Sep 11, 2009


I didn’t utter a word during the four hours of travel. I waved goodbye to my home from the plane, the city shrinking before my eyes, thinking stubbornly that I was going to be back, that I would walk those streets again a month from now.

We finally landed in Miami Airport (which in and on itself deserves a chapter in my story) not very welcoming with its thousand people walking around, bumping each other and the custom agents treating people as if they were criminals (a little late for that don’t ya think?). I felt myself be hugged and kissed by my aunt and uncle whom I hadn’t seen in four years since they moved to the USA running away from the Colombia guerrillas and the many deaths they had brought to their family. My cousins smiled at me and I tried to smile back. We got to the car after getting lost in the gigantic parking lot, the size of it overwhelming my already overloaded emotions and giving me a peek of USA’s excesses.

Nausea was rolling in and out of me like waves, my face losing and gaining color with it. My uncle only driving at 45 miles per hour but I could see only blurs of light. I looked around the window, trying to find something familiar even though I hadn’t been there before, searching for the familiar shadow of the looming mountains, not knowing, not expecting Miami to be as flat as a pancake, I could find nothing. All I could see was the bottomless distance, nothing to get in the way of my searching eyes and the light of the houses miles and miles away.

My body had a tingling sensation; I could feel my skin prickling with the rush of blood and my heart pumping so hard I could hear the roar in my ears. I was getting dizzy and found myself gulping for air, realizing I had been holding my breath. My misery knew no depths; I could hear my uncle and my aunt talking animatedly with my mom and my cousin laughing while the other sketched in a pad. I got distracted by her pictures and the characters that came to life before my eyes. The slam on the brakes brought me back to reality and all of the sudden the knowledge of being here was too much to bear.

"I need to go to the bathroom" I croaked. The van was silent. Everybody listening to the first words I had spoken since jumping in the stupid plane that brought me here. God I could’ve argued harder, I could’ve fought dirtier, I could’ve told my dad he was a bad father, which always worked before! I could've ran away, I could've stayed at my friend’s house. Anything, anything was better than this foreign smell, and the noises and the freaky flatness. Everything was better than this horrible humidity that was making my hair do things I didn’t know it was capable of doing. "We are close to home now" My uncle said with his raspy smoker voice even though he doesn’t smoke. "I reaaaaally need to go" I said. 'Is not home, is not home!!!!!' I screeched in my head while my face remained impassive. I was having trouble breathing and feeling anxious, my mom’s and my aunt’s laughter felt like nails on a chalkboard. The silence of my sketching cousin felt like a wall I could lean on. My stomach rolled and salty saliva pooled in my mouth. I knew swallowing would mean throwing up in the car, so I sat there with my mouth full and my head pounding so hard I could feel it in my sinuses. A tear clung to my eyelash and in the blissful darkness of the car I rubbed my eyes. My uncle finally stopped at a gas station taking his sweet time to park. I had the door open before he had fully stopped.
 I jumped out and ran into someone. The dirty guy looked at my boobs and said something dirty and walked away. My uncle jumped out of the car to - I assume defend my honor- and I swallowed.

My stomach rejected everything, the salty saliva, the dirty man and his roving eyes, the salty smell of Miami and its sticky humid air. I projectile vomited on the sidewalk and felt my ears ringing. I kneeled on the floor without feeling the gravel denting my hands. I thought and felt nothing while retch after retch wracked my stomach. Empty of food and feeling I sat back on the floor, the cool feeling of the metal door of the car a balm against my hot cheek. I didn’t notice until later my cousin holding my hair. "Airplane food" Someone said.

I blinked the tears away, refusing, as if my life depended on it, to let them fall. I felt miserable but better. I avoided the pity looks in my family’s faces and took the bottle water someone offered. I avoided their glares and sat there as if picnicking next to my throw-up. I stared at the lit sign of Chevron until it blurred away.
Welcome to America.


talia said...

jesus! what a horrible experience. i also threw up, but for different reasons xD I was only eight when i came to live here. I was sad, but I don't think I was able to begin to comprehend what moving here for good meant. I was used to moving around by then so I just accepted the fact halfheartedly. I guess it was easier on me than on the rest of my family. But anyway, we drove all the way from Mexico City to California, and the first thing we ate when we crossed the border in Juarez was McDonald's...naturally >.> i remember i had some chicken nuggets and can remember so vividly how disgusted I was at the mere sight of them. I couldn't believe that was "chicken" but I was so damn hungry I had one which then ended up on the side of the road after it had been partially digested. i still don't like chicken nuggets.

Mel82 said...

Oh chicken nuggets! Who can resist the cloying riddle of what really is in those clumps of meat.

Food tasted funky to me when I first moved, the bananas didnt taste sweet, the meat tasted like medicine, the cheese was too sharp. I dont know if it was all in my head or what.

8 yrs old is so young to move another country! Were you excited or just scared shitless?

Mel82 said...
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