We are coming back to The States.
We sat down as a family and talked & together have decided that Loki and I are going to go back to the United States indefinitely. Alejandro will work and live here & we will work and live there (Loki said, “you can’t forget about me, I want to work too!”). We will continue the process for the Greencard and remain a family, simply separated by distance.
We are under no illusions that it will be easy and we will take things one day/month/year at a time and see where we end up. However, we are not left with any other options – we have to go back. Financially we simply can’t survive here. That’s the crux of it.
I feel like I am a coastline being barraged by a tsunami… wave after wave, coming in fast and hard, just trying to catch my breath feeling one way, when another emotion hits and requires that I deal with it as well. I am feeling so many different ways all at once that it’s hard to know how I feel.
My best friend commented that I sounded relieved that a decision had been made… she’s amazingly perceptive… I am. It allows me to simply take a step in a direction and put action behind it. I need that. I have been on this roller coaster of emotions for a month now and I need a break. I am tired. It was the same as when I made the decision to come to Mexico – it settled things and I could take the steps I needed to in order to make that happen (only this time I don’t have nearly as much to do, haha!) There are a lot of logistics, but I am good at those and like my mom said, “once you make one decision, the rest of them fall into place.”
We have been talking about this for a month and finally, we left things alone and God sent people along our paths to help give us a path of peace. We have heard stories, listened to different perspectives and shared what we have going on. At the end of all that, we have settled cohesively into a decision. We will cross the border and head back to Oregon/Washington area and survive.
The truth is that we are all working here every day – I am teaching, Loki is baking, my husband is selling fruits and vegetables in order to make enough money to be able to sell tacos (cooking is a talent and passion of his)…. and it’s not enough. If we had the ability to simply live here and not worry about anything else on top of that, it would be enough. Barely, but enough. We wouldn’t be able to do much but it would keep us surviving. However, we don’t have that luxury. We still have bills back in the US – from the house we built, to lawyer fees, to storage cost, etc. Even if we only had our living costs here to worry about, the money we can make here is nothing. We work hard… and I mean, hard… here, day in and day out, and the money is so very little. I make roughly $2 an hour teaching, Loki makes about $1 an hour baking and selling, and although my husband is making better money than we are it’s only enough to feed and keep a roof over our heads and pay the bills. Although things cost “less” here if you compare them dollar to dollar, the money you can make isn’t enough to make up the difference. When you compare the cost of living, it’s really high compared to the ability to earn. So, after 5 months of trying – really trying – we are admitting defeat.
I never expected that all the things I knew I could do when coming here would be impossible! It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to work here. I have tried teaching – on my own (which I am doing, but only have a few steady students). I tried getting a job teaching, which I couldn’t do because my husband needed his paperwork before I could get mine and he still doesn’t have everything. On top of which, it’s very expensive to get all the paperwork and we don’t have the money to do it. I also tried teaching online but I am unable to do that because there is not sufficient internet here, and even at the internet cafes it’s not consistent nor are they open at the times I need. We bought items from larger cities and tried to sell them here and that failed; and I even had some ideas for a small business here but we have been unable to source the items we need to make that happen. In addition to all that, I had my design business that has been going for 10 years – I had thought through all sorts of renditions of that business that I could pursue here, but all have failed due to internet connectivity. So, at the end of the day, we simply have to admit that right now, we are not able to survive here.
Actually, my husband knew it within a month of us arriving. It took me longer to accept that reality. I mentally got there a month ago, but still didn’t want to admit to the fact that we had to leave. But,… that is our truth we have to stare in the eye.
Over the course of the last month, we have gone around in circles trying to figure out how that will happen – whether we stay together as a family or not, whether we continue the pursuit of the Greencard or let it go, if we stay or go back, and how we will survive another tearing apart of our family unit. It has been an emotional roller coaster, but at the end of it all we are… each of us (including Loki) … in exactly the same spot – we know we have to go back.
That breaks our hearts. Each of us.
I came here knowing things would be hard. I thought I understood. I had been to poor countries, I had seen the conditions in Mexico, I had married someone who had to send money home each month so they could survive. But, the reality is that I had no idea what it was like here or what drives people to the USA! I don’t think you can ever truly understand until you’ve lived it. I now find myself in the same position as so many from different countries – needing to leave the place I call home so that I can work, so that my family can survive. There is such hearbreak in it.
But… that has to be put on the back burner (along with all the other emotions) and we have to step forward and do what needs to be done. My husband wants better than this for us and our family as a whole must move into a place of financial wellbeing.
With him here and working, Alejandro can make money and even save, without needing to feed three people and three dogs.
With us in the US working, we can pay the bills, take care of our needs there and have the support of a network of friends and family.
There are always plane tickets & vacations.
We know there are no easy long distance relationships, and all we can do is try. We can be honest with each other, have faith in one another, and move forward one step at a time. We are more fully aware than anyone just how volatile it all is, and know that our future could be another year, or 3 or 10 and the immigration issues could change on a dime, but none of us are ready to simply throw our hands in the air and give up! So, we do what thousands of families have done and believe that time flies, love is strong, and what is best for the family is truly best for each of its individuals.
