Bear with me here, publicly talking about myself is still somewhat difficult for me, just trying to get some much-needed catharsis.

For the past fourteen months, I’ve been driven by a promise and all my efforts have thus been focused on fulfilling it, pushing for a dream long in the making while at it. The closure of embassies and all the things that have occurred in this country since January 2019 have drastically altered my original escape plans—which is why I’m now playing what could very well be my last hand.

Here we stand, my brother and I together, united as a team of socially inept individuals, with our heads up despite everything that’s happened. We are at the threshold of a change in our lives, a change that I’ve been pushing for years now, one that I very much desire for us, for it will be the start of something great—the start of a new life away from all the hardships we’ve faced ever since we moved to this city in 1999.

It hasn’t been easy and more often that once everything has felt uphill; from exasperating delays, having to obtain documents (with the amazing feat of getting them without having to bribe my way towards them and bleeding out our escape funds in the process), to other unforeseen complications that have slowed down progress in crucial goals.

During these past weeks I’ve been caught in a mental loophole, reminiscing and pondering about myself and about past events, trying to summarize all of my mistakes and sins in order to learn from my stumbles and to improve for the better, to make sure that I do not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

More often than not, you can pinpoint a moment in your life that marks a significant before and after in your story—one that can either herald a shining new chapter, or a foggy and turbulent one. There’s also key moments and choices, often done or carried out without you being able to have a say in them, that thrart what would’ve been the start of something great.

There’s a couple of recurring suppositional “What ifs” that have exerted a considerable burden on my mind quite some time now. Splinters in my head that I can’t pull out, I will most likely never obtain a proper answer to these questions.

In December 1993 my family was ready to migrate to America in search of a better life; my grandmother had sold almost everything she had in order to have funds for the journey, we had our visas in order and even celebrated New Years in Miami. That also happened to be the first time I watched Power Rangers, through the hotel room’s tv months before it aired in Venezuela.

What it could've been.

I was days away from turning six at the time so don’t remember much from the travel; my mother had already received a job offer at Jackson Memorial—heck, I was already ready enrolled in a school and was set to begin in January. Alas, things weren’t meant to be. A bank run caused my grandmother to lose all of her savings. in addition to that, family drama pushed everyone towards the difficult choice of returning to Venezuela.

What if we had stayed despite all that happened during those days? I will never know. Then again chances are my brother would had never been born—and I don’t know what I would be today without him.

The biggest “What if” of my life is the one that constantly weights me down the most by far: What if we had never moved to Caracas in 1999?

1998 is the last time I had a semblance of a normal life, I was a happy wee lad with my close band of pals in Marist school. I had my first kiss on that year, and when the popular girl in my classroom gave me another towards the end of the year well, it felt good.

A series of circumstances and the pursuit of wellbeing caused a chain reaction that pushed my mother to make the choice of moving to Caracas in early 1999. It all centered around a new job, while it was well remunerated it meant that we had to start all over for the third time in less than a decade.

It was a choice that wasn’t taken lightly, we could no longer stay in the really good apartment my mom rented at the time because the owners decided to sell it. I instantly went from having my own room to sleeping on the floor sharing a very limited space with the rest of the family, something that lasted a few years. 

And so we went, I left my friends and the first love of my life behind, it all seemed optimistic at first. What followed were twenty years in pursuit of that normalcy that we used to have, only to have it slip away from our fingers every time we got close to it.

Family feuds that led to irreconcilable schisms irreparably fractured my mom’s side of my family, with the systematic erosion of our country and the implementation of the Socialism of the XXI Century happening in tandem.

Everything that happened ultimately turned me into a very introverted and sheltered teenager and adult, I had lost what little social abilities I had by the time I began college.

Twenty years of life in Caracas and I still wonder what would I be had we stayed in Maracaibo. Sure, the state’s infrastructure is essentially destroyed right now but the point is that I’ve always yearned for that normalcy that we had back then, one that we never managed to replicate in Caracas.

As for the good friends I had to leave behind, I hope that they’ve all managed to have great, meaningful, and fulfilling lives; they wouldn’t be the first group of friends I had to part ways due to having to relocate and they wouldn’t be the last. Still, I miss every single one of them.

The second biggest “what if” would be: What if I had gone to med school instead in 2005? Perhaps I would’ve saved quite a few lives by now and be a totally different person, perhaps I would’ve had the resources and contacts to get my mother the chemotherapy she needed—perhaps she’d still be here with us.

When I combine all of these “What ifs” plus other more well—the existential dread goes supercritical. Here I am, twenty years after having moved to this city, less than what I could’ve been, and without much to attach to my name aside from a dream comprised of several facets, including but not limited to:

A promise, the one I made to my mother fourteen months ago on her last day in this world, that I would do anything and everything so that my brother has a good future and is able to study and fulfil his own goals and dreams, that he can have a normal life of his own despite his mental condition.

A desire, to become the son my mother deserved to have, to leave my mark in this world, to help others towards a better tomorrow one way or another, and to make her proud.

A wish, to be able to create something everlasting that lasts more than I do in this world, the first of which is currently comprised of a 600+ manuscript draft.

A hope, hope that all of my efforts allow us to have a life that’s as close to “normal” as possible, to be able to retake some of the hobbies I’ve had to abandon in the past, to experience and see new things—to live a life different from the sheltered one I’ve had for the past twenty years of my life.

I would like to think that it all happened for a reason, because despite all the bad (and good) that transpired in these past two decades I wouldn’t be whatever I am today without the total sum of those events and actions. 

This is why I’m writing these lines tonight, to bring some closure to these mental burdens, to cast them aside, and to start worrying less of the “what ifs” and redouble, triple, or even quadruple my efforts towards changing “what could be” into “what will be”.

When I was little I always dreamed to be a hero, I’d fashion my very own suits using anything, from towels to medical coats and scrubs, surgical masks—you name it. Leftover PVC pipes and some tape? Great materials for a fancy new sword of staff.

My book series is the physical manifestation of those heroic childhood aspirations, it is me giving life to the wildest concoctions of my still immature imagination—one of the last things I have left of that happy child that I used to be in 1998 aside from memories and a couple dozen photographs of those days. 

Having to formulate a new escape plan for my brother and I meant that I had to pause work on Sword of the Nation. I’m taking advantage of that unintended interruption and will begin to go through the draft once more, focusing on sharpening it up and polishing the rough edges to the best of my ability with a fresh approach while I try my best to get the last piece of the escape puzzle asap.

To successfully carry out that promise, to obtain those desires, to work towards that wish and to materialize my hopes—that’s my Crimson Dream.