“I am scare to go visit home” I said to myself as I was in the plane from Mexico City to New York and then I think that so many people I know would do so much to come back. During my last trip to the United States besides the tension of going back during this time of uncertainty where hate and racism is openly flowing all over the air, I was also dealing with this mobility privilege.
As I was riding the public transportation in Durham, North Carolina I wanted to only look up to the sky and feel the difference between riding the bus here or in Mexico. I was riding the bus in the so called “land of opportunities” and all I saw was the same sky and some trees along the highways. I was still searching for my identity, for my place. It was very confusing because a lot of the time when I am in Mexico, my mind and my heart wants to be in the US, socially I just have not been able to understand or identify with the way people look at life. At the same time in the last trips I have made to the US in the last year since I was given this privilege to travel back and forth I have missed being in Mexico, it is color, it is access to move around and the everyday life. A lot of people will not understand what it means to be “Ni de Aquí, Ni de Allá or De Aquí y De Allá”. Sometimes I am “De Aquí” other times I am “De Allá”.
I have heard so many people tell me that home is where I choose it to be; home is where my loved once are and home can be anywhere I want it to be. This was not enough for me. I grew up in The United States, I did pre-k up until high school, my entire formation was in one country where Spanish was always spoken at home, soccer was played in the family, Mexican food was cooked home, I may have seen the Mexican flag but not much about Mexico, no going there and no talking about it. So, I grew up immersed in the American life, honoring a flag, a culture, traditions, being community active and even an award winning US history in high school. There was no way I could not feel more American and less Mexican as the years went by…
The big disappointment came in high school when I became aware that the country I had thought as mine was actually NOT mine or at least I wasn’t recognized as a citizen rather I was considered an alien. I remember thru out high school on my own, without much support from my family I would write letters to institutions, attorneys and senators telling them my story and how much I desired to stay and be able to go to college. I wrote that I did not want to go to Mexico. On the other hand I had a lot of people in my community telling me the bright future I had ahead, telling me that I was a strong and intelligent girl. I can recall wanting to stay no matter what and one day fighting for my community. I guess if I had stayed I would be doing a lot of what many advocates do for immigrants now.
During this last trip back home I listened to several women with a similar story as mine but the difference is that they resisted here and I didn’t. I heard them say they didn’t throw the towel and they did not give up, so that means I did give up and threw the towel. While I was listening to what they were saying and it sounded to me as if I had failed, I wasn’t strong enough or I didn’t fight enough for what I wanted. I heard people describe that for them returning to Mexico would be as being dead alive or just could not imagine their lives in Mexico. It would just be devastating. I could not help to think that there are millions that have been forced or “chose” to return.
The diversity is so big, and it is true there are a lot of people struggling in Mexico, it is not all pink and rosy. Violence, impunity, corruption, discrimination, poverty, injustice and much more takes place in Mexico; a lot also takes place in the United States and trust me when I say it. It is true that returning to our country of birth and being a foreigner at the same time is possible but having the experience and going thru the process just pushes me to want to fight for it, to rise up the voice for it. I did get pointed with a gun, I have had to navigate the corrupt system, I survived 6 years on minimum wage (less than 3,000 pesos/150 USD a month) but all this just makes me want to put my little grain of sand. I know that the experiences may be very different to those that have returned or been deported. There is no right or wrong, it all has to do with our process.
As much as I know this I also have the right to say that despite everything I have gone thru in the past 8 years in Mexico, I have also had a lot of great moments, I have learned a lot, I have a lot of experience in many areas, I enjoy the natural beauty and I have accomplished many personal projects. I know that a lot of this I owe it to a support network and this mobility privilege.
This trip has helped me understand several things. I recognize the struggles and the challenges of both countries. I recognize the history and I do not think one is better or worse. I get excited about the successes and accomplishments. It also hurts when bad things happen in one or the other. I celebrate the traditions of both places. There is also always a part of me that wants to stand up when I hear people talk bad about one or the other country. I have better understood that what makes a country great again is its people, its places, and knowing their history. I have met great people and lived great moments back home, but also in Mexico. I may have given up in 2008 when I left home but honestly I would not change it for anything. If I could go back in time and be able to stay in the US I would not take it. Even though there were moments that seemed as if I was going thru hell in Mexico I learned from every single one, I learned from every job, from people. I learned to not fear change, rather be scared of routine. I have been in magical places; I have learned to enjoy time with myself. I have fallen many times but every time I have stood up being a stronger woman.
I can navigate thru both places. I try to hold on to the best of both places. I have a wider perspective, which allows me to be critical and not settle easily. I am bi-cultural and bilingual. I enjoy watching at the moon from either place. We deserve to have the right to mobility and to decide where we want to live and for how long, but always fighting for our rights in both places and always holding on to them.
My identity and what I will always fight for is to have the right to be “De Aquí y De Allá”