Having braces apparently wasn’t bad enough.
You hated your tin grin, but that wasn’t as demoralizing as acne, which was nothing compared to hormones, which wasn’t as annoying as untamable hair, which was minimal compared to your teenage self-esteem - which hovered around 5 on a 1-to-50 scale.
Still, you overcame, lived through it, and here you are. And in the new book “Handbook for an Unpredictable Life” by Rosie Perez, you’ll read about another survivor.
Lydia Perez was an up-and-coming singer in Puerto Rico when her much-older husband forced her to quit before moving her and their children to New York City. Unhappy and restless, she fatefully met Ismael Serrano, a married ladies’ man who wanted to date her sister – but Lydia stole him away and, months later, pregnant, she accused him of cheating (again), waved a gun at him, and he (understandably) left.
A week after giving birth, Lydia visited her new daughter’s aunt and vanished, leaving baby Rosie there for the next three years.
For Rosie Perez, her Tia’s home was the perfect place to live. Tia had three daughters who doted on their little cousin and encouraged her to dance and sing. Perez remembers being safe, clean, and loved.
And then her mother – who’d been diagnosed with schizophrenia – returned. Without warning, Lydia reclaimed Perez and turned her over to “the Home.” At age three, Perez was “the ‘property’ of the Catholic Church.”
Immediately, she was given chores she didn’t understand and rules that were strictly enforced. She found a friend and learned that crying resulted in swift punishment. At that tender age, she lived without privacy and with beatings, though she encountered kindness in a few of the nuns and Brothers who were tasked with caring for and teaching the children in the Home.