Barista at Toma Cafe — Madrid, ES
I was born in Venezuela. Saying that makes me feel quite sad, happy, hopeful, worried, and anxious—and at the same time, my experiences in Venezuela taught me many things I would come to interiorize as I got older. I’ve never thought of myself as an immigrant. I guess I always thought that I just needed to work harder, which is something I’m grateful to have learned from my parents, who still show that to me every day. At 17, I moved with my twin brother to the United States and lived there for almost a decade. Now I live in Madrid, and this will be my fifth year in Spain. My direct family is split between three countries: the US, Venezuela and Spain. That’s definitely the hardest aspect of my day-to-day. My brother just had his first baby, and I won’t meet my nephew for another five months. That shouldn’t be normal.
Each one of us live our own version of reality, and that reality can actually morph as you go through the years.
I came to Spain with one suitcase and a backpack. I sold kitchen knives door-to-door when I couldn't find any jobs, and now I work in coffee. It may seem very black and white, but believe me, there are many gray areas in between those two points in my life. Each one of us lives our own version of reality, and that reality can actually morph as you go through the years. My textbook reality would be that of a first-generation immigrant and in a weird way, that makes me proud. I say weird because at this point, that sense of belonging somewhere is somewhat ephemeral to me. I don’t feel Venezuelan, I don't feel Spanish or American. I just know that I’ve had to quickly adapt to many different scenarios, and I still do that. I suppose that sense of pride also comes from having a family that, through all the struggle, stays as solid as a freaking diamond.
I clearly remember my dad waking me and my brother up at 8AM every Sunday to mow the lawn and wash the cars and the dogs, and of course, I remember hating it. So it’s weird now to think that I’m very glad he did that. Hard work always came with the opportunity to have a go at doing what I felt drawn to, and ever since I was quite young my parents let me and my brother have an electric guitar and a drum set in our room—imagine the noise!
I obsess over things I want to learn, and I’m still obsessing over music.
Along with a group of friends, my brother and I started a progressive rock band when we were about 15 years old and from then on, music took over my life and it hasn’t stopped. I obsess over things I want to learn, and I’m still obsessing over music. I can get lost for hours trying to figure out songs, playing patterns or repeating some riff I’ve been trying to play ‘perfectly.’ I’ve always thought that things must be right when you are doing your thing and you can completely forget to eat for hours. That happens when I’m playing.
I have a very endearing memory engrained in my head. It’s a memory of my parents trying to get two metal heads to listen to Latin music. They would play vinyls of Ruben Blades or Juan Luis Guerra during the weekend or holidays and my mother would always say, ’Un hombre tiene que saber bailar salsa (A man has to know how to dance salsa).’ So now I try to play as much salsa as I can while making coffee and dressing like a rocker.
As temporary as places can be, Madrid feels like home now.
My upbringing has led me to explore different creative outlets, some of which I have abandoned, started again, abandoned and so on. But the visual, auditive and physical aspects of creativity have always interested me. On the visual side, I have been sketching whatever comes to my mind since I was little, and I try to keep that going by always having ink and paper close to me. On the auditive side, there’s music, and there will always be music. On the physical side, I’ve been going back to the skatepark to get that muscle memory to remember the tricks I used to do as a kid. I’m almost thirty, so I’m pretty sure my body and mind are trying to stay as young as they can with all these activities. I’ve always said I don’t care about age, and I don’t, but damn! If I fall on the skateboard the pain lasts longer now.
As temporary as places can be, Madrid feels like home now. It’s been quite a ride to get here, crazy ups and downs, some good twists, too—but in a way, everything is in its right place. I don’t know what’s next, and I like not knowing.