(sidenote from what I noted earlier in this post) I am sure most people think us crazy for even considering giving up the process of Consular Processing (the Greencard), but you can’t judge that until you’ve lived through it. It’s not like we are simply living our lives and it’s happening in the background. It is our lives – everything is pending on that little piece of paper. Whether we stay here or go back to the States, whether our family remains a unit, whether we are able to survive financially… its all pending on the current state of affairs politically (which is volatile at best right now) and whether or not our lawyers are able to get not just the base paperwork processed but the waivers which allow us to come back and live in the US as a whole family, together. You live with that over your head and it controls everything in your life. Do you simply wait it out? Do you make a life elsewhere – get a career, buy property, etc… or do you let it go and allow yourself the freedom to simply live you life. On top of all that, you have to stop and ask yourself if you even want to be going back to a country where you are not welcome by many, where the atmosphere is difficult against the color of your skin and your past. That’s not to say everyone feels that way, and in fact, because of the current politics there is a great deal of sympathy but it doesn’t change the reality you would go back to. So, we’ve been through a great deal of emotions regarding continuing to pursue a process that could change, extend, get cancelled out at any time (despite the fact that it’s a congressional process). The timelines are shifting drastically and what was thought to be a year and a half could be 2 or 4 or 10 years, so with all that in the mix, you stop and ask yourself what you truly want out of your life!
Today, I feel like I am giving up and that it’s not fair of me to do so. I also know with full conviction I have to leave.
Yesterday, I felt sad, relieved, angry, excited, disappointed, …then sad all over again. Loki is going through the same roller coaster.
And, speaking of Loki. I am so proud of my son!!! He has grown up so much. As we sat down as a family to talk (serious discussions are really hard for him) and he was able to speak up as part of the family and express his opinions and needs. He told us he couldn’t stay here for 4 years or 10 years, and he didn’t know if he would be able to make it through the year – that he missed his friends and wanted to not struggle financially all the time. He expressed that he wants to be part of our family, working just like us, so he can rake lawns or continue to sell at craft fairs, or whatever it may be. He even came up with lots of ways to help us save money back in the USA and has decided he wants to cut coupons (thank you, Tia Adriana!), use the cultural passes at the library instead of paying to go places, and go to the library instead of the bookstore (all things he has learned from living here and experiencing what it means to be without – not just him, but seeing a whole culture who lives without … he’s actually pretty well taken care of here and has more than everyone here, but it’s not the same as the USA). He wants to continue learning Spanish because it’s important to him to know a second language and be able to send money back here to help the family. He says he wants to keep reading and doing things that don’t necessarily cost money, but just make you happy inside. I couldn’t have effectively taught a 12-year old boy those things in all his childhood the way he’s learned them here. They are now a part of him.
Even if I knew the decision we would have to make today…. to have gone through everything we went through only to turn around 6 months later and return…. I wouldn’t change any of it.
…We actually pulled out all the photos of the things we got rid of (which are still on my computer) and Loki and I each only found 1 thing each that we would have kept! (that’s kind of embarrassing!)
…I don’t have a home to come back to, it’s rented, but that’s ok, because right now, we don’t have the means to pay for the mortgage so it gives us some time to work up to that! We talked about travelling Europe while we are footloose and fancy free without rent or mortgage or a job that holds us down in one place, so maybe we’ll do that… I don’t know?!
…The emotional upheaval we went through to get here, and all the things I have had to sort through in myself have helped me grow as a person in ways I couldn’t let go of and wish away.
… and the experience of living here, truly seeing and being a part of another culture – of a 3rd world country – has altered my world view and changed the way I look at everything! My sense (and my son’s) of entitlement is gone, of need vs want has shifted, and a sense of where joy comes from has deepened considerably!
I don’t regret coming here. I wouldn’t change my choice to do so. I don’t regret any of the things I let go of in my life or changes I had to make to get us here. I will, for the rest of my life, look at this part of my life with a 100% conviction that it was the right thing for us…. and a gift in our lives!
We leave here roughly at the end of October, which is our 6-month mark and when we have to cross over the border anyway to renew/cancel our car permit so we’re making it our timeline. Not sure yet what day we’ll cross or when we’ll get back.
We have to figure out when exactly we are leaving, where we will go and for how long – whether we will try to move somewhere or just stay with someone for a while. All of our things are in storage and we have no furniture, so if we do move in somewhere, we have to factor that in. We have to figure out what to do with our doggies – we will be taking our 2 big dogs back with us (Solo will stay to be Papa’s buddy) and we don’t want to lose them, they are our family! But, we also don’t have any place right now to take them so it’s hard to know what to do – we will try to find a temporary home for them. We have to work out the logistics of me working – homeschool, Loki care, hours worked, what kind of job and where we’ll even be to see if its feasible to get a job. It will be the holiday season, so there’s temporary work but we have to figure all that out. I might focus on online work, or something I can do in my home like childcare or tutoring, or it might be better to get a day/night job. Like I said, all that will work itself out. We have an immediate place to go – either my mom’s in Tacoma, or my sister in southern Washington. We’ll start there and see where life takes us from there.
All we know today is that we are going back.
And, that we are sad, excited, and trying really hard not to think about it too much because then we all break into tears and the heartbreak is too much … and we have no other choice.
SO… we are determined to make our last few weeks wonderful and full of happy!
We will see you soon!