I was born in Mexico, but my parents brought me to New Orleans when I was 3 and I was raised here with my siblings. When I was about 11, my father was deported back to Mexico. He's a good father, he just has one problem - he's an alcoholic. He spent most of his money on drinking and wasn't really home. He was either working or drinking. One day he got caught and went to jail and that was like his third time and he was finally deported. He stayed in Mexico and never came back and I barely talk to him, only when he needs something or if he wants to say hey, but it doesn't feel the same. He's never really there for me when I need him, so it made me push away from him. Not having my father made me really grow up quick. I started working when I was 16 and I felt like I had to take care of myself in order to help my mother. I got my school stuff, my clothes and everything, so I was just saving my money up and buying all the stuff that I needed myself.

Not having my father made me really grow up quick.

I had support from my mother. It actually made me closer to her than anybody else. I speak to her about almost everything - we don't have any secrets. My older brothers tried to seem like they didn't care but you could see that they were affected by my father being deported. But we all had to be strong to get over it. Now we see our mother as the only parent we have. Working all the time also helped me. I work at a restaurant and started as a busboy, then moved up to the kitchen, and now I'm a waiter. Being busy throws me off my problems.

I used to keep stuff to myself a lot and it gets overwhelming to the point that you just give up and fall into depression.

I wish I had my father in my life. As he was getting deported he was in jail. He was calling home and telling me to be a good son to my mother and stay in school and everything. I felt like he was a good father when he was in jail and not when he was out. He never gave me advice when he was out. I wish I were closer to his part of the family, too. I speak to his sisters, but we're not really close to them. It's like our family is only considered my brothers, my sister, and my mother. We don't really rely on anybody else to help us. But next summer I plan to go to Mexico. I'll probably see him because I'll end up going to his parents' house. After almost ten years, I wonder if things will change between us.