It’s been about ten years since the last time I saw Maribel. I’ve grown so much since that day, I graduated high school and went to the University of Delaware with a full ride scholarship due to my great grades. It’s my Winter break and I always go back home to the old apartments. Although I was there just a couple months ago for my summer vacation, everything had already changed.I came back home on a train just like my brother Enrique would when he was in college. They picked me up in my dad’s Rabbit, the same one that he got years ago despite having been promoted and having a higher pay at the newspaper business he started working at ten years ago. My mom asked me so many questions about school and how I was doing in class, “ Ay mijo, you have to do your best so that you can get a great job like your brother Enrique”. I hadn’t seen my brother since he left the state to start his career which he never told us about. My relationship with my brother was normal, although we didn’t talk a lot we didn’t hate each other. On our way home, I noticed that my dad was smiling a lot and he seemed different now. He wasn’t angry all the time anymore and his relationship with my mom was getting a lot better.
There were already new neighbors living in Quisqueya’s apartment since she had moved just a month before according to my mom. Everyone was relieved about her moving out. When we made it home, I immediately noticed that the apartments had been remodeled a little bit to look like a nicer place. Everyone was having a good time and all of the neighbors were talking and having fun. The moment I walked up stairs, I started to remember and see myself walk over to Maribel’s old apartment looking for her. I always remember Maribel, and I always see her when I come back. Along with seeing her all around the apartments, guilt comes in from the feeling of being the reason her dad died. Despite having gone through therapy and allowing time to pass, I see Maribel and her dad every once in a while and they usually come with a heavy feeling of guilt. Questions about wanting to see Maribel pop up every now and then when I’m home, mostly from my parents.
The same people that moved into Maribel’s apartment a month after she left have been living there and have become a part of the community the apartments have created. A family of three moved in. the boy who lives there is my age and we hang out together when we come back from school every time. His name is Gerardo, but everyone calls him Jerry, he’s a nice kid, tall and skinny with glasses and wouldn’t hurt even a fly. We are always hanging out and talking about how great we’ve been doing in school. He’s the only one that knows that I have had a girlfriend since my Sophomore year. “So how are you and Beatriz doing Mayor? Have you made any moves on her, or even tried something?” He would always attack me with an onslaught of questions if I’ve ever done something or tried anything since I first told him the summer break I went back after I started dating her. “Where’s your Girlfriend Jerry? Did she run away from you when she saw how nasty your face is”. We always end up making fun of each other, although we never mean any of what we say. Our friendship grown so much since we first met, we used to never talk until we one Christmas everyone in the apartments came to my parents’ apartment like they do every year, and Jerry and I began talking about where we were going and we eventually started talking about what we liked eventually leading to our friendship growing.
Although it has been ten years since Maribel’s dad died, I still feel guilty for being a part of the reason he died. I have dreams about the day and seeing her dad go to Garrett’s house looking for Maribel and getting shot point-blank. It got so bad that at one point I decided to go to a therapist about it to try and get over the pain and distress over feeling guilty over his death. The therapy worked at first, but after I saw Maribel on Facebook and talking to her again it all came back. I still do talk to her every once in a while when I’m free, and I usually ask her how has she been and if she’s gotten better, “I’ve gotten a bit better, I’m working at a grocery store that my father-in-law owns and I help people look for things they can’t find.”. I told her about meeting a girl, and how she eventually became my girlfriend which I thought Maribel would have been sad about, but instead she answered with a, “Congrats Mayor! You better treat her well and I have to meet her to see if I like her for you”. Talking to Maribel somehow seemed to just make my guilt worse, although she is doing better than they did here. I felt as though if it wasn’t for me and my recklessness, then Sr. Rivera would still be alive and Maribel would probably still be here with me.
“ Hey Jerry, do you wanna go to the beach with me? I can borrow my dad’s Rabbit and we can go now,” I knew exactly where I wanted to go and why I wanted to go, but I didn’t tell Jerry a single thing because he would’ve said no to that. “ Which beach are we going to? And why are we going so late? It’s already fucking ten at night bro! You better not be going to the beach where you took Maribel or else I’ll beat your ass”! Of course he knew where I wanted to go, he always seemed to know what I was thinking about when I schemed or thought about Maribel. “ Just go with me Jerry. I need some company man”. Eventually he agreed but I had to buy him food on our way to the beach. Our trip to the beach was quick, and my dad even let me get back home as late as I wanted to because Jerry was there with me.
