Everyone has mixed feelings about change. My mixed feelings back in 2010 were about moving away from Mexico. I could not understand, at the mature age of eight, why my dad was moving us to a new country. I could not decide if this was a new opportunity or a chunk of myself being removed. At the beginning I was happy. What kid doesn’t want to move closer to Disney World? Looking back six years later I have begun to realize many of the things I have gained and lost from moving to a new country.
The day before I moved was sunny, with few clouds in the sky and a cool breeze. It was ironic really how the day before everything would change in my life the world kept on going without a care. Mexico was a place where I fit in so seamlessly that my heart clenches at just remembering. The day before I moved I had said my final goodbyes to my family, my friends, and my home. My friends at school had made me a huge going away card. My name was spiraling on top with vibrant bubbled letters. Polka dots and swirling colors decorated the edges and added the touch of creativity only kids can add. My friends wrote little notes, detailing them with jokes and well wishes. Even the teachers confusing cursive lined the corners saying goodbye. I remember taking out my huge card and reading over the notes. I knew who wrote each little one.
The morning I moved I was no longer at my house. I was staying with my cousins, mine had already been packed up and stood empty. I remember waking up thinking I was ready to face the new day. Breakfast was quiet and awkward. All I could hear were the hushed whispers of the adults from the stove. Me and my brothers stood there frozen, unable to even consume the small amount of eggs in front of us. Suddenly my morning rushed past and I was standing at the door saying goodbye to my uncle, aunt, and cousin. My brothers started grinning excited for a new adventure. I was confused, trying to hold in tears and put on a small smile. All the other times I had said goodbye to my cousin it would mean I would see him on the bus the next morning, were he would sit next to me and put his arm around me. We boarded the car while my aunt waved at us from the house. I was sitting in the back seat, my eyes slammed shut, feeling like nothing more than just a porcelain statue. I was fragile and still. I knew I would break with a single thing.
Mexico is my home. There everyone is family. We had barbecues every weekend and no goodbye was ever permanent. The culture of my country had never seemed to stand out more than in those last few days. The food, the colors, the language. I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. The car sped through the freeway, leaving the only roads I had ever known behind me like broken dreams. The airport only seemed to be getting closer when all I wanted to do was disappear.
I admit, it was exciting when I heard we were moving to Florida. A land that seemed like a fairy tale come true. It had sparkling beaches, Disney World around the corner, and exotic new people. My eyes had at one point gleamed and my happiness could not have been extinguished. Then I realized all I had to give up and my heart stopped. There would be no more Posadas at Christmas, or Día de los Muertos. I would not be able to see my friends, my family. The barbecues would become nothing more than just a distant memory. These thoughts swirled around my head on the car ride, destroying everything I knew and all the hope I had.
Suddenly my thoughts stopped as my dad parked the car announcing our arrival. He seemed to want us to be cheery, it was his job moving us to a new country. We unloaded the car and my brothers smiles never faltered. Their joy made me want to smile, to be as happy as they were. A smile began to adorn my lips. The mantra I repeated was that this was an opportunity, however it did nothing to ease my butterflies. As optimistic as I wanted to be my brain could not change from it’s shocked stage. This was actually happening, and I was processing it in the middle of an airport gripping a poor chair to death.
The plane started boarding and I took one last look out the window. The town I had grown up in stared back at me. It seemed to wave goodbye. It’s hills sloped and the grass swayed with a wind that whispered adieu. The last thing I remember seeing before entering my new life was El Nevado de Toluca. El Nevado is a dormant volcano that I had always believed protected my town. I got the sense as I boarded the plane that whatever I had believed in as a child I would keep on believing. That the volcano, no matter how far away, would protect me. That, beyond everything, it would protect the culture I cherish and the person I want to reflect in a different environment.
In the United States I met my best friend, who always keeps me on my feet with our different opinions. I managed to learn a second language which was something I would have never imagined before. I have learned that in this age we all have to be able to accept different cultures seamlessly. To see differences in people, and be able to embrace who they are, is something I needed to assimilate myself with to seamlessly fit into two different cultures.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to decide if my move was an opportunity or a removal from something that had sustained me for the longest time. I want to say it was a removal, that there was so much I lost to this new country I can never get back, but then I start reflecting. I begin to see the numerous opportunities that I have gained here that I did not have in Mexico. Now I look at where I stand. I have tried to push myself to prove I am more than just an immigrant girl with a strange tongue. Moving was a shot, a long one at that, to change my life around. The piece that was taken from me by making this move is one I will never get back. However, every change that happens in life just leads towards countless possibilities to paths I can take.
I no longer remember the names of my friends who decorated the beautiful card. Yet I still chose to hang it in my room. Looking at it brings the most unbelievable sense of joy and longing. I have no more cousins at my house every weekend, I don’t even call them. I go back home and I will stand fascinated at everything I missed. The food, the culture, the colors. I let myself breathe them in with every one of my returns. I let myself get lost in my home, not worrying about the United States. Not worrying about how in a different country I am still an outsider, how I never fit into a social structure.
In Mexico I am the girl running around the markets buying beaded bracelets and eating dulces de tamarindo. In Mexico I am the girl laughing with my cousins until I can’t breathe, their arms around me, protecting me. In Mexico I find the missing pieces I lost when crossing the border into a land that I will always find strange. In the United States I am still the Mexican girl I tried so long to hide. And in Mexico I let that girl go free, and maybe that’s why I will always miss home.