Preface ♪ Born To Be Mild

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Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, called Orlando, Florida, there lived a girl who was not a princess, for she was born fat.

According to the legend, even the hospital staff had appeared a little stunned that this newborn was not so tiny. A nurse had had trouble depositing her in her mother's arms. The mother, worried about the cause, cast a look down at the innocent infant and frowned.

"This can't be my daughter," were the first words the baby heard. Of course, she had no recollection of it herself. The only reason she knew was because it was one of her mother's favorite stories.

You see, the mother had been a beautiful 22 year old woman in her prime, poised to become the next Selena of the Latino world in America. Until she'd gotten pregnant with her manager, the man who had taken her out of her native Venezuela with promises of fame and richness. And had dumped her to the curb as soon as the news of pregnancy had been delivered to him.

So, don't think that the mother was a callous woman. She hadn't been entirely happy about the circumstances. It couldn't have been easy for her to muster love and warmth when feeling abandoned and fooled by the man she'd entrusted her entire future to.

The mother, one Victoria Cecilia de la Cruz Vazquez, had grown up in the land of the most beautiful women on earth, being one of them. Since she was a child, her heart had been filled to bursting with compliments from relatives and strangers about how bright her smile was, how wonderful her big, green eyes were, or her glossy, straight hair, and as she grew up, about her hourglass figure.

But being praised for her one true love, singing, was ultimately her reason for living. And she'd thought she could make a good living out of it, too. She left her parents and siblings and moved to the land of the American dream to pursue her version of it. She envisioned herself on a stage in front of thousands of people, singing in Spanish or English, it didn't matter, as long as her voice reached far and wide. As long as the applause was all for her.

And it all went up in a puff of smoke thanks to a single night of abandon.

Fast forward nine months and the baby in her arms was not a bundle of joy. It was a symbol of all she'd lost with one stupid mistake, and on top of that, didn't even look like her.

When telling the story to friends and relatives, Victoria laughed as if it was a funny one with a happy ending. "Then she started wailing right there in my arms and I started growing hysterical when it dawned on me that, Dios mío, I was suddenly a mother and I didn't even know how to take care of myself. Her screams were so loud that the doctor and the nurses ran away from the room. But at that moment I realized she was mine, because even though she didn't have my face or my hair or even the color of my eyes, she definitely had my lungs."

So this girl, the non princess, grew up using her lungs the same way her mother did. To belt out in song.

Vera Maria de la Cruz Vazquez grew up being known in her barrio for two things: one, that she was fat, and two, that she could sing anything, anywhere, any time.

In case you were wondering, that was my story.

The only thing I share in common with my ma is that we both love music. Even after I was born and she realized that she couldn't keep the same lifestyle of working at weddings, parties and singing at clubs while taking care of me, she never abandoned her talent. She wouldn't read me books when I was a kiddy; she'd sing me songs from her youth. I grew up on Olga Tañón, Selena and old acts like Las Chicas del Can, that nobody seemed to know. And I mimicked her, because what else are you supposed to do when you were six years old, and those were the only moments you saw your ma's eyes fill with genuine delight and pride that you were in her life.

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