I was reading Lit, Mary Karr’s alcohol-soaked but sequin-bright third memoir, when I received this second essay from Venice High School senior Nina Montoya. Nina, if you’ll remember, is one of English teacher Dennis Danziger’s students and part of a PEN-in-the Classroom workshop run by author Amy Friedman., who is also Danziger’s wife.
Due to her age, Nina is pretty new to this matter of writing. But as you can see from the earlier essay posted here (which you should read along with this one, if you haven’t), she has a knack for the work, however nascent. I bring up Mary Karr because, although when The Liars club, the memoir that forever put Karr on the literary map, was published in 1995, Karr was 40 and had behind her one marriage, the birth of her son, an MFA with a famous writer as mentor, and a whole lot of therapeutic hours logged talking about her spirit-gouging and deeply abusive childhood, there is thread of similarity linking Karr’s books and Nina’s newly-minted efforts.
By contrast, Nina has not yet graduated high school. Yet she has a budding writer’s voice and the willingness to wrestle with the hard stuff—both of which merit nurturing.
Scattered across Los Angeles, there are other talented kids like Nina who also have important stories to tell, and voices that merit nurture. With any luck, some of those LA stories—along with more of Nina’s—will find their way to WitnessLA.
by Nina Montoya
I believe that the love you have for your family is incredibly strong. Your family member can do something so horrible that it makes you want to hate them and never speak to them again, but in the end you will still love them, still end up contacting them in some way. Even if you claim to not love that person or state that you disown them. Deep down you know in your heart as much as you want to deny it, it’s there, that unexplainable love.
In the past I have been physically and mentally abused by my father. He has told me many times that I am stupid, that I should just give up, quit. When I would speak of college he told me that I shouldn’t bother, that they don’t care if you are smart or stupid, the only reason why they want you is to take your money. He has threatened me, put me in many unnecessary dangers, even threatened my friends as well. Inexplicably, I still love him. I always will love him, for he is my father and though he makes not the best decisions, I know in the end he loves me too. That he is proud of me, I have heard him brag to his friends. I just wish that I could hear the compliments myself, that he would tell me to my face that he is proud.
Even my mother who abandoned me I love her. She left me when I was merely a toddler. She even attempted to do drugs while she was pregnant with me, but I still love her. Though I wish not to speak to her, when she does contact me I tolerate it. This is because as much as I hate her, my love is stronger. Of all the times I have yelled and screamed that I never want anything to do with her, it is false. I do wish to be around her, I do wish to show my love towards her, but she has lost the opportunity. As much as I wish for this communication it cannot happen, she has chosen the needle over her own children, so for that she will not be able to experience that love.
As much as there is something wrong with each of my parents I still love them, no matter how much pain each of them has put me through, I do. That’s the thing, a love like the one you have for your family is not like any other love. I believe that this familial love is almost indestructible, can never disintegrate. There have been so many times I have felt that deep fiery anger of hate toward both of my parents but, the love that I have for each of them is stronger, especially for my father. He raised my sister and me and that is something I will always be thankful for. I have seen him break down, cry even and he has seen the same from me. In those times of need we are always there for each other, in the end we will always have one another.
NOTE: More news stories a bit later this morning, so check back.