Saturday, August 10, 2013

The New Black

I was watching Orange Is the New Black just now when suddenly the computer froze and the screen went black. Thank you Cablemas. I was halfway through Episode 13 and suddenly left with only a reflection of myself on the laptop when it hit me.

A couple episodes back Piper mentioned to a teenage delinquent that the scariest thing about prison isn't the other inmates and what they might do to you. The scariest thing about prison is that you realize who you really are because you have nowhere to run. Nothing to distract yourself with. No Twitter, no family, no Facebook drama, no 9 to 5, no carting the kids off to football practice.

It's just you.

And while I shouldn't dare to compare the life of an exiled wife of an undocumented immigrant to prison life, here I am. This life might not be prison, but it has it's limitations. You can only go so far and you can only do so much when you are trapped in a country that isn't your own. You are suddenly forced to realize what you're made of. To realize how you react to things. To realize what you want. To realize what you need.

To realize who you are.

And that, that right there, is what's hard about life in Mexico for me. I want to be the strong woman. The one who doesn't need a bathtub. The one who doesn't need Sunday dinner at mom's. The one who doesn't need health insurance. The one who doesn't need a garage. The one who doesn't need a fancy gym membership. The one who doesn't need date night at AMC and Chili's.  The one who doesn't need to own a home. The one who doesn't need stability or to know what's going to happen tomorrow.

But then I see my reflection. I see that I'm not that strong woman. And I see that I'm a little sad still. Deep down under all that positivity. I'm a little pathetic. A little desperate. A little jealous. A little tired.

And in that moment... that exact moment... I realize that I'm just me. This is all I can be in this moment.

Even if it's not exactly who I want to be.

35 comments:

  1. Wow!! I am so grateful for your words. As an American also living in Juarez I feel the exact same way, but have never been able to put those feelings into words. Thank you Em for being the voice for all of us!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. so wait, you didn't finish the last episode yet?? I'm about to watch it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't. There is a small window of opportunity each day in which my internet flows fast enough for Netflix and it's done. Such a bitch. I can't wait to see the rest!

      Delete
  3. Pretty sad about the lack of health insurance, Emily. I mean, you're not just in Mexico. Mexico is just the love part. You're also working in the USA. In El Paso. Full time. And they don't give you affordable health insurance? Don't blame that on Mexico or on deportation. That's just our barbaric health-care system. In the good old USA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually have health insurance although I can't usually afford to take advantage of it. But it's there nonetheless. I was referring to my husbands situation in this blog. He has something, I don't know what it's called here in Mexico, through his work, but the doctor's don't know what they're talking about, they over medicate, they don't listen to the patients, etc. I can't tell if it's insurance or shut-up-the-poor-care. There are some blogs about his health scares from the last couple of years that would shed some more light on that.

      But I totally know what you're talking about as a lot of my friends working in El Paso do not have health insurance through their employers. It's sad really.

      Delete
  4. I found your blog (I finished reading it in one night) a couple of weeks ago. I look forward to reading your post every week. I love that I get to see the human side of the immigration issue. Stay strong!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We love Orange is the New Black. Hopefully you'll get to finish the season without further interruption. Of course, the downer is, you'll have to wait until the next season starts.

    Although I hate that you are forced into our situation by our crappy laws, I do believe that every American should have to live in another country at least briefly (a year) in order to appreciate the things you mention. Like Chili's and AMC.

    During my military career, I lived in England for 2 years, Italy for 3 years and South Korea for a year, plus some brief time in Bosnia. I think I missed the convenience of being able to go to a 7-11 at any time of the day or night, the most. When I was living overseas, there was no Internet and phone calls were costly. It was like being totally isolated. I recall sitting in my dorm room in Korea thinking that I was in prison, because the isolation was about the same.

    10 years of this seems excessive. I get the whole thing about some people trying to do a fake marriage in order to get into the country, but I think you and your husband have paid enough penance. In a parallel to Piper's incarceration and our screwed up drug laws, is there not a judge out there that could grant some sort of relief?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right about people needing to live in another country for a time. It's definitely changed my perspective, for the better I would say.

      Unfortunately there is no way around the section of the law that is affecting us. 9cii. It's not up to a judge to review our case or anything like that. I really wish it was.

