The Everywhere Project
April 13, 2017
The trip was long and the night brought sleep for everyone except my mom, who stayed vigilant. I remember waking up covered in a blanket that my mom later explained had been given to me by el coyote. It was his daughter’s blanket. I still have it and, while it is no longer big enough to cover me, it gives me comfort and reminds me that people are kind. I take it everywhere I go to remind me of home and my mom.
We were caught on our first attempt to cross the border. I remember a detention center, cold and metallic. There were two toilets and metal benches along the walls with tables in the center.
Even though we were caught, I am thankful that the guards were kind and that the other women in the room missed their children so much that they took care of my sister and I for the few nights we were there. It allowed my mom to finally rest and I was grateful for it because she, only 23 at the time, deserved it.
The detention center was also where I obtained souvenir number two: a dark brown teddy bear with a deep red velvet bow tie I named Machildo. He was given to me by one of the officers and, although he got lost in one of our many moves once in the United States, I will always remember him.
Our second try across the border was successful and soon I was face-to-face with a stranger who kept saying he was my father. I only believed him when my mom confirmed what he said. He welcomed us into a trailer behind a two story home, where my sister and I slept in a bunk-bed and my parents slept in a bed across the trailer. It was small and cramped but I cannot remember a time when I thought that it wasn’t enough. It was always enough because I was happy and with my family.
As I grew older, our family dinners became less frequent and my parents arguments increased. They’re separated now, but I admire them both because they were not familiar with this country, yet somehow managed to make sure that my sister and I received an education and remained close to our culture. We spoke Spanish at home and because of this I was enrolled in all-Spanish classes until I moved schools in third grade.
There, I had to string together my sparse knowledge of the English language because this new school was all in English. I felt uncomfortable and out of place there because, unlike my classmates, my skin was darker and I had an accent and I did not live in a big house. I did not even live in a house.
Fortunately, I had a Latina teacher who went above and beyond to help me, translating her worksheets and class work into Spanish for me. She even checked in with other teachers to make sure I was doing my best regardless of the language barrier.
Eventually, life got better. I made friends and while I never felt like I was on their level academically or economically, I was never ashamed. I did not think that I had anything to be ashamed of and I still don’t. In the face of adversity my parents made a choice that I have to live with and while it has brought challenges, I was always told that I could accomplish anything despite my status in this country.
After my departure from Mexico, it has been 15 years since I last saw and hugged my grandma. And up to this day I have not hugged my grandpa since, and I fear I never will again. While it hurts that I cannot be with the family that raised me in Mexico, I am proud of what I have accomplished and became.
The Everywhere Project gives voice to the undocumented community of Santa Clara through anonymous submissions. For more information or to submit your own story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.