It was a struggle getting to the U.S. but it was worth it. I had a decent childhood, I was born in México, Apatzingán, Michoacán in 1984. My mom’s name was Maria but we called her Lola and my dad’s name was Cristobal.
I was the youngest in my family of 5 brothers and 6 sisters, so most of the time I was spoiled by my older siblings, they would buy me clothes, shoes, anything I wanted.
I didn’t even have to work until later on because I was always studying in school. I got that opportunity because my family dedicated their time and money so I could go to school. I would always work hard and get good grades, straight A’s actually. And I loved to do Arts like dancing and singing. It was another part of the school that I would enjoy doing on my spare time. I got along with many people and practiced dances and singing but never actually performed because I prefer not to. We were able to afford it because my family came together and pitched in money for me. The people at the school were so nice. I made many friends and they would pay for my food and they would invite me over to study sessions and out to eat, but a meal was so expensive. I would usually not buy food, even when my mom gave me money just to save it when we would go out on the weekend. I remember those days when my stomach would roar in the middle of class and I would just try to ignore it, but it was worth it because I had lots of fun with my friends on the weekend.
Overall, everyone really loved me because I was always so humble and nice to everyone, but one of my nieces hated me. Her name was Karen. She absolutely hated me. I don’t know if it was because she was jealous or what but she hated me. She hated me so much she stabbed me in the leg with scissors after a heated argument that I forget what was about. But she stuck it in my thigh and blood started gushing out and I was screeching in pain trying to cure myself, scrambling for anything that would help. I eventually healed, but Karen just hated everyone even our mom for no reason. She would always yell mean things like “Nadie te quiere” (no one loves you). Besides that everyone else was nice and caring for each other just trying to help. But for a good time we would always get along and then it would just change randomly she would start to hate me again. Besides that my life as a little girl wasn’t that bad.
Until my dad died when I was 7 years old. I felt sad for myself but more for my mom because she was constantly sad and when I would hug her I would put my face on hers and feel her warm cheeks with a cold river pouring down. PORQUEEEE (WHYYYY??) she would constantly yell. I don’t really remember how I felt because it was so long ago but all I remember was my mom being really sad.
So my brother Jorge took that father figure role. Mainly for me though. He would teach me many things and do many favors for me whenever I needed anything.
We weren’t economically struggling because we had lots of family members helping each other to play that role of a lost father and we even had our shop. I still remember the flickering light we had and the smell of meat at night and all the spilled beer and soda. The shop came with one of the many responsibilities I had.
It was mainly because I lived alone with my mom and she had diabetes. I had to clean her up and constantly just watch over her because she constantly got sick. But it wasn’t that hard because I saw my mom as my best friend and I told her everything like if I had a boyfriend or anything like that.
I was married at 15 then had my first kid at 17, and my second kid at 19. My mom Lola signed papers in agreement to have me get married with my boyfriend because I really loved him and she liked him as well so she didn’t mind as long as I was happy. So we got married. I was happy and in love, but it felt as if something was missing.
I wanted to live a better life. I didn’t want to live with what I had, with barely making the cut. I felt as if I was surviving, not living. I knew I had to make a change because I was going to have kids and I wanted them to have a bright future. I didn’t think that my life here in Mexico was going to be enough for my kids considering all the violence that was around. Con cuidado (with caution) my brother Jorge always said. After my brother Lalo bought a field, we would carry workers and fruits in a truck to the field and back, but sometimes streets would get stopped because of the violence, most of the time it wasn’t even police enforcement, people would just start shooting at other people and cars. No one I knew got hurt but I wasn’t going to wait for that to happen in order for me to make a change, so I decided I was going to Mexico with my son Erick. I couldn’t live like this.
I took a plane from Apatzingán to Tijuana and then in a car from Tijuana to USA. I left my mom and I was crying but I had to say goodbye. I felt so bad and heartbroken because she wanted to come with us but couldn’t because of how sick she was. We met a couple of my husbands friends that were doctors and I crossed with them and I also had to take my son Erick across I couldn’t leave him behind no matter what. I didn’t have papers at the time so I was so worried but I just played it cool because my husband’s friends were really smart. I hid Erick under a blanket where my feet were. We stopped when we got to the border. The doctor seemed to have done this a couple times because they knew each other and got along well. He just asked for ID and checked the trunk but that was it. They didn’t even decide to question my presence. I was so scared every single one of my bones were shaking, but nothing bad happened, it felt as if I were crossing legally. We got through fine and just like that we were in USA.
Later when I arrived, my sister Adriana and brother Conio came to pick me up from Bakersfield. When I first arrived, I realized I was pregnant and was scared. I didn’t know what to do. Es por lo mejor (Its for the best) I would always tell myself but I was panicking and I needed to do something about it quick. My mind felt as if it were in the forest looking for a fish. I also felt sad because I had to leave my mom in Mexico and I felt lost because of how different it was in the US and I didn’t speak English or even know anyone except my family. That is until I met my first friend Chely at my first job at Mcdonalds that I had worked in for 6 months, but it came to an end soon and I found another job as a babysitter.
The lady that I was a babysitter for opened a restaurant and wanted me to work for her so I did but it started as a food truck and progressed from there. We then started a restaurant and it only got better. I started looking at the bright side and kept telling myself that I was doing this for a better future.
My husband came about a week later. We then started looking for a place to live. We were living with one of my sisters at the time in her garage. I knew we needed to move out as soon as possible.
I was soon going to have a baby so I had to prepare. We couldn’t live in this garage. I needed a place for my kids. I wanted them to be happy in their own place. So we worked hard for many years and finally rented an apartment and just built off of it. My 2nd kid though came right before we bought the apartment. He was really big. Like really fat, heavier than most babies and he was so chubby. I couldn’t help but laugh, I felt happy and relieved that he finally came out. We worked and worked to buy our kids things and just made a living and here we are now.
It was a rough journey but I feel proud of raising two kids and having quality time with them and setting them up for a bright future. I have a daughter now and her name is Kassandra. We all love her and she’s just very bright and cute. I’m also now a manager of a restaurant company that me and my boss started off with just food truck. I realized you can’t buy memories and quality time with your friends and family because time is the most precious thing we have. Ponte las pilas (put on your batteries/get your head in the game) I tell my kids. Porque no es para mi es para usted. ( because it’s not for me it’s for you) I also tell them.
This story is based on an interview by a student at Eastside College Prep.