What I remember most is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there'd be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six--Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.
They always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn't have to move each year. Our house would have running water, pipes that worked, real stairs, a basement, and three washrooms. It would be white with trees around it and a big yard with a fence.
But the house on Mango Street is not the way they told it at all. It's small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you'd think they were holding their breath. Bricks are crumbling in places...there is no front yard...out back is a small yard. The stairs are ordinary hallway stairs and we have only one washroom. Everybody has to share a bedroom--Mama and Papa, Carlos and Kiki, me and Nenny.
Where do you live?
You live there?
I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn't it. The house on Mango Street isn't it. For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go.