      Delete
  6. I often feel I am of two minds and preferences-There is a large part of my "makeup" the craves the simplicity of lessened choices, of working with what I have and being a "non consumer"-I heard about this blog through NPR- I have devoured each of Emily's entry and admired the strength of her convictions. If it it were my world , there would be no borders-anywhere-And I agree about "Orange is the New Black"- it is going to be a long wait for season 2-thought provoking `show- peace to you all

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the fact that you are brave enough to think and write about the "not strong" parts of you are a testament to your strength. Keep going lady you are stronger than you give yourself credit for :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good Luck! You make your own choices in life and you have made yours. Not for everybody, but life is often what you make it. It would bug me that I have committed to my spouses native language but it doesn't appear that they reciprocate. Not meaning to sound negative but it all sounds a bit subservient to me. I hope you are still blogging in 5 years. I really want to know how it has all worked out.
    I am not American but I understand that if you want to go home at night and feel safe then theres got to be rules including rules that sometimes don't make sense. Really hope this has a very happy ending.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. My husband has tried to reciprocate, he really has. He's taken English classes, invested in Ingles Sin Barreras, etc, but he just can't seem to grasp the language. I think some people are more apt to learn other languages than others. My father is the perfect example. He is a missionary and has been living in Central & South America for the last 13 years and he is still far from being bilingual, even after so many years. His wife is a Native Spanish speaker as well. If anything it has to be said that more people in this world speak Spanish than English so if we're looking at the bigger picture, if someone was going to learn the other's language, it was more beneficial for me to be the one.

      It's funny because I am SO far from subservient. I'm quite the control freak and really have to watch myself and my attitude/behavior with my husband. I have to be honest and say that I'm not always proud of how I talk to him. If anything I think I should be more reserved and hush up once in a while.

      Hopefully you will stick around and maybe even read some older posts so that you have a better grasp of who we are.

      Delete
  9. I think its incredibly courageous of you to be so open about your life. I too heard your story on NPR and cannot stop thinking of your situation. My dad is also from the state of Chihuahua, and having spent many vacations there with my family growing up it breaks my heart that as an adult I've not been back in 10 years. My dad was lucky when he made trip to the US 40 years ago. What I wanted to know (without judgement ) is how you deal and get through and even justify leaving your son. Meaning how long could you be without him? Please understand this questions comes from someone who also left her child in the care of her father for 9 months. I was moving out of state and needed to secure a nice home, work ect... those 9 months seemed like a lifetime with out my girl. It all worked out (this was 17 years ago). I can't wait to learn of your wonderful outcome if life. Best of luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not living with my son has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to overcome in my life. I go back to visit as often as possible, but as you can imagine, it never quite feels often enough. I have never blogged about the subject because I am not ready to and I may never be, but I will say that my son living in the US has nothing to do with my husband, my marriage, immigration, Mexico or Juarez. I did not abandon my son to run off with my lover to Mexico (not that you are suggesting this but trust me, I've gotten a lot of emails on the subject.)

      I had my son as a teenager when I was at a terrible stage of my life. I struggled with drug addiction and had a volatile relationship with his father that ended traumatically and with a prison sentence for him. It was in my son's best interest to stay with family for a period of time, prior to me even meeting my husband. As time went on and I got my life together, I wanted to have my son living with my again, but doing so would have been the most selfish thing I could have done and not in his best interest. He is thriving with my family and thinks of his cousins as his brothers.

      He has a much better quality of life that he would have had if he would have been with me during that entire time period. So how do I deal with it? I don't really have an answer for that. I take it one day at a time and try to look at the bigger picture. I try to make decisions with his best interest at heart because it's not about me and about what would make me happy.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for addressing my question as I'm sure its not an easy or ideal situation.
      This immigration issue is very dear to my heart since I did mention my dad is from Mexico but was fortunate not to have to go through what many others are going through in order to better their lives and livelihoods. I admire my dad for crossing the boarder despite the resistance he received from Gringos. Funny, I went on to marry my husband who was not born in this country but from former Yugoslavia. He too is a supporter of Immigration reform.
      I also mentioned I left my daughter for a period of time to better my situation and what that taught me is that sometimes in life you made difficult choices and decisions to better the outcome of our lives. For me it did just that as it will with your husbands immigration issues.
      Emily, thank you for speaking up and out. Your way about this is so raw, honest and refreshing.

