Family,  How did I get here

How Did I Get Here: From Rural Girl to City Gal

September 2020 – I haven’t told a story in a while. Many times, these memories become pointers for reference to how to move on, or become ways to understand how our past shapes our lives. I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Well, let me tell you how I went from the rural, community school to the big school in my hometown; until the moment I moved to the city to go to college. I went from country girl to city gal. I didn’t accomplish many goals I had set for myself, but I managed to accomplish surviving and growing into the adult I am today.

Once upon a time, when I was young and naive… hmm I think I’m still at that stage… maybe not so young, not so naive. Let’s see, do you remember being an adolescent? Do you remember your first crush? Do you remember when you wanted to do something on your own, but your parents didn’t approve? Or when you wanted to go somewhere and you had to take your younger siblings with you? Do you have kids who are adolescents? Remember when you were that age?

Growing up and turning into an adolescent feels like a great accomplishment. It is. The body changes, your looks change, your voice changes. Your understanding of what goes on in the world changes. Adolescents start expressing their own opinions, especially when most of them have access to the internet and information from all over the world. That’s the bridge from childhood to adulthood.

When we were kids, my siblings and I, we had the great chance to go to the big schools in our hometown. Going to the big school in town was a fantastic, but also a terrifying, experience (at least for me). You don’t know the other kids, you don’t know the teachers. Most of the kids from my six grade class (sixth grade was part of elementary grade) were headed to the community school. I was headed to a new adventure, not knowing what I would find.

I had a difficult time adjusting. I come from a house where I was the older sister, and I got along with both boys and girls (I got to boss them around). I went from a small school, knowing everyone around (teachers, and schoolmates), to a big school, with older kids, knowing barely anyone. I started feeling nervous, which later on as an adult I realized this nervousness was anxiety.

You’re trying to fit in, to see what to do, who seems nice, who’s approachable, who wants to be my friend. I was younger than most kids in my classroom. Since my birthday is in November, my mom signed me up for the first grade at the age of five. So, yes, in middle school, I was the awkward “little” girl that looked like I belonged in the elementary school rather than a middle school, where most of the girls looked like they were young adults. Thinking about this, makes me think about any time you start a new job. You just try to fit in.

My ninth grade graduation, sharing a moment with my mom.

From seventh to ninth grade, the experiences we gained and everything we learned was really amazing. I gained so many good friends. I managed to adapt and survive the middle school. You think I’m being dramatic, but middle school was a huge hurdle to overcome. I wouldn’t have done it, without those good friends I made.

Left: 9th grade portrait. Right, 12th grade portrait.

You feel confident, you know the teachers, and think you have the hang of things, guess what… it’s time to move on, it’s time to go to high school. Since overcoming the challenges of middle school, I felt better about going to high school. I knew most of the kids, I reconnected with my friends from elementary school, who now came to the same school. I still got to meet new kids from other middle schools.

What all of us didn’t realize is what happened next. These are the years we spent sharing everyday situations with our school friends, without realizing that soon we were to part ways, not to see each other again. Maybe until the next reunion. Maybe until we manage to go back into town.

High School Drama Club! This was so much fun. I’m fourth from the left.

Oh, before moving on, let me tell you about the boys. Yes, the boys! Getting to know boys, and learning that a certain boy liked you, or having a crush on a boy and having him come to say hello or smile at you, yes, I went through that too. One funny memory I have was of my friend Lisette, while in middle school, asking a boy in our classroom about another boy (because I had a huge crush on him), and that boy responding that his friend had a crush on me! (Nothing ever happened, we did talk in class, but he never asked me out, and at that time I would’ve said no. I had strict parents, “boyfriends are to get married”.)

Memories from prom night.

I did have a boyfriend in high school, my first and only boyfriend at school. He managed to become my friend and managed to win my heart. Josué was a always a sweetheart (I believe he still is). I did go to prom with him. I did break his heart when I went to college far from town and we parted ways. Many times I have thought of the “what ifs”. We have not spoken since then. But I do keep really good memories of my first relationship.

Memory of high school graduation night. With my friend Jose Guevara

It was time to decide what to do after high school. My mind was already made. I had decided to go to San Juan. My intentions were good, my motives were all wrong. I wanted to get an education, yes. But I wanted to get out of my parent’s house, be on my own. (What do you think you know when you are 17.)

My parents wanted me to go to college closer to home. I wish I had listened. No, I wanted to go to San Juan. I wanted to be on my own. I managed to get excellent grades, so my parents allowed my request and I did get to move to San Juan. Thinking about my experience now, I wish I had stayed home or had gone to a closer, smaller campus. Maybe I’d focused on my classes better. Maybe I’d picked a better option for my major. Who knows. I sure don’t know.

Moving from a rural town to the big city was another challenge. You go back to learning to adapt, and back to knowing new people. Out of my parent’s house, you go to manage your own schedule, what you eat, how you send your money… yes, your money!

I was, once again, on my own with no friends in sight. I chose a private dorm house. We were four people per room, on two bunk beds. I was already used to sleeping with my sisters in the same room. My roommates were two other first year students and one junior. One of my roommates turned out to be a good friend from my hometown, same high school! We were all from rural towns and we all had siblings. We got along instantly.

Freshman year, freshman faces!

Being away from my family, gave me a sense of “I can do this”. I did it. I managed to survive my first year of college. But it was all because I relied on the support of my friends. I found good friends, I also found friends who were not as good.

I gained a best friend for life while in college, my good friend Ruth (left)

I didn’t finish college at that time. I dropped out, I panicked. Things were not going as well as I wanted. I finished my degree many years later. But I did stay in San Juan. I managed to find a job and pay for rent. It was not easy. My sister Lilly and my cousin Aura came to San Juan to go to college and lived with me. We survived together. That surely brought us closer than ever.

Okay, there are parts of this story that I’m skipping, yes, there are heartaches that crushed me, broke my heart. But, I picked up the pieces and moved on. And now those are just memories. Things that needed to happen. I did enjoy being on my own. I learned many lessons of who to trust. Maybe I’ll tell you someday.

I have more stories to tell you. Many more stories, about me, about others. The after-college experiences got me to where I am today. How did I get to the Sunshine State? And I’m reaching out to others to know their stories. How did I get here? I’ll tell you more soon. Now it’s time for my tacita de café. ¡Salud!

Para versión en español, vea

I'm a Puerto Rican living in Florida. Mom, Blogger, and Writer! Fan of coffee, baseball, books, sweet romance novels and Hallmark movies, and of course, my beautiful Puerto Rico.


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