I was having an existential crisis during my drive home on Wednesday, 1/6/2021. It was hard to get out of a mundane day at work and scroll through my phone and see everything that had been going on while I worked. Nothing makes you feel like a minuscule tiny worker ant in this world more than working all day to suddenly find out all hell is breaking loose (more than usual) in your country and all of us at work were just going about our day doing what we always do. I didn’t understand why I was on the verge of crying the whole way home. Stuck in horrid San Antonio 1604 traffic, wondering if the people inside the sea of cars in front and behind me where feeling the same way, but unfortunately there was nothing else to do but sit in traffic with our thoughts in our daily commute to get home. Or the scary thought that maybe they were sitting in their cars wishing that was them.
I would consider myself patriotic. I love that I was privileged enough to be born in this country, especially as a female in a poor family. I read “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World” by Melinda Gates and the thing that really struck a chord with me is how many things I don’t even think twice about that so many women in third world countries yearn for… I too could have been born to the “untouchable” caste in India through no fault of my own.
The next day I sat to write what I’m grateful for (a practice I do consistently before I begin my work day) and instead of being stressed and freaking out about everything going on, I wrote that I was thankful that I was blessed enough to be born in the USA and partake in my own version of the American dream. My version of the American dream is not lacking anything I need (not being worried about having a place to sleep, not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from, not having to worry about bad weather and walking to work, etc.) and being free to go places I want to go, live where I want to live, learn what I want to learn, and love who I want to love. My American dream was being able to break the generational poverty and under-educated cycle, something that would have been much harder to do in my mom’s hometown of Teremendo, Michoacan.
The thing is, when I really think about it, I wasn’t really born here by chance. My mom made a conscious decision to come to the United States, more than once! I’m sad to say that I haven’t been able to get a complete account of my mom’s early life and all her adventures, I just know little bits in pieces. I know that she has crossed the border more than once in her life and I know that one of the times was through the desert while pregnant and she always say she can’t describe how tired and ready to give up she was. She told the group to just leave her behind, but thankfully, giving up and being left in the desert to die was not written in her stars.
I appreciate the desperation and tenacity of anyone who would cross the desert for a chance of a better life, especially one who would do it while pregnant. As a geologist, I’ve spent a good amount of time mapping in the desert, full outdoor gear, plenty of water, plenty of snacks, and I always knew at the end of the day I would get to relax and drink a beer at the campsite. Even with all that preparation and knowledge of an ice cold beer waiting for me, it was still one of the most brutal experiences having the sun beaming against you so bad that you’re not sure how your hair hasn’t caught fire yet. My mom’s story isn’t even unique, there has been plenty before her and after her that travel from further and through worst conditions to shoot their shot in el otro lado.
Side note: My favorite books I read this year were “The Distance Between Us” and “A Dream Called Home”, both are memoirs by Reyna Grande. Stories like hers really put things into perspective and even make me feel like I need to step up my game, if she could get to where she is with all her obstacles, I have no excuse.
My mom is very standoffish if you don’t know her; she isn’t the warmest loving huggy touchy feely type of mom, but no doubt she loved us even before she knew us, that is why she came here. She is a kickass persistent strong woman and two years ago on this date, 01/14/2019, she became a United States Citizen.
I think her version of the American dream was not having to worry about being deported and separated from us and that is why it took her so long. She always wanted to be here legally, but in order to fix her status, she would have to go back to Mexico and wait leaving us behind. She was not going to leave us behind so she gave up on being here legally and seeing her family in Mexico for over 30 years to stay here with us. My mom never cries, but the one time I saw her cry was when her mom passed away. Can you imagine leaving home at 18 and never being able to go back and see your mom because you risked being separated from your own kids? All because you were born on the wrong side of an imaginary line…I could go on forever, but I will spare you.
I know it makes her happy to brag about our achievements to her coworkers, but I just really want to brag about her achievement today, that is why I wrote this. I love you mom.