Once we made it to the beach, I saw the same exact beach that Maribel saw. The snow was covering all of the sand and the waves were bringing in the same scent that was in the air that day as well. All I could do was tear up and sit on the soft and sandy snow where I remembered sitting with Maribel. “Hey Mayor! Stop being a little baby, and grow up! I’m here and you have a girlfriend! You know that very well dude. She’s in Michoacan now and she probably has a boyfriend.” Jerry’s words resonated within me and reminded me that I had been living in the past and that I should accept that even though Sr. Rivera isn’t here anymore and although he died looking for Maribel, I should keep on living because even Maribel and her mom have moved on from their life with Sr. Rivera. I was finally able to understand that I was held back by my guilt when I should’ve moved on.
After the whole beach situation, I talked to Jerry about searching for my true Maribel. I wanted to find my own Maribel in someone that I know is not her. I want the perfect person that does not care about how unpopular I am and will be there for me no matter what. To me, Maribel was the perfect girl and although I won’t be able to be with her, I want to find someone that can be as close to her as possible. My current girlfriend isn’t perfect but she is close enough to Maribel. I will continue to search for my Maribel that will make me feel special and perfect.
Mayor has always seemed like the type of person to worry about many things depending
on how they are. He seems to be a boy that regardless of how much time passes by, he will always remember everything that happened. In the years following the events of the book, Mayor would most likely develop a sort of PTSD due to his constant worrying about everyone and how the book ended with him feeling guilty about Sr. Rivera’s death. After Maribel left, Mayor had no one but his friends William and Jerry and school so instead of worrying about anyone else, he started working on getting his grades up and going to a good university. For the rest of his time in high school, Mayor focused on doing his best even if Garrett was there to try and bully him. Although Garrett still went to school for a while, he was sent to juvenile prison after getting into a fight with one his teachers and would stay there for a long time. With Garrett also out of the picture, Mayor was able to get everything done in high school without being bullied or focusing on someone that isn’t him. His decision to go to the University of Delaware was because it was one of the closer universities that was great for his major which he does not want anyone to know until he gets his Masters degree.
As for Jerry and his family, they are Mexicans that came from Sinaloa a month after Maribel left the US. Jerry is Mayor’s age and they became instant friends when they first talked at a Christmas party that is held every year at the Toros’ house with everyone living in the apartment complex invited. They first started talking about school and how they were doing, then they quickly connected over talking about their favorite comics and what they would read. They would eventually become best friends over the passing years of high school and they continue to talk no matter what. Their relationship is extremely close and know almost everything about the other. At times Jerry seems to know exactly what Mayor knows as he does know that Mayor is pushed by his emotions. Shortly after meeting Jerry, William left the picture as he hated the fact that Mayor had a new friend who Mayor liked way more than William. Jerry and Mayor’s friendship is like Mayor and William’s, they use nerdy references and are rude to each other. “[ That’s it, young Jedi. Go forth and prosper]”( Henriquez.. 226). Along with the references, they still trash talk to each other just like any friend would. Mayor’s girlfriend, although not a part of the chapter was a great deal of help to Mayor. She made sure that Mayor was able to focus and she knows everything about Mayor. She would help him when he was down and made sure that he didn’t forget where he came from and that he shouldn’t give up.
The change of how the apartments look was inspired by how quickly things change, since Mayor hadn’t been home in a while and change is a natural thing. The apartments all got slight remodels as they made them more modern and all of the appliances are more polished and useful to the residents. Not only did they remodel the actual apartments, but the sidewalk and pathways around the complex were filled and fixed to be more smooth and not as hidden to avoid what happened to Maribel again. Soon after the remodeling and changing, came Jerry’s family and they united everyone making sure everyone in the apartment complex was like family. They insisted on making a positive community so that everyone would protect one another.
The whole premise of making this new chapter was to give Mayor a better ending and a suitable finish to his childhood and Maribel. Although he would suffer from a sort of PTSD effect due to feeling guilty over Sr. Rivera’s death, it led him to therapy and eventually accepting that life moves on. In an article by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, they explain children can have PTSD and the way it can happen which include, “… exposure to community violence; war; peer suicide; and sexual and physical abuse”(Hamblen). Mayor developed this due to his guilt and him seeing all of this violence that led him to see everything all over again. At the beach with Jerry, Mayor was able to move on and he then went on to seek more help that his therapist recommended him to take. Mayor grew up a lot from the ten years that passed by, he would search for his true Maribel without going back to Maribel.
Hamblen, Jessica. “PTSD in Children and Adolescents .” US Department of Veterans Affairs, www.georgiadisaster.info/Schools/fs%207%20school/PTSD%20in%20Children%20&%20Adolescents.pdf.
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, a Division of Random House LLC, 2015.