My American Dream

May 24, 2012
By carlisle3ldred BRONZE, Chester, New York
carlisle3ldred BRONZE, Chester, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"everything has beauty, just not everyone sees it."
"life's not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain."
"people judge far too quickly."

It was a harsh, bone chilling winter on my voyage to America, for the warmth of the daylight was short and was replaced by the bitter cold of the night. Food and water was scarce, as were clothes. Most of us packed lightly, if at all. You were to wear whatever you could find, or in most cases, you were to wear the only clothing on your back – whether it may be, that dingy old tee shirt with overalls you’ve been working your whole life in, or the only dress you own, reeking with a fresh mildew scent from all the rancid smells aboard. And who would’ve thought water would be anything less than abundant? Nearly every angle you turned water was visible, yet we were advised not to drink the liquid surrounding the vessel. As for the food, families were administered ration cards in order to keep track of where the food was allocated to – a loaf of bread and two cups of water would keep an average family of four going for a half a week. Hearing rumors of the more wealthy families aboard acquiring bigger rations was always inequitable to the others because hunger ran rampant through the ship. Those less fortunate who snuck their way onto the ship, ate the crumbs of other’s rations. Many died aboard from the famine and thirst on the six unkind months. Those who paid their way on the ship received food, and for those who snuck on were even aware of that, yet it hadn’t stopped them. They realized that life back home would be far more treacherous than these six death-filled months, for this trip was the last amount of hope most could find. The conditions and obstacles back in my home country were beyond horrific to handle. The voyage to America was our last option; it is this very voyage that kept the kindling fire alive in our hearts.

America, it is what everyone always dreamed of. It’s the blooming white flower I dreamt of on a murky raining day, the star that shone the brightest throughout the night, America is the promise of a better life. I knew it must be true… I’ve never heard anyone address it undesirably. The way my mother speaks of its name, so sweet it sounds in our mouths no one can surpass the chance to bounce it off their tongue every once in awhile. My father is ecstatic, I know he is, but he attempts to conceal that joyous feeling for the fear of what was to come of our arrival. He always tried to downplay things but I knew our American dream was bubbling up inside him.

Looking back on this day, I still remember the exact moment I stepped off the vessel onto American soil. The feeling of exhilaration and anxiety bursting through my veins, so unbearable I wasn’t able to move my stature. I was overwhelmed with fears, fearing fears I’ve never feared or even thought of beforehand. But the dreams my family has for me and my younger sister - dreams of a better life and to achieve that “American Dream” people are always talking about back home – that’s what compelled me to move and challenge my fears of this country.

I awoke experiencing a feeling I never once allowed myself to endure before now … safety. Even in the most unusual circumstance; for I awakened in another place, miles upon miles away… a place unfamiliar to me as well as my family, yet I was overcome by a rare sensation of comfort and security. Above all, I knew my family - I so well tried protecting all these years - was safe. That to me was a priority. That morning, the sun shone so vibrantly through the windows of our assigned cabin, as if it cordially was welcoming us. I took notice of Father and Mother, they were quite pleased, and by the way they revealed through their expressions, I knew everything was all right. We had spent the night in a cabin with a close friends of my grandmother, the Engliburgh’s. They came to America in earlier years, for the same reason my family had. They’ve allowed us to borrow one of their cabins until we make enough money to get back on our feet. This was our obstacle, attempting to make a living, to have enough food on our plates and not starve. I eventually acquired a job in the local bakery, contributing as much as I possibly could to my family’s income. The owners of the bakery always seemed to enjoy my presence even though immigrants were usually frowned upon, I guess for the same reason we used to frown upon Americans, but even Mother once told me, I had the ability to light up an entire room with my smile. And so I did, I kept my smile and they loved my work ethics. I was paid as much money as a native here would, even with speaking little to no English which was completely and utterly rare. Mother was worked at home while Father worked in the city. Eventually my sister went to school in America and learned more English than any one of us. She made it farther than I had in our American life, in fact, she became the best known doctor around. As years passed I realized it was not ‘our American Dream’ but rather just ‘mine’ and I attempted to make all I could of it. Eventually, I got an apartment in the city and was employed at a restaurant there. I was still unable to fluently speak English but I continued to learn more everyday. The restaurant supplied a sufficient income for my husband, son, and I, for we always had more than enough money to get by. Looking back on my life, I’ve learned an important aspect from my journey to America - that every one person has their own distinct perspective of the American Dream and becoming free was mine. . . Now you tell me, have you accomplished yours?

The author's comments:
In class, we were assigned to write about the American Dream. It was a simple task and a broad subject, so I tried twisting it a little to create a distinct view of it. I decided to write a short story, as if I were the narrator. I've lived in America my whole life, and I wanted to put myself in another person's shoes to display an immigrant's perception of the American Dream. I am not a firm believer in the American Dream, however I believe everyone has their own American Dream and their own perception as well as their own opinion on it.

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