About Being an Immigrant

About 6 years ago today I arrived in Chicago. Let me tell you, it went by faster than I was expecting and hoping. As I sit here to make a reflection of this time, I’m overwhelmed with memories.

In 2014, I moved to Marietta, Georgia. When I told my boss here in Chicago that I was leaving, he looked at me and said loud and clear “You are going to HATE it over there.” I kept myself positive, I usually don’t let people tell me what to do, or how to feel, but unfortunately, he was right. I kept his words flying around my brain.

The first minute there, my boyfriend, now husband, got hit by a car and went flying in the air. It was about 6am, it was still dark and we were walking back from the rental place. First mistake: walking. You are never, ever allowed to walk in Georgia. Not in the daylight, not in the sunlight. The lady who hit him, in a big SUV, said she thought he was a squirrel.

He miraculously got up, walk a few steps to the curb and check to see if he had broken anything. I yelled in desperation so loud the car stopped and she reversed. She saw us, but she didn’t want to open the window, as she was scared. Well, lady, you just hit my boyfriend, you should help. She didn’t.

A few minutes later, the ambulance, the police, and the firefighters were there. My boyfriend was in an ambulance, getting his vitals checks, being taken care of and I was seating there waiting for my destiny to be decided. They asked me about my I.d. That’s when my heart raced, I felt a cold wave in through my body. I still shake while I’m writing this.

“I have my passport,” I said in a complete frozen situation. My body shut down. I felt like I was going to faint. I was out of status for over a year now. Out of status meaning, you came over, you overstayed your visa, and you try to go ahead and have a normal life. It was possible in Chicago, why would it not be possible in Georgia? Because it’s the South of the United States, my friends. They don’t like immigrants,  they make sure to let you know you don’t belong.

After that incident, I went home and I cried. My boyfriend was fine, I was the one wrecked. I have never been so scared in my life. What if the police saw my expired visa? What if they asked for another document? What if I was taken to jail and deported? So many thoughts and I immediately regretted to have moved there. The next four years it would be me, trying to get out of there.

Yes, sure, it was not all bad. I made a couple of friends, that I love and cherish, that helped me out more than they think. Destiny, Maria, and Brenda were the ones saving me. We went for coffee, walked the square and laughed, and they sure made my days better, even if it was just for a morning.

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Brenda taught me, through her experience, that if you don’t have an American accent, you fake it one. “Talk like those White Girls,” she said, “It always works.” Well, I tried her theory over the phone with the Western Union attendant.  It works like a charm. What point did we get, that if we have an accent we are not heard or respected?

See you next week.

JS

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