We arrived at the beach and I was extremely happy and excited, and at that point I didn’t know we were crossing.
I thought it was a normal day… until I got the news that my friend was pregnant. Little did I know that was the day my life was going to change forever.
My name is Elena (name changed). I was born in Guatemala but raised in Michoacan, Mexico. At a young age I would go outside and play with my friends on the dirt road. It was very calm and peaceful. The weather was a lot like here, but the feeling was calmer and I felt free.
Over there I had no TV, no cell phones, but we had our freedom. I remember just running home from school and getting a rope and two sticks just to play a game of volleyball with my friends.
It was always fun, but getting to that fun was hard. I had to wake up at about 5am to see if I had to do my hour to an hour-and-half walk to school or take the bus for 20-30 minutes to get to school. It was a struggle to decide if I should walk the distance and use the money to buy a Torta or take the bus. I would mostly walk the way.
Money wasn’t really an issue. As long as I had my family, I was okay. We all lived in two rooms. My parents in one, and me and my 6 brothers and sisters in another. Un pan era para los nueve de nosotros. One bread was for all nine of us. We didn’t have the most money, but we had the means to have some sort of food in front of us everyday and a roof over my head. For that I am thankful of, because we were happy.
It was a pretty good life, but when I turned around twenty, I heard my friend wanted to come to the US because she was pregnant. I had always been interested in coming and seeing what it was like, but never had a reason.
I thought it would only be for a couple months just to help out my friend, but that changed. I didn’t know what to feel. I was confused, sad, and just nervous because I was going to leave my parents and siblings behind. I was also happy to see California and help out my friends. Most of all, I was excited to see what the future holds.
We made our way to Tijuana, Mexico, and a friend told us to sleep and be ready to wake up the next day really early, because we were going to a friend’s house. I have never been to the beach at this point, and the next morning, the friend told us we were leaving. We started to walk and I thought it was just to get to the friend’s house. We arrived at the beach and I was extremely happy and excited, and at that point I didn’t know we were crossing.
I thought we would cross through the mountains or the desert at night. Nowhere did I imagine it would be this easy. We walked for about two hours. We arrived at a bridge and there was the friend waiting for us so he could take us to his house. Little did I know I was in California.
The third day here, I started to work at a Mexican restaurant. I lasted like 3 years there. I met my future husband and got married.
Fast forward a little, and a friend brought us here to the Bay Area. After that, I met a lady who forever changed my life. I became a caterer. It was a bit challenging because of the language, but this lady helped me. I had never really gone to school, but hearing others and watching television helped me with the English.
I’m still no expert, but thankfully I understand now and can hold a conversation.
Now I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come. I do miss my family, but I know this made life over there easier on all of us. As of now, I am proud of the family I have here. I am still a caterer and am a pretty good cook, or so my family says.
Two of my sons are in good colleges, my daughter is in a great high school. I have worked very hard for the life I have now. I have an amazing and loving family, have great friendships, and have met pretty good people in life who have helped me a lot to make work easier.
Thanks to them, I have gotten to meet amazing people (including Barack Obama) and am just so thankful for what I have and there is nothing more I could ask for.
This story was written by the immigrant’s daughter, a student in the Bay Area.