In the third grade my classroom got moved to the upper floor of our school where there was a hallway that connected my wing of the building to the high school. Every morning I stood in that hallway listening for my brother’s voice echoing the morning announcements. My teacher would call me into class, but I dragged my feet until he signed off, clinging to the words he said. I was proud that that was my brother—the voice of the school. I was always a shy, quiet kid, but his voice felt like mine in those moments. It gave me comfort and I felt like I had a place at the school being related to him and my other brother Santi. They were carving a path for me; setting a precedent since it was, and still is, hard for me to claim my own space, to make enough noise and make an impression.
That year the high schoolers put on a haunted house for us younger kids. I knew most of the actors and they targeted me because of my brothers—it’s the only time I actually enjoyed a haunted house. Even in the scary environment, I felt as if I were in on the joke.
I felt protected by the presence of my brothers at my school. Not even in that I could go to them whenever, but in that I knew their friends; that they knew me. It gave me confidence, and when we moved to the US a year later, and the three of us ended up at different schools, I was on my own for the first time ever.