      Delete
  10. Hi Emily, I just found your blog through the This American Life piece you did. So interesting! It's very brave of you to do what you are doing for love, even if you might not think so. I think you have a pair of big round ovaries. :P Looking forward to other posts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't usually say much online, but something about y'all's story just makes me feel compelled to do just that. My husband and I also heard your story on TAL, and I have spent the last couple of days neglecting my housework (oops) to start from the beginning of your blog. When my husband asked how it was, I replied, "I l like it. I started at the beginning. She's real. She's honest, and she dedicated one blog post to finding a hamburger so she's my kind of girl." This blog, of course, is so much more than that, and I hope that the positive comments I've seen far outweigh the negative, judgemental ones. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Thank you! Glad to have you around :)

      Delete
  12. Hey! I would love to listen to your interview you did for Radio Ambulante. This link you posted in reply to a different post doesn't work https://soundcloud.com/radioambulante/promo-juarez

    Do you happen to have a different link??

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was actually pulled. Creative differences between the producers. Sorry!

      Delete
  13. Dang, girl. You're only human. Go easy on yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I live in El Paso and read about you in the Times a couple of weeks ago. I read through all your blog within a few days. And WOW! Although I live on the border, I didn't realize there were families such as yours going through these types of ordeals and challenges. I am amazed at your positive outlook, strength, and courage in many of your posts. And you're one funny girl too! This post in particular made me tear up. My heart goes out to you! Reality sucks sometimes and the next few years are sure to bring more challenges but keep on facing them head on. You've done a magnificent job and I can't wait for 2020!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, so much! We'll have to keep in touch so that you can come to Gordo's welcome home party!! 2020 :)

      Delete
  15. I heard your story from This American Life today. It was one of those little moments when I felt that God was giving me a little help, a little relief, someone to relate to. I've needed that so badly. I moved to Puerto Rico almost a year ago to be with my boyfriend (ahh what we do for love haha) and it's been pretty hard for me. There are 10,000 things that are different from my home back in the USA that I have to contend with everyday. There are 10,000 things that I miss everyday. It's been so hard for me to see the 10,000 blessings I get here everyday. I wanted to think that I was up for this challenge, that I was adventurous and brave. However, what I really am is a girl who wants a bathtub. A girl who want air conditioning. And also a girl who believes in her man and a wonderful relationship. We will be moving back to the States soon enough. We are not kept here by circumstances like the ones you and your husband have. But I do feel bound here, for the time being anyway. Thank you SO, SO much for your decision and your story and for sharing it. What a little ray of light it is for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that anyone who has left the US behind, for whatever reasons, must go through the same things I have gone through. It's difficult to adjust to a new country, regardless of the circumstances. I wish you the best in your adjustment! Take care.

      Delete
  16. Hi Emily - I found you through TAL...I haven't listened to the story yet. I was reading the show summary when I saw the mention of your blog and I postponed listening to the show because reading through your blog seemed way more interesting. And it was!

    I saw that episode of Orange and felt the same exact way. I relocated across the country with my kids after a divorce - I just needed some space from everyone - so I moved to a place where I didn't know anyone. And it's so true - it is the scariest thing when you don't have the distractions of family and friends or anything familiar to turn to. It's been a long 2 years and I'm about ready to move back. I don't see it as giving up. I've given myself the opportunity to get clear on a lot of things. I've learned how much my family loves and supports me and who my true friends are. I've also discovered that I haven't always been the truest friend to some people. I know you've probably moved on from how you were feeling that day, watching that Orange episode, but when the feeling comes up again - and it will - try not to be so hard on yourself (and I'll do the same).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not giving up. That's for sure. I'm sure you've put a lot of time and thought in during the last 2 years and that always results in growth if you ask me. I think it's really admirable to admit your flaws so I really appreciate that. Thank you for the sound advice and good luck with your (possible?) move. Take care.

      Delete
  17. The loss gets better as time goes on. It's all a lesson in letting go... you can think of it religiously as in "letting God take control" or unselfishly as in "I can't control everything" or humanely as in "if others can live this way and be fine, then so can I."

    hang in there chica! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love, love, love this advice. And it's so PC, haha! You've considered every spiritual possibility, haven't you? Thank you!

      Delete