by Kenia Basagoytia from LISTOS
Published in the 2006-2007 WITS Anthology Mostly What I’m Made Of
My name is Kenia Quesia Basagoytia. I am 15 years old. I turn 16 December 10th 2007. I am a teen mother. My son’s name is Gabriell Levi Alexander Hernandez. He turned a year old March 14th 2007. That means I got pregnant at age 13, but I turned 14 during pregnancy. When he was 9 months I turned 15. I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably wondering how it happened. Well my life hasn’t been perfect.
When I was little my mom use to beat me and my brother. His name’s Alex Rene Basagoytia. We had a little sister, too, but for some reason she never got spanked or beaten. Well I wouldn’t really call it “spanked” because she would use whatever she could find to hit us, like shoes, belts, extension cords, sticks, brooms. She had a bad temper. For example if we didn’t want to go to church or we misbehaved in church, she would beat us.
But my mom had a hard life too. She really didn’t go to school because she had a big family and they were poor…I’m talking about dirt floors poor. She had seven or eight brothers and sisters and her youngest brother died. She worked at age seven to help her parents. And then she got older and found a job cleaning offices and that’s how she met my dad. They started seeing each other. A year later she got pregnant with my brother and 4 months later she got pregnant with me. Her mom said that if she got pregnant without being married she was dead to her, so she moved in with my dad. But my dad had a wife and three kids that my mom didn’t know about. In El Salvador, when you’re a dentist, you make a lot of money. So my dad kept my mom at one house and his wife at another. Then somehow my mom found out about his double life and she didn’t want anything to do with him. She wanted him to buy her a plane ticket so she could come to the U.S.A. He said, “The only way you’re leaving me with my son and my unborn child is if I kill you,” and he took a gun out and hit her with it. It accidentally fired and a bullet grazed her head. Then she came to the U.S.A, and then I was born and she met my step dad, they fell in love and got married. Five years later my mom had my little sister. I also remember when my mom was pregnant this guy broke into our apartment and stabbed my mom. My step dad wasn’t there because he was at work. I also remember when I was seven or eight, my step dad and a couple of my uncles got arrested for selling drugs to a narco (undercover cop). He got deported and we had to borrow money from people for two or three months until he got back. I remember seeing them do weird things like crushing up white powder. And I was curious so I went into their room when they weren’t there and I found a gun and I found lots of drugs like weed, crystal meth, crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, acid-all the drugs you can think of. I was little. I didn’t know what it was, but now I do.
And I know you probably have a big question mark in your head. When my mom and my step dad broke up she got a job, but she worked graveyard shift. My step dad didn’t care what I did because I wasn’t his responsibility. We stopped going to church and I finally had time to kick it with my homegirls. The only problem was I didn’t have a way to get ahold of them, till one day I was walking to the park and they were all there. We started kicking it a lot and well we all started smoking and drinking. I never got caught doing it because I would only do it when I was staying the night at my home girl’s house. Until one day I couldn’t stay at my home girl’s house so we had no choice but to go to my house. I went home and I got caught. My mom had this long talk with me. She told me that if I kept doing what I was doing, I would either end up in jail, dead, or pregnant. My mom knew every thing I was doing. She new I was in a gang. She knew I did weed and crystal meth. She knew I had an alcohol problem. She knew. At first I was just kicking it with my homegirls. They weren’t that bad, but then I started kicking it with my brother’s homeboys. They were gang members.
I liked it. I wanted in so they jumped me. That’s when they beat the mess out of you for as long as you can take. I took 13 minutes exactly. How much time do you need to do to be officially in the gang? I got jumped into a hood called Sur Trese Locoz. My nickname was Lil Gigglez. My mom was really worried about me. She didn’t know what to do. I would only come home to take a shower, change my clothes and get money so I could go get high or buy alcohol. Sometimes I would stay the night at my house but only because I was going to sneak out to one of my homeboys’ houses.
I would always get caught for being out past curfew. I had lots of those on my record, and I also had a lot of Minor in Possession (M.I.P). Finally I caught doing something big with my hood. I got 18 months’ probation and 48 hours’ community service. I got into a fight. I caused a riot and I trespassed on private property.
Well, that day was the day I got together with my son’s dad. Then a month later I found out I was pregnant, so I stopped the gang banging, I stopped the drugs and alcohol and I turned my life around. Just like my mom warned me, I had got pregnant. Now that I’m clean and sober I can think clearer. I got a reality check, and yeah, I do wish I would have listened to my mom because I know I hurt her and I know she’s had a hard life too. All the stories she’s told me, they affected my life too, like I feel like I wasn’t worth anything to my dad because he hasn’t even tried to keep in touch, like I barley even know his name.
But like I said, I wish I would have listened to my mom because it’s hard taking care of a baby, but I am happy God blessed me with a child or else I think I would be in jail or dead. So I thank God for giving me my son-he’s my inspiration for everything. Everything I do is for him.
So for you girls out there trying to be bad, I hope this story inspires you to change your life around. Still to this day we all remain a happy family.
Oregon Book Awards Fiction and Poetry Finalists reading
April 25, 2018
Featuring: manuel arturo abreu Omar El Akkad Samiya Bashir Allison Cobb Stephen…
April 26, 2018
Come celebrate Portland’s creative youth during our seventh annual Verselandia! poetry slam.
Oregon Book Awards Ceremony 2018
April 30, 2018
Join Literary Arts’ annual celebration of the state’s most accomplished writers in…
Memoir Students End of Year Reading
May 6, 2018
A reading featuring students from Jay Ponteri’s year long memoir class: Matthew…
Dao Strom, Shayla Lawson, Elena Passarello
May 9, 2018
In partnership with the Northwest Academy Visiting Writing Series Shayla Lawson is (and…
Words That Burn: Staged Reading
May 15, 2018
Words That Burn brings to life the distinctive voices of conscientious objector William…