I was 12 when my twin brother, and I moved in with our father in Reno, Nevada. My mother had driven us across the country to see him once before. After three exhausting days on the road, where we lived off pork rinds and Snickers bars and Pepsi, she got out of her Buick to see the woman my father had abandoned her for saying hello from his balcony. We didn’t stay long.
Things were different this time. My brother and I were the only ones left; my new girlfriend had moved on. My father moved into a small, shabby house on the outskirts the city with his two mutts. Although he claimed he moved to be closer to nature, I believe it was more due to my mother’s witty remarks about his girlfriend and the fact that firefighters were required to save his apartment from being destroyed by fire.
If you don’t count the dogs, I was the only woman in our tiny home. According to the Puerto Rican bible, the majority of the cooking was done by me.
My father’s kitchen had a small refrigerator that I could use to dust the top of without getting on my tippy toes. The sink was about the size of a small salad bowl. It was next to a small drying rack where my father kept his mismatched plates and empty Imperial margarine containers he used for leftovers. There were two ovens large enough to make one pizza at a time and there were two coiled stove burners.
I had limited skills in the kitchen so my home-cooked meals were a mix of eggs cooked with hot dogs, soft-boiled, and scrambled. The eggs were then stuffed into tortillas and stirred into instant ramen, where they turned into pale yellow ribbons. All my father asked was that we allow him to have a glass of Carlo Rossi Burgundy after he returned from FedEx. He would then repeat his favorite mantras: “The prophecies about Nostradamus have been fulfilled” and “Visualize your life I didn’t really care that much about Nostradamus but I could visualize my life multiple times per day. When I was a teenager, I used to daydream about my first kiss with George Michael. I knew with all my heart that I would marry him. I had no money, but I knew I had to buy his latest solo album, Faith, to get him to walk down the aisle. It was the only way I could propose without it. I could see George looking at the Debbie Gibson and Michael Jackson cassette tapes, his lips pouting as he sang:
“When that kind of love falls apart without devotion, it takes a strong woman, baby. But I’m showing you the way. Because you shoulda bought Faith, Faith, Faith.”
If I didn’t get that album, my whole life would be derailed, I explained to my father with my hand outstretched for cash. I was greeted with a happy smile. “Mija! Money doesn’t grow in trees. Find out what people want .”
and then sell it The kids at the trailer park loved sweets. A bag of candy can cause chaos at the playground. But a brownie or cookie will make everyone happy. When I came across a recipe for peanut-butter cookies in an old newspaper, it was obvious that it could make a lot of money. My father had all the ingredients in stock, so it only required three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar and eggs.