The Story of Me, Part I: Pudgy Baby

Yes, I was a Pudgy Baby! Don't Judge!

I was really touched today by people who reached out to me yesterday and today about my blog post yesterday and my blog re-post from last year. It really means a lot to me to have people like you in my life. Mental Hugs for everyone especially you, Malinda! 🙂

I figured I already alluded to one chapter that is the story of my life. Why not talk about the entire book of my life and how I am the person I am.

Well it all began when I was on the Planet Tatooine where I grew up on a moisture farm with my Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru where I aspired to be a Jedi/Rebel Fighter like my father… OK, that is bullshit. That is the story of Luke Skywalker. Also everyone knows, Han Solo was much more awesomer than Luke!

I was born on April 9 , 1983 at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. The son of Vincent and Matilda Romero.  Two young Puerto Rican kids who met each other in a chance encounter at my grandfather’s store when my dad was looking for a friend. Apparently, they really hit off cause they “knocked da boots”  and gave birth to good lil’ pudgy me… Ok on second thought, the thought of my parents doing it gives me the creeps… let me move this along!

I was originally named, Travis Romero until my dad pleaded with my mom to NOT name me Travis and offered her to name the next kid any name she wanted. One of the few times, my dad won and I am grateful! Seriously, do I look like a Travis Romero? “Hey Travie, What’s up holmes?”… See what I mean.

It was pretty unanimous when everyone gazed eyes on me… I was a lil fat baby, cute though I had a lot of baby fat. I blame the Carbs and Gerber for making a really good applesauce! Even as a baby I was a foodie though I almost choked to death on a steak I tried to bite until my Uncle Angel slapped my back and got the piece loose.

My parents lived in a pre-Hipster/Stroller Mom Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, which was really crummy in the Mid-80’s and had Coke Addicts as opposed to the Oxycontin/Pabst/Baby/Kardashian addicts living there now.

My parents decided to move to Bay Ridge, a suburb of Brooklyn. A good place to raise a family. My dad to move us there, made a pretty big sacrifice at a young age for his family. He decided to take a 2nd job as our apartment building’s Superintendent in order to make sure we had a good life because the rent was free.

My dad had a horrible upbringing, his dad was a piece of shit abuser who deserted his family while his mom struggled raising the kids by herself in the housing projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He saw a lot of bad things like alcohol/drug addiction, crime, etc and it was dominant in his own family. My dad vowed to be a better dad that his father was and raise a family.

I think it’s safe to say…He kept that vow. My father’s father is not even a ounce of a man my dad is and never will.

My father is a great man, A “George Bailey” for the current day. A selfless man who will give you the shirt off of his back if he could. None of us ever missed a meal and got everything we could ask for in a father.

My dad is funny, lovable and smarter than he really thinks he is. He is a blue-collar guy. I look like him, though I am the prettier one! When you met my dad, you can’t help but immediately like him. I have tons of memories of him and me watching Basketball on sundays which was one of the rare days he didn’t have to worry about working. I always like to jibe him with sarcastic one-liners which makes him wanna hit me upside the head with his rolled-up newspaper (which he is never without… he loves to read the newspaper…how primitive) especially when it comes to how “caveman” he is with computers, smartphones, etc.

My father instilled in me a sense of humility, honor, love and most importantly hard work. My dad works like 5-6 jobs (his main job, building supt and caretaker jobs) to this day when he doesn’t need especially since he has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Because of his illness, I have made it a point to do as much as I can to help with taking care of the building when I can when I am not at work. The least I can do for the man who sacrifices his health for his family.

Behind every great man, there is a great woman usually around. That is my mom. My mom grew up in a big family in the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn. My mom’s upbringing was slightly different. More normal than my dad’s though It had it’s own issues especially with her parents who constantly had problems until they got divorced years later.  My mom was pretty much the rock of her sibilings to her parents. Always steady and dutiful like my dad.

My mom’s face should be in the definition of the dictionary for “Mother” or atleast, the Wikipedia page for it. My mom is a rock. While she was only a homemaker, most of her life, she was pretty smart and had to raise three different kids at the same time. She is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) of Homemakers.

Always cleaned, cooked great meals, made sure we did our homework or that me and my brother didn’t kill each other reenacting WWF moves we saw on TV. She was very active in our education to the point she became a “Parent Advocate” for the Board of Education because how well she fought the system to get the best help for me when I had my developmental problems.

