Looking back at when I was a little girl, the first memory that I can recall ever having (that is the moment in which I knew that I was alive) was one that foreshadowed the rest of my life. I was about four and a half years old and I remember waking up on the cold cement floor of my mother’s room. I was covered with a thin sheet that one of the 13 people in our small three roomed house must have graciously placed upon me. I remember my mother’s room being very familiar to me, but being that this was my first memory I only had the sense of familiarity, and not the true realization of where I was.
I remember it being very cold on that cement floor. The sheet that wrapped me provided no comfort from the bare, chilly floor that just a few months before had been stripped of its carpet. I remember waking up with a jolt, as though I had had a bad dream, but I don’t recall being afraid or even shaken. When I woke up my hair was still partly pulled back in our family’s traditional long braid; a braid that I would wear until I was eight years old. I recall waking up next to my mother’s bed, the bed that I usually slept in every day along with one of my sisters and my aunt, but for some reason that day I was on the floor. I also remember there being an empty pizza box next to me. The box was more than likely from dinner the previous night. It smelled strongly of pepperoni and old cheese.
When I woke up I surveyed my surroundings. Fifteen was the age that I first recalled having this memory; it was also the first time that I really saw the room for what it was, poor. The room had nothing of value or interest in it. For the most part it was simple to the point of emptiness. Taking up the majority of the room was our king size mattress that laid upon two other torn and tattered ones. Even though the mattress was pushed up firmly against the far wall it still took up more than three fourths of the room. Opposite the mattress was a terribly scratched and beaten clothes drawer that held the only television set that my family would own for a while. My sister was sleeping next to my mom and my aunt; all of them where covered in the thick, warm, dark blue blankets my grandmother had brought over from Mexico. None of them felt the cold wind rushing in from the broken window that was right next to them, but I did.
When I was four and a half years old I remember waking up on the cold cement floor of my mother’s room, covered with nothing but a thin stained sheet, next to three torn mattress and an old pizza box. Now I am twenty years old, a sophomore in college. I am one of the few people in my family to graduate high school, and to have the privilege and honor of studying at a university. When I was four and a half years old I remember waking up on the cold and dirty cement floor, but I also remember getting off of the floor, dusting myself off, and climbing back in to the snuggly warm bed. I had to push some people in order to make room for myself in the bed but I was able to claim a nice and comfy spot next to my mom. The last thing I remember of that day, right before I fell back to sleep, my mommy put her arms around me. She kissed my forehead, and unconsciously said “I’m proud of you.” This I believe: my past does not determine my future; it merely serves as motivation to keep going.