Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Balancing Act

It started last Saturday night. We were leaving a 4 year old's birthday party, leading a caravan of exiled mixed-status families when the Policia Municipal pulled all of us over. Everyone else was waved on as they kept Ray and I back. They asked where we were coming from. They asked where we were going. We both took our first Mexican breathalyzer tests. The police officer made a loose fist and held it to our mouths.

Sopla fuerte.

(The officer smelled his hand)

Bueno, andan bien. Eres Americana?

Si.

Bajase.

And so Gordo got out of the truck as ordered. He talked with the officers for a few minutes and while he was ten feet deep in negotiations, I noticed that our friends hadn't left. I was in shock and grabbed my phone to text them to move along, we'll be fine. I wasn't so sure. But our friends didn't budge. A while later, we paid a $30 mordida and were on our way. I was scared of course, but more amazed at the fact that our new friends stayed back to make sure we got out of there okay. That meant a lot to me. I know how intimidating it is to be in a neighborhood in Juarez that you're not familiar with. And I know how intimidating the police are here. So the fact that they waited for us was a big deal to me. It turned what would have been a horrible experience into an eye-opening, wonderful thing.

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My car has made questionable noises since we moved to Mexico. Waiting in line to cross an international border takes a toll on any vehicle. Bumpy pavement full of potholes and the occasional unpaved road add to the problem. I've had my fair share of car problems over the last 3 years and as I've said before, being without a vehicle is my number one fear in life. I know that sounds insane and I know it's a fear I have to get over, but I'm just not there yet. In the last couple of weeks the noises had been getting worse. The car was shaking uncontrollably when in idle, even shutting off at times if I didn't throw it into neutral. This put me in quite the pickle while waiting in line to cross into El Paso every morning, not to mention waiting in line to cross back into Mexico each evening.

I had been ignoring the problem because, quite frankly, we didn't have the money to fix the car even if we knew what was wrong with it, so what's the point in trying to figure it out, right? Pretty stupid way of thinking. I see that now. My family urged me to take the car to a mechanic, insisting that finances always had a way of figuring themselves out. In desperation, I finally took their advice. I took it to a reputable taller in San Lorenzo, Servi Compactos, and was told they would get back to me with a verdict and the estimate.

I was frustrated and nervous and feeling like it was the end of the world. I know that sounds dramatic, but without a vehicle, I have no way to get to work. The buses in Juarez don't start running early enough to get me to the bridge in time to cross and catch another bus that would get me to the office by 8 am. The transit system between these sister cities don't really accommodate banker's hours. A vehicle is a must. And without the wages that I earn in the US, where would we be? My husband's earnings barely begin to cover our rent. That's why I flip a shit every time my car rumbles a bit.

In the midst of my frustration and fear, I was comforted by the fact that I have family who is willing to lend a helping hand. I have friends who are willing to switch around their schedules so that they can give me a ride to and from work. I am not alone in this city. I am not destitute. I can ask people for help. And it's okay to ask for help. I'm learning that. And now the week is over, and my car is fixed. It did work out. It will always work out. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

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On an evening where a few nasty emails were trickling in here and there, I got an email from a high school student in the US. He had to listen to my podcast as an assignment for his Spanish class. He explained that he had a very conservative view of illegal immigration and admitted that he went into the assignment already determined that he would hate my husband and I. He wasn't even sure why he felt compelled to email me in the first place. He felt that we deserved everything we had coming to us.

This young man was surprised when he found himself feeling sorry for our situation. Although he went into the assignment thinking that my husband was a person who broke the law and shouldn't be allowed to live in the US, he came out realizing that my husband isn't a bad person. Ray just wanted to better his life and the life of his family. In the end, he came out of it all thinking that it's an injustice that it's been so difficult for Ray to do things "the right way." He came out respecting us and the love we have for one another.

While I don't think anyone needs to feel sorry for us, I was completely shocked that our story had caused someone to question their opinion and to see beyond the black and white of immigration law. And I swear that if the only reason any of this happened was for this one boy to see a different side of the coin, it was all worth it. If the only reason we moved to Mexico or the only reason I began this blog was because this one person was supposed to read it, I feel fulfilled and content with my life.

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It was one of those weeks where something really shitty kept happening. But then out of nowhere, something amazing happened to balance out the negative. It was one of those weeks where I saw God everywhere, in everything and in everyone. I believe that He is always trying to balance things out, sometimes it's just difficult to see. At times it's seemingly impossible to detect. But it is. The good will outweigh the bad, sometimes you just have to wait for it.




20 comments:

  1. How beautiful and inspiring!! LOL at the part with the mexican breathalizer test!!! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. I thought that was pretty funny myself! Thank YOU for reading!

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    2. My husband always says that one thing Mexico will teach you is "como vivir por puro milagro." And so far, gracias a Dios, it works!
      Once again, thanks for sharing

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  2. We'll change the public's way of thinking, even if one at a time.

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  3. Xoxo -Have faith, do not despair.
    Trust in the Lord.
    That's a verse that keeps me going a lot, even though I'm not super religious.

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    1. I'm not religious but I am extremely spiritual. That is a fantastic verse. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Emily, another great post. The high school student reminds me of what happened on that show by Morgan Spurlock called 30 Days (it's on Netflix) where he took two seemingly opposite people and made them live together for a month, filming the whole thing.

    In one episode, he had one of these border watcher people live with a family of illegal/undocumented (whatever the correct verbiage is) and the guy was a changed man when it was over.

    Your blog (and the TAL episode) shows us that you and Ray are more than just people caught up in a jacked up immigration situation that is often hard for even the most adamant immigration foes to understand, but rather that you are just two people in love, trying to live life with the cards dealt you.

    I for one am not surprised that a young person given a little information rather than a bunch of talking points would come to the conclusion he did.

    Glad your car got fixed and glad you got to see the good in people this week.

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    1. Thank you Dave. Always love your take on things. As always, thanks for the response.

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  5. What great friends. I'd like to think that I have friends that would do the same. I saw your news clip. You looked so pretty. It was nice to see your blog come to life.

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    1. Haha on the news clip. Thank you! It was definitely interesting to watch that clip!

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  6. Emily, thanks for this post. It made me feel happy that I had a hand in getting your and Gordo's story out to the world. (PS: Why did that damned chota stop you??? Do tell! If you know.)

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    1. Thank you for helping to get out the story! Ayyy la chota... who knows? We were leaving a birthday party with several other American/Mexican families who are newer to the area and so we left in a group so that we could direct everyone to a main road. I think the cops just saw the caravan of Texas plates and saw dollar signs.

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  7. I LOVE your blog! You've inspired me to get one!

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  8. This post was a breath of fresh air! I so admire your consistently positive outlook! The story about the high school student was A - MAZING!!!

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    1. Thank you! I was beyond touched by his email.

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  9. I hear you on the car problems!!!! Have had many, many in the last two years and you are right that border wait is hard on them....being without a car is one of my fears too:)

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    1. It's the biggest fear of mine. I feel like everything else in life can be conquered! LOL, I get a little dramatic about this subject :D

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