What to do? What to do?! God, to say I panicked is a giant understatement. I ranted, I pleaded, I was rational, then hysterical, I tried talking, I tried yelling, but the fact was that with or without my cooperation my then tiny ass was going to be on that plane come April the 28. I guess I could’ve said no, I could’ve done whatever I wanted! I was 18 years old and by law old enough to make my own decisions. In reality I was an 18 year old college dropout that had never done a day of honest working in her entire life, didn’t even know how to operate the washer machine, let alone find a way to live on my own in a unstable country with no money.
So I plotted (my favorite hobby that I guess I inherited from my dad) and figured that even if I came here, I wouldn’t stay for long, my sister would never allow my dad to send her to the US and my mom wouldn’t want to go without my sister so I was safe. This was just a trip, a short vacation.
Little did I know that my father for the first time in his life would put his foot down and say he would not finance a trip to Spain, and left my mom with the option of staying home with things as they were, or come to North America.
The day before the trip I was still treating it as a vacation and excited about the shopping and beaching. My mom came to my room and sat down and told me this was IT. This was me leaving; this was me saying goodbye to home, to my friends, to my two Weiner dogs, to my mountains, this was it. I sputtered. What? I wasn’t going to get my way? (Welcome to grown up life Mel, as it happens that would be the first of many, many times in the next six years that nothing would go as I wanted it) I was pissed!, all those times when I got what I wanted and what I wanted hadn’t been that important and this time, when it meant everything I was going to fail?. What about Karol? I asked wondering about my sister. "Don't worry. She’ll come". My mom said.
How wrong she was. Oh how little we knew my sister and her stubborn nature and how little we know of her convictions and how committed she was to her plans to go to Spain. She wouldn’t go. I didn’t know that when I had said goodbye to her 2 months before when she went to school to Colombia it would be the last time I would hug her and touch her and hold her hand for five more years.
So there I sat, on my way to Miami, Florida. Capital city of the world’s immigrants. Leaving everything I knew and loved behind, friends, and family, first love, pets, corners, my Avila, my valley, my mountains, my streets and malls. Leaving myself behind. No one would know me; I would be another immigrant, another wet back, even if I didn’t cross the Rio Grande. Anonymity promised to swallow me whole like I was nothing. I would not go out to places and run into people I knew anymore. One of my first lessons here was that, I learned I would painfully miss that small pleasure of seeing a familiar face in a random place in the streets. I learned that I would be no one, no one. The knot in my throat was chocking me. Being as proud as you can only be when you are 18, I refused to cry, the lack of breath making me dizzy. If I breathe I’ll cry, if I cry I won’t leave.
I thought of making a scene. My dad wouldn’t drag me by the hair. I looked at my mom from the corner of my eye, she totally would. I discarded that idea, raking my brain for a plan. I had to do something! I couldn’t go; I didn’t want to go, not to the US. Not here, not with gringos (no offense). This is not what I wanted. Oh God, please help me! Please, please help me!
I think the only reason that I finally walked into that plane was the many times I repeated in my head the conversations I had with my friends when I said goodbye to them, how happy they were for me and how much they wished it was them.
This is good (right?). This will be good, we’ll be good. I tried foolishly to convince myself. U.S.A is good. U-S-A! U-S-A! I chanted to myself.