I was only 16 when I met my birth family and didn’t yet understand the long-lasting impact that event would have on my life. So, as I look back at the past 20 years or so, I think about what advice I might give my younger self.
A few weeks ago, I met this amazing human, Priscila, who is also from El Salvador 🇸🇻 and is working at the summer camp I went to and worked at for 14 years, Camp Frank A. day.
We only chatted for a little while, but it was a wonderful experience. She reminds me so much of my cousins and even lives not too far from where I was born and where my birth parents met!
There's just something about knowing someone from El Salvador is working at camp that puts a huge smile on my face. I'm not entirely sure why either because for most of my life, I never really identified as Salvadoran or felt a strong connection to my country of birth.
But working on my autobiographical novel and documentary film has changed that.
As I've gotten to know more about what my family experienced during the war and how it affected our lives, I've started to feel more Salvadoran than ever. Not because of some shared cultural heritage, but because we share this difficult and often tragic past.
I know all too well that life in El Salvador and life for Salvadorans isn't always easy, and maybe that's why it makes me so happy to know Priscila is working at camp.
Camp is where I grew up and made incredible friends and memories that will last a lifetime. It's also where I met my wife, Rachael! But more than that, it is a place that has provided an escape. An escape from the sometimes emotionally challenging aspects of my life that I now associate with being Salvadoran.
It's a place where I could "dream with the angels and forget for a while." For over 30 years, it has been my home, my place of refuge, my "casita."
I don't know if camp will ever mean as much to Priscila as it does to me, but it warms my heart to know that someone else from our tiny little country gets to experience the magic that is summer on the shores of Quacumquasit.