My mom is very cultured, more book smart, always someone with the times considering how mastery of her Amazone Kindle Fire I got her for X-Mas. My dad doesn’t even know how to turn it on. She’s dedicated to family like my dad is and also would give up the shirt on her back for anyone else. Me and her like to watch 80’s movies. Her favorite movie, she will drop everything to watch was “Overboard” with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

I learned how to be strong and supportive from her. She recently had to deal a lot with the death of My Uncle David (who she visited and cared for everyday she could), my dad’s illness and even her knee injury after falling down some stairs.

When I was only 3 years old and my parents despite being still young and not well off then financially took in my cousin, Tony. My Uncle Felix had struggled with drug addiction with his then girlfriend. When she gave birth to Tony, they realized they could not provide a home for Tony.

My parents took him in as a baby, which tells you the type of people they are. Tony and I were raised as brothers together. He IS my brother. My uncle eventually got clean and has been cleaned for the last 20 years raising a family, as well and Tony is part of his life though Tony does consider my dad as his father, which he should.

My brother, Tony is kind of a wild card. He’s a troublemaker. Memories of me chasing him around PS 102 to get him back to class with his classroom always are there. He’s not a bad person, not at all, far from it. He just is immature though he has made strides recently and is a National Guard Reservist and works as a Helper at The Guild for disabled people.

We are completely different people but we have a lot of shared interests.

He loves sports as much as me and is an athlete who could play anything. We always watched action/horror/kung fu movies a lot in our rooms and have epic video games showdowns though he really could lose his shit when he is losing in a Video Game to the point I feel like he’s about to toss the PS3 out the window. He is a selfless person, everyone in the neighborhood knows to not mess with me or our little sister cause he has a rep and he will kick anyone’s ass if that happened.

Eventually came the baby of the family and last of my siblings

My sister, Ashley. Who my mom got to name as part of the deal (if it was another boy, he would have been named Travis… whew). Ashley is the baby of the family.

My sister is a completely different person as me, as well.

She’s still trying to find herself in life. I am very protective of her as should all big brothers could be. She’s in college right now, I think she is leaning becoming a teacher.

She is a girly girl who likes clothes, Gossip Girl, shopping, shopping, Girly movies…. She’s a girl!  Though she seems to be getting into watching football, which is a miracle in it’s self.

She takes after my mom, and always the fun one in the family as usually the youngest in the family is. She has a good boyfriend who is good to her (he better or me and my brother would kill him) and she a tight group of friends and has a friend who is kinda like the Kimmie Gibbler/Steve Urkel.. The annoying one WHO WILL NEVER LEAVE!

At a very early age of 4-6 I was pretty much a pop culture addict then. My toys were “My Little Monster” dolls, Tonka Trucks, My Buddy, I had a Nintendo though I cheated in Duck Hunt by getting to close to the screen (I did shoot gangsta style), had “Garbage Pail Kids” cards, an endless love of The Muppets, watched Coming to Ameruca Die Hard on HBO a gazillion times despite being 6! (one of the perks of my dad being a building super), has an insane memory for every cartoon I ever saw as a kid especially Ducktales, GI Joe, Transformers and Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

I loved sports instantly as a kid. One of my first memories was watching Michael Jordan hitting the infamous 3 against Craig Ehlo in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 1989 Playoffs, watching Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys winning the NBA Title, and having Sausage and Peppers heroes with my dad as we watched Super Bowl XXV in ’91 and saw Scott Norwood shank the winning kick and seeing the Giants win the Super Bowl with Jeff Hostetler.

I went to Catholic School initially, at Our Lady of Angels near my building though my parents immediately recognized “my problems” and moved me to a public school because the school was ill equipped to help kids like me then.

My parents made the Board of Ed’s life a living hell until they got me the help I needed: Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, a laptop computer (this giant Radio Shack Tandy Laptop that weighed a ton) for my bad handwriting and for me to be in a class/school with normal kids.

Oh and to conclude this first part of this 3-part blogpost… My insatiable love of 80’s music was cultivated. My mom always loved playing cassettes on our stereo whether it was Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Rick Astley, Billy Ocean…. I even did a music video of me lip-synching MC Hammer at Disney World behind though NO ONE will ever see it! Freaking Billy Ocean rules! I go ape shit whenever I hear “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”… It’s the greatest song ever about hitting on a girl with your car and a duck playing Saxophone.

That concludes Part I. Part II “Little Goob” will be coming in a few days!

-V. for Vinnie

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