Saturday, June 20, 2015


Amparo Kelso

Amparo.It’s a name I fell in love with while teaching. A student, a Filipina, had the name. I remember reading it off, and looking up for a face to match. She was slight, demure. She looked more Chinese than Filipino. I announced right then and there I loved her name and, if I was to ever have another daughter, I’d name her Amparo.

It’s a Spanish word, an Old World Spanish expression for refuge or safe place

Amparo arrived in May of 2005. She was surrounded by love, and she exhibited all the traits of a happy, healthy baby. 

The three years we spent together I count among the greatest of my life … whether it was me teasing her incessantly, walking around Dodger Stadium and the Getty, or watching her interact with LPoS, my eldest.

Amparo Kelso
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008, at roughly 11pm I exited my truck to cross a street off of Home Avenue in a shittier part of San Diego, California.

The affair I had was discovered.

Or, factually at least, something like an affair was found out, and it was clear my then-youngest daughter, Amparo, would need to be handed over to her mother, my then-wife.

I dressed Amparo in her favorite princess gown, retrieving her from her older sister.

Amparo was tired, sleepy. She dutifully climbed in her seat, allowing me to buckle her one final time. She might’ve protested a little, but not much.

I remember not playing the truck’s stereo. I loved talking with her. We'd spend most of our time talking, mentioning street names, lights, whether I was turning left or right. I wanted to do that one last time. 

I maneuvered the rear-view mirror so a clear sight of Amparo could be had as I drove. I wanted her face to sear into my brain. She stayed awake, … as if she knew, simply by the fact we never did this, at such a time of night, this would be a monumental trip of some kind.

Amparo Kelso
I parked.

Her mother, distraught and rightfully in full-on rage with me, peered in our direction through her friend’s house window, the curtains wrapping around her angry frame like a bodice. I walked to the passenger’s side rear door, and I unlatched Amparo. 

She was unusually quiet, probably tired. She wrapped her arms about me, and I brought her to the sidewalk.

I closed the truck’s door.

I wanted to say something to Amparo, but I just stared.

I took her hand, and we crossed the street. The house curtains closed dramatically. I heard yelling through the door. The porch light flashed on. Up a couple of steps, and there we stood. Asian eyes poked out from creases in the window. I ignored their harangues. Maybe they didn’t understand what was happening, but I certainly did.

Amparo Kelso
I marked the time. 

The date. 

The weather. 

It was a beautiful night, weather wise. Paradoxically, I felt a sense of ultimate release, a personal lifting of a horrible marital burden. 


It felt great to have the sense no longer would I have to fake a relationship with this person, her mother. 

Weighing on me greater, a dread I cannot describe, was the idea of a tradeoff. Amparo for happiness. Amparo for a life. I could not think of it any longer.

I grabbed her face with both hands. I knelt. Our eyes met. She wiped at hers.

I then stood, gave three hard knocks on this little ghetto house door, and I descended. I walked to the edge of the sidewalk just before the street crossing, backwards. 

The house door pulled open as if it were the exit to a 1960s space capsule bobbing in the ocean, the occupants searching for air. The hinges squealed.  Black hair and white arms reached for Amparo, pulling her inside and away from me forever.

No one then knew what I knew. 

I knew the house’s occupants would use every sickening tool of hate and power they’re able to prevent Amparo and I from ever seeing one another. I knew I’d be going to prison. 

I knew my life would have an official dividing line: the prior 37 and a half years and the rest of my life, and that invisible line was running through this crappy little house.

I turned, crossed, and jumped back into the truck.

The Ford’s powerful V8 motor hummed, and I left it in Park for a few seconds. Without any volitional move on my part, tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t see much of anything except for a hazy streetlight, beckoning me to be on my way.

Amparo Kelso (left)
The rest of the night and heading into the early morning meant tying up loose ends. I called people who might be concerned, and I let them know something was afoot. I was cryptic, vague. More than a few expressed exasperation at just what it was I was telling them. I knew time would reveal it all, or most.

I could not go home, that’s for sure.

I perched myself at a National City hotel, top floor. I checked in under an assumed name. All my worldly possessions were on the other side of town.

Again, my life right then and there divided and I could feel it.

Whatever I was, however I defined myself for this half was dead. Gone. Forever.

The week played itself out with my eventual arrest. County jail. State prison. The most difficult, restrictive parole in United States history.

Every day, every day no exaggeration, I thought of the last time I saw Amparo. People would ask me what happened to my then-youngest daughter and if I saw her. There was too much to explain, so I artfully changed the subject. When at times they’d press for details, I’d go through it. They’d assure me I had rights. Some would posture about what they’d do if some maniac woman stole their child.

This wasn’t a movie.

Restraining orders, state restrictions, media accounts, hysteria all played dramatic roles in preventing Amparo and I from reuniting.

Those who expressed the deepest concern for my welfare and that of my child, I reminded, This is a marathon, not a race. It’s going to take years and chance for us to ever meet again.

Until then, I'll keep that last night and a few photographs to remind me of the choices I made, there unintended consequences, and the life I have now. 

And I mean it.

Craig Edward Kelso is the author of Anarcho-Capitalism (2014), a primer on the philosophy of peaceful, stateless cooperation. His curriculum vitae include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Post-Baccalaureate secondary education credential in both Social Science and English Language Arts. Kelso taught for nearly a decade in the American public school system, and was voted by colleagues Teacher of the Year, twice in his short tenure, earning numerous accolades from chambers of commerce, mayors, state assembly persons, governors, congresspersons, senators, and even Wal-Mart. Currently he struggles to earn an opportunity to be employed, working as a laborer, dishwasher. He is deliriously happily married to Myra Kelso, living in Southern California with their adorable children.

No comments:

Post a Comment