I’ve felt like my world had ended countless times before. I get flashbacks of my mom fighting my alcoholic father. Her crying, his yelling, my cries and then darkness. Me, looking up as a toddler, at two dark silhouettes towering over me. Crying, screaming, arguing, arguing, fighting. One threatening to leave; the other, the other knowing damn well it’s all talk, after all, it was because of him that she’s here. Living in America, free and able. “It’s because of him, that she got her papers. It’s because of him and she damn sure has to be grateful for it.” So she stays and tolerates him a bit more, a two year old on her hips and fear on her lips.
One day, she finally decided to leave. I spent months in a country I wasn’t born in. Our country. While my mother lived homeless. I still remember going to school there. My first language was Spanish but my ability to articulate four syllable words fools the typical American man. I’ll never forget the first day I landed. I still remember running to her the first time I saw her. I was golden brown and she, pale and tired. It was a nice day, I think, or maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know. It didn’t matter. How old was I? Four? Maybe a little more.
I was five when we lived in Brooklyn in a one bedroom apartment with my aunt, her husband, and my cousin. My mom was pregnant with my sister. She came home from twelve hour shifts in a six day work week. We went to the beach one day while we lived there. Perhaps my memory deceives me but that’s the only day off, that I recall, that my mom ever had while we lived there.
I can go on and dwell and tell stories for days, weeks, months on end about the things I’ve seen and experienced in my 22 years of life. But there is nothing that I can ever do to show how proud I am to have come from a first generation immigrant parent. She came to the United States with only two pairs of shoes and not a dime to her name. Built herself up from the shitty jobs that bigots claim were stolen. And got me to the mentality that I am today. I would not have prospered if it were not for her sacrifices. I’m not where I want to be yet but because of her I know if I work hard, I can be.