Alternative Title: “Paradise Lost”
The champion heavy-weight boxer Mike Tyson is reported to have once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” In my case, this quote could not be more apt. Although I loved living in Puerto Rico and had already garnered many academic laurels (promotion to associate professor and tenure in 2004, appointment as a Ronald Coase Fellow in 2005, my first external grant and overseas publication in 2006, and my first invitation to teach in the United States in 2008), my world was starting to unravel. By the spring of 2009, I had suffered several metaphorical gut punches in my professional and private life. Alas, some of these wounds were self-inflicted.
- Coup d’Etat at the PUCPR Law School. In a turn of events that took me by surprise, my benefactor Charles Cuprill-Oppenheimer, the venerable dean of the PUCPR law school, was abruptly forced to retire and replaced with a new dean from out of nowhere. I know about this sordid academic affair first-hand because I was on the official search committee, and our committee had voted unanimously to reappoint Dean Cuprill-Oppenheimer to an unprecedented fourth term. Without any notice, however, the president of the university unilaterally appointed one of his own cronies to the deanship, and once this new dean was installed, the vipers on the faculty came out of the woodwork. This faction forced out my best friend Orlando I. Martinez Garcia (the new dean decided to not renew his contract) and voted to kill my survey course on the Evolution and Development of the Institutions of the Civil Law. Although I had tenure, the knives were out; the handwriting was on the wall.
- The End of an Affair. The most painful chapter of my life, however, was in large part the result of my own bad behavior. I was in a toxic relationship with a woman who did not love me, but she was the mother of my children, two beautiful children that I loved more than anything in the world. I had used up my life savings to buy a home on Calle Las Palomas, just off the hustle and bustle of Calle Loiza in Santurce, walking distance to my children’s school (Academia San Jorge), and two blocks from my favorite beach, Ocean Park. But I was unfaithful, and instead of Christian forgiveness, I was condemned to the worst kind of Hell on Earth. The mother of my children kicked me out of the Las Palomas house and kept me from seeing my children.
In short, I had been punched in the mouth–twice over. So, with the sudden coup d’etat at the university and my family life obliterated, I decided to cut my losses, leave the island, and start over …