I thought I’d write a three part series, first, on how I got to where I am, who I am today, and who I’d like to become. At some point, someone is going to question why they should invest their time in my content. This series will hopefully be part of the answer to that question.
Here it goes…
Birth to Moving to the East Coast
My parents are originally from Northern California. My roots stem from Mexico although only one of my grandparents was born there. When my dad decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a surgeon he left a few short months after high school to attend medical school in Mexico City. My parents married while he pursued his education and soon after I came along. I was born in a small clinic in Mexico City.
So yes, I’m chilango.
After my dad finished medical school he was obligated to complete years of social service as part of receiving his medical degree in Mexico so my parents moved closer to the U.S. border. It was humble beginnings as my dad worked in Mexico. My parents and I eventually moved north of the border as my dad continued to complete his service. Ultimately, by the time I was 5 years of age my parents moved to the San Diego area and it is there that my earliest memories begin.
By the summer of 1981 my dad found a residency program. After opting to not move my mom, siblings, and I to a large, urban setting he chose an opening in Wilmington, North Carolina at New Hanover Hospital (now New Hanover Regional Medical Center). I can still remember the cross country drive with my dad driving the U-Haul, my sister, brother, and I crowded in the front seat and my mom enduring the summer heat in the AC-less 1979 Mazda Station wagon.
Elementary School to Traveling Abroad
My family lived in North Carolina from 1980 until we returned to California in the early 2000’s. Although most of that time was in Wilmington we did live in Chapel Hill from 1986-1988.
My education started by my attending private schools through 6th grade. The first four years were at Wilmington Christian Academy and the latter two were Catholic parochial schools split between Wilmington and Chapel Hill. I believe that the elementary schools I attended and my Catholic faith play a big part of who I am today. By going to private faith-based schools in the south I grew up saying yes ma’am, yes sir, and respecting my elders and authority. Integrity, respect, caring for others, and similar character traits became part of me. At an early age, even though I had no idea what it was, ethics and living a life I would be proud to share with my children was just part of who I was and wanted to be.
So yes, I’m a Tar Heel raised with Catholic values and southern virtues.
I completed high school and went to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I entered school thinking that I’d earn my degree in Marine Biology (after visiting Sea World as a kid I thought I wanted to swim with Shamu and get paid to go SCUBA dive). Chemistry 101 derailed me. I struggled as a student and found myself making B’s and C’s as opposed to the high marks I made in high school. I turned to the one thing I knew I enjoyed and that was travel. Between my freshman and sophomore years my parents encouraged and funded my initial study abroad trip. Due to my missing the application deadline for the university’s Costa Rica trip I ended up going to Ecuador which included a few days in the Galapagos. That trip was a pivotal point in my life and is what lead me to my BA in Spanish. Well, it was that and I had no I idea what I wanted to do professionally, I was stinking up my science and math classes, and I figured a degree in Spanish wouldn’t hurt.
By the end of my college career and the few years after I managed to visit Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, UK, and the Canary Islands . I loved Spain so much that after working in Wilmington briefly after graduating I decided to return to Spain. Looking back I never recognized at that time how much I was costing my parents but they agreed to let me go and supported me financially. I spent April ’99 to June 2000 hopping between Santander, Salamanca, and Madrid.
So yes, I love to travel and, at least at one time, considered myself a citizen of the world.
June 2000 arrived and for various personal reasons, plus my time freeloading off my parents had come to an end, I returned to the USA. Soon after I made the hard decision to leave North Carolina.