In 1974, my mother crossed the border. She was 11 years old and accompanied by two of her older brothers. She was born and raised in El Jardin, San Luis Potosì along with her twelve siblings. As one of the youngest in her family, her role on my grandfather’s rancho was to oversee los borregos. “Bbbbbaaaaahhhhh,” dicen los borregos.
At the time, her eldest brother and my grandmother living in California awaited their arrival. Mateo and Griselda had 5 children and generously let other paisanos live in their 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home. When my mother arrived to Los Angeles, a total of 15 people were sharing his home. The plight of the immigrant is never easy, yet the novelty of new experiences overrides the hardship.
For my mother, the distance that separated her from her mom attracted her to go to California. She was still a child and she missed her mom. The day she left El Jardin she packed some clothes in a plastic bag, while Rogelio, one of her brothers traveling with her, loaded her backpack with bullets and tortas de jamon for the road. She recalls hopping on a bus and saying adios to los borregitos. To settle her fears, her siblings lied to her and told her, “Te vamos a engordar una puerca. Asì cuando regreses para tù Quinceñera, iremos a tener una fiesta muy grande.” She was delighted to hear them say that and left Mexico without any worries. Once she arrived to Tijuana, Mexico with her brothers, she recalls being left at an old, rasquacho motel for one night, while her brothers made arrangements with the coyote to cross the border.
In the morning, a group of people were dropped off near the border by the coyote. The coyote dropped them off in the middle of the desert, “Orale, aqui le van a correr derecho hasta que lleguen a una barda donde se van a ir por debajo. Allì alguien los va recoger por el otro lado.” Everyone nervously got down from the truck and started sprinting like Olympians. Rogelio was too fat to throw my mom on his back, so my mom jumped on Geronimo’s back and piggy backed across the milpas as fast their guaraches could take them. My mother picked up her feet and was whirled away across the border dodging patches of cactus and remolinos. There was one lady who didn’t make it. She ran in tacones and was left behind. Know one knows what happened to her.
My mother and her brothers made it across safely. When they arrived to Los Angeles everyone eagerly greeted them and welcomed them to my uncle’s home. She was enrolled in school and immediately began a new life to obtain a “green card.” She learned how to read and write in 7th grade. She loved to drink chocolate milk and eat coffee cakes at school. She liked to iron and wash dishes at my uncle’s house. She liked learning. She had a lot of love for her brother and his family who treated her like a daughter. In high school she met my dad. After a five year courtship, they got married and gave birth to me and named me Denise. Two years after, they birthed another baby girl and she became my best friend. Seven years after my birth, my parents gave birth to my youngest sister. She became my best friend, too.