I didn’t want to leave. I was scared. What if I never saw my dad again? Nothing to guarantee that I would ever be this close to him again. I stood there confused and unsure in front of the large bright red letters of the El Gigante supermarket. I looked to my two older brothers as they turned back to me saying “Well we’re not gonna see you again.” My whole life I’d been with my two brothers, I knew that this was not going to be where we went different ways. I kept walking, my feet heavy as bricks.
One night with a cousin, another with an uncle, and one more with an aunt. That’s where the real traveling came. My brothers and I got on a plane. We were barely 10 years old, but yet there we were, alone going from Mexico City all the way to Tijuana.
My two brothers and I sat in the back seat of the old smelling car with the Coyote that had picked us up outside of the airport. We sat through a car ride that I thought would take us to our dream future and upon arriving at the border, I practiced over and over again in my head. By the time I had to say it, the words rolled off of my tongue as if it were really true. “USA Citizens” we said, and we were in.
It tasted weird. I had never tasted these things before, but I felt excited. I had been freed from the cage that I came from in Mexico. What would I eat next, big juicy cheeseburgers, greasy bacon and pancakes the size of my head? I said goodbye to my tacos and salsas that carried the gifts of my native land. I was moving on, moving away From there, came…
Mateo (name changed)
Mateo was mom’s friend. He basically organized everything. He got the coyote and later met her at the Jack in the Box that was full of people that were on their paths, who knows where to. From there he drove us countless hours to San Jose, the South Side, where I would spend my first few years in California.
Mom, or stranger?
I hadn’t seen my mom in years, but when she pulled us into her worn out arms I felt safe. She kissed us as her eyes filled with tears and those tears slowly rolled down her brown cheeks.
At the time my mom was living in the house of an old retired couple. They had given a room for my mom to stay in, so once we arrived, it was the four of us in that room. We grew up seeing the clean house in a nice part of the city, just as I had envisioned the way Americans were living.
Junior is my son. Today I get to share my love for learning, nature, and baseball with him and the rest of my family. While not everything was clean houses and big burgers, I am grateful for everything I’ve gained on this journey that I still continue today.
The interview and write up were done by the subject’s niece, a student at Eastside College Prep School.