“I would come back, I promise.”
Just like thousands of others that had promised to their families. But just like the thousands of others, I haven’t returned.
I lived in Michoacan. I was like any other kid. I went to school. I played with my friends. I had dreams. We lived in an okay neighborhood. Everyone knew each other and everyone was nice to each other. I would play basketball with everyone. We made teams and signed up for a league. I still remember when we ordered our uniforms and designed it to have a panther on it. We got the uniforms expecting a fierce panther. We unpacked it and it looked like a black version of the pink panther.
Over time, I began to grow frustrated because I knew that I could never accomplish my dreams or anything for that matter while I lived in Mexico. Money. Money is the thing that holds back almost everyone in Mexico. Money was the reason I could never hope to accomplish my dreams. I would pass by restaurants and never had the money to buy food. I never knew how the food tasted just how it smelled. Money was always tight in my household with two parents trying to support 7 kids.
I couldn’t continue to live in Mexico. I yearned to go to college. I wanted to be able to walk into the restaurant and sit down, menu in my hand, and order whatever I felt like ordering. I wanted to be able to have a good future. But I didn’t want a future that took me away from everything that I loved so dearly. I was sad that I would have to leave my family, the thing that mattered the most to me. I told myself that I would come back to Mexico. I told myself that I would come back unlike the thousands of others who had said that before. I told myself that I was just going to be different but I knew…… I knew.
Everyone that went to US never came back.
I traveled to the border many times and I was detained several times. I would pretend that I was a minor so that they would be kinder and not as harsh. I saw how badly they treated all the adults. They would push them around, be aggressive, and even if I couldn’t understand the language but I knew that they were saying racial slurs. I kept trying each and every time they would let me out because I knew there was no way I could go back home. I owed so much money to the coyote and if I went back I wouldn’t be able to pay it off and the money would just go to waste. I couldn’t go back. There was no hope for a good life. If I wanted change I had to keep going and never look back. Never.
In 1999 I finally made it.
I lived in San Diego when I was finally able to get through. People stared at me, but they could tell I didn’t belong. I didn’t speak the language and anyone in the area with my color skin was going to get weird looks. I stayed in the house all day. I never left. I didn’t even dare to open the window. After a short time in San Diego I came to the Bay Area.
My uncle who lived here helped me get a job and a place to stay. I worked all the time trying to gain enough to survive. My jobs, usually factory or janitorial, were always temporary as they would only ever give all immigrants jobs that were 3 to 4 months. People would always look down on me because of my job. They seemed to think that I was lower than them. They wouldn’t even want to talk to me like I was not worthy. I was educated just not in their language so to them I was an idiot. People inside the workplace weren’t the only problem.
I was young. 19 years old. These kids would try to bother me after my work. Surrounding me, trying to bait me to fight. That all stopped once an older person came up to them and scared them so much they never bothered me again.
Even though some people were rude, I was happy to be in a place with so many cultures, races, ethnicities, etc. I could walk down a street and see an Indian, an African American, and an Asian. That was something I would never see in Mexico.
I live a good life. I have been blessed with 3 girls. On Fridays I can come home and I will see all my three daughters. One sitting on the couch, tired from the week, my oldest carefree as she is soon to go to college. Both look at their baby sister as she looks at them with her big curious eyes. I look at them and how time has passed since I came. No matter how old they get I still see them as the little bundles that needed their diapers to be changed . I have a job that can support me and my family. I can now speak English. That was huge for me. Learning the language has helped me out a lot. At work I earn more money than the rest of my co workers because I speak the language and can talk to the customers. I’m living a good life.
This narrative was written by the immigrant’s daughter.