT in Austin and instead was determined to get out of Texas and study somewhere I had never been before and had only read about in books or seen on T.V. I left friends I had grown up with, played sports with, swam with, attended church with, studied and learned with . . . I wish I could tell you that all was peachy upon leaving Brownsville but it was not in large part because one of my friends has attempted to commit suicide that summer while she was away at camp. Part of the reason she made the gesture, as per her note, was that I was leaving Brownsville and I was leaving her. I was one of very few people that she had disclosed a lifetime of sexual abuse to, sexual abuse at the hands of her adopted brother, sexual abuse at the hands of my classmate. I was one of the even fewer people that believed her. When I learned of her abuse, she also told me that her mother and father knew of the abuse. She knew they were told to get her to a psychiatrist, medicate her and not to discuss their “family situation” with anyone. I listened. Then I decided to tell my mother.
Continue reading about Rosie’s Fall 1983 in the next issue. Manguera Memories is a series of short stories that will be published in a book this year with proceeds benefiting La Prensa Texas. Read past stories at LaPrensaTexas.com.