Some eighteen years ago I got engaged to my hubby. I knew I was going to leave my family, my friends and my country when I married him, but at the very young age of twenty I truly didn’t know what all that meant until I actually did it.
I remember people saying that shopping in the U.S. was well, awesome. So I thought one day I may process my passport so I can go shopping on the other side of the wall.
Never even in my wildest dreams did I think of actually living in the states.
I will never forget the day I traveled to the border to process the fiancé visa. I stood in front of the immigration official as they looked at the dull picture of me in the document and then placed a stamp on it. “Welcome to America,” she said. I smiled at her and took the document in my hands and turned to my fiancé, now my hubby. I walked by his side as he beamed. It was done. All I had to do now was cross the border into my new life.
A friend of mine was driving us into the United States. He had traveled to visit several times, so he was familiar with the customs, while I was completely unaware that there where differences other than the language.
As I walked across the border I turned back and something inside of me broke. I looked up and saw a sign staying “Paso del Norte” and almost like a fish pulled by a hook my mind brought up the lyrics of a song I had heard many times during my childhood. Only, this time, it struck me like lightning. It wasn’t just a popular song, now I understood the meaning of the lyrics. The songs name was, Paso del Norte by Los Tigres del Norte, “The Northers Tigers”
I remembered the face of my mother and her eyes getting that gloss of tears when I left her at the bus station a couple days before, my father’s frown as he avoided eye contact, and my brother brushing his black hair back with his fingers, the way he does when he is nervous.
My life was changing and, at that moment, I realized that it was never going to be the same. I was not only getting married, I was leaving my country, favorite foods, friends, family, language, culture, climate, memories of the smell of roasted garlic on the fire and the roosters that woke me up every morning. It was all over.
I looked ahead and my friend asked, “Are you ready?” I said, “Yes,” but I wasn’t sure.
By then, the three of us were starving, so we decided the first thing we were doing in the states was to stop at a place to eat.
“What do you feel like eating?” my hubby asked.
“Maybe some nachos or perhaps some tacos?” I said, trying to keep up my spirits.
“Sure,” he said, “I’m sure we can find a Taco Bell some where close.”
“That sounds good to me.”
My friend smiled. “These are not the type of nachos or tacos you are used to. In fact, all the food you are going to try from this day on will never be the same as anything you ever had in your life.”
“Is that a good thing?” I mean it was just food right? Well, I was wrong.
“Wait and see,” he said.
So I did. We stopped at the closest Taco Bell we could find on our way and the hubby ordered a plate of nachos for me. Then a moment later he came to the table with a huge plate of the worse imitation of nachos I ever encountered in my entire life. They were covered with shredded cheese melted in a microwave or something. I stared at the plate for a long moment before I dared to taste a piece of chip. Then I looked at my friend and said, “I know what you mean now.” He was right, I was no longer in Mexico.
Fast-forward almost two decades later. I have gotten used to many things, and I have fallen in love with many other parts of the American culture. I have learned the language, and heck, I even became a writer.
Over the years I have learned to select the best parts of my two cultures. It is like eating spicy turkey on Thanksgiving, or adding jalapeños to my hamburgers. And, to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. The best part is that I no longer require a passport to go shopping.