Because my husband can't travel to the US and I can't afford to take 2 vacations, we always vacation separately. He goes to Parral in the summer and I spend my time in the burbs of Kansas City. Always apart. He takes his 10 hour bus trip alone. I drag my overstuffed luggage through the airport alone. He greets his family at the Central Camionera with kisses on the cheek, "Que muchas saludas de Emily." I hug my family on the curb of KCI, "Gordo says hi and he wishes he were here." I suppose it's not as lonely as I'm making it sound, but when we're not together, somethings not quite right.
I'm not a hopeless romantic and we definitely aren't the types to stroll through the streets of Juarez hand in hand, sneaking besos or anything like that, but we belong together. That's blatantly obvious to both of us whenever we're apart. We've been vacationing separately for 20 of the the last 35 days and damn it if I didn't miss that little fucker. On the 2nd weekend he was gone, I felt as though I was beginning to lose my mind. I'd gotten over the thrill of being able to have a Real Housewives marathon on Vimeo without listening to his complaints or cooking whatever I felt like for dinner. After just a few days of living like a bad ass bachelorette, I was tired of having no one to bicker with, no one to make me laugh.
In 2007 my husband was given a voluntary departure by ICE. Given. Now that's a funny concept, isn't it? As if it were a gift or something. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. How long can you live in the shadows of Maricopa County under the reigns of Sheriff Joe before shit hits the fan? I should have expected it. I should have been prepared. Well, I wasn't. I actually did lose my mind that time around.
After crying hysterically on the phone with my mom and on Skype with my dad for hours and hours and having the panic attack to end all panic attacks, I went into a state of deep depression. In the months that followed I spent my days staring off into space at work and crying quietly to myself far too much. I didn't want to eat. I didn't want to talk to anyone but my closest friends and family. I didn't want to sleep. I didn't want to be. Not because I'm so dependent that I can't handle being without him for a period of time, but because I had no clue how long that time would be. Initially, I didn't know where he was, or if he was safe, or scared, or lonely, or even when I would see him again. I felt more out of control than I had ever felt in my life. And I am one hell of a control freak. He was stuck somewhere in the system and without any documentation, without a Social, he was just a ghost, just another immigrant lost in the in-between. All I could do was sit, and pace, and cry, and wait.
When he finally called me from a pay phone in Nogales, it was as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. He was alive. He was back on the map. He was going to be okay. I scrounged up just enough money for a bus ticket back to Parral, and for a brief moment, all was right in the world. I knew he was safe. It was in that moment that I also knew I had done the right thing and that this man was the love of my life. This is when my life was forever changed, because I knew that sooner or later, a change was gonna come.SC
I would be moving to Mexico.
I wasn't able to move right away. We had to save some money first. We realized, without a doubt, that we couldn't be apart. I think that up until this point, up until this separation, a part of me thought we might be able to do the long distance thing that so many of my friends in mixed-status marriages have been able to pull off. I would take frequent trips from Gilbert to Parral, we would Skype every day, absence makes the heart grow fonder, you get the idea. But once we were in the thick of that separation, I realized that a long-distance romance wasn't an option for us. I don't know if it's because we're not strong enough or because our love is too strong, but I knew we wouldn't last. Not like that. And so began our plans to move to the border.
Flash forward 5 years to today... I was doing an interview with a reporter from the El Paso Times and the reporter asked me if I had any regrets about marrying my husband, if I had any regrets about moving to Mexico? I was almost surprised at how quickly I responded. How could I regret any of this? How could I regret that we wanted to be together so much, that we loved each other so much, we fought for what we wanted, for what we were meant to have? We did whatever we had to do to stay together. How could I regret following my heart? I can't and I never will.
We're not some super couple. Even after all these years of fighting to be together, we still fight with each other like any other couple. Even though we came home from vacation missing each other like crazy, it only took a day or so before we started arguing about who forgot to feed the dogs, or who forgot to lock the deadbolt on the front door or what movie we're going to watch on Movie Night. Sometimes I feel like we should be a bit more grateful for our love and quash the arguments before they begin, but let's be honest. We're not that mature. I'm certainly not that reasonable. He's certainly not that logical. I guess that sometimes this is what it's like when you find your media naranja, your soul mate. You become best friends. You fight big but you love bigger. I can't believe it took me so long to figure it out, but I finally realized why I love Ray so much... why I followed him to Juarez and why I'd follow him to the end of the Earth.
He is my home.