The American Dream is a Sinister Nightmare

Adriana Nevarez, a high school student from Latino College Prep Acadamy, writes a narative from the perspective of her father who immigrated from Mexico to the United States with Adriana's pregnant mother. Adriana is an aspiring writer who finds inspiration in the stories of her family and community. These writings are part of a running workshop series. Feel free to comment, and workshop facilitators will share with authors.

The American Dream is a Sinister Nightmare

 By Adriana Nevarez

Is migrating always an option? Many people migrate from one place to another facing hardships and overcoming obstacles in seek for a better life. I am very proud of my origin and I am thankful to have a family that never gives up and sacrifices themselves to make others happy. My father’s migration affects me in a positive way allowing me to understand why he came here and also, allowing me to try to make him and my mother proud by continuing my education positively. My father is a very special person who faced a lot of harsh times in order for me to be here now and have a better future and this is why I would love to share his reality to the others around me from his point of view.

My name is Francisco-Luis Nevarez, and I was born in Durango, Mexico on February 8, 1969. I was raised in a little ranch named San Nicholas ever since I was born. I remember that even though poverty was always an obstacle in our lives, we were friendly and happy. There are many things I remember about my hometown, I remember the dirt road and how wet the dirt smelled like when it rained. I also remember how the ranch was full of farm animals and how they were very important for agriculture and also, to bring food to our table. I had to leave school at a young age in order to help my father work so we could have food to eat. I only studied until sixth grade. After I dropped out of school, I spent my days growing crops such as corn and beans in a hot, beating sun. My father and I worked from sunrise to sunset and sometimes we had nothing to eat throughout the day. Our stomachs would ache and screech for food, our lips would ask to be revived with water, our legs would burn and beg for a rest, and the cuts on our hands would supplicate for cure. But there was no way me and my father could please them.

I left my hometown in the year 1995 at the age of 26. I left my home and my family because of poverty. Another reason was because I wanted my children to have a better future and not have to go through what I went through. My wife and I were married in San Nicholas and by the time we migrated to the United States, she was expecting my first son.

My night. Our night. That night is a night I will never forget. My wife and I packed our clothes and a ‘Coyote’, a person who migrates people to the United States illegally and usually by land, took us in a bus to a place called Nogales. It was one of many places where immigrants crossed the border or lost their lives. The smell of human waste stung my nostrils as I held my wife’s hand. My body was washed up in sweat as well as my tears. I remember getting off the filthy bus and looking up. Fear was the first thing to haunt me and knock me down as a 30 feet old sheet, metal wall stared intensely at me. Images of my family with an empty table, slowly killing them, gave me the strength and courage to get to the top of the fence. Tears swelled my eyes as I faced down toward my wife, the “coyote” had left us to our fate. There was no way I was going to leave my wife and my baby while in danger. I left all the struggles made, and climbed back down. I kissed my wife and her popped out belly, I took her by the hand, and hand in hand we got to the top. I looked back at my hometown as a tear ran down my cheek. I was frightened, as never before, of my wife falling and losing both, and of what yet had to come. I carefully took her hand and placed it on a metal pole beside me. She grabbed the pole with both hands and slid all the way down. She got down safe as I prayed to the heavens up high to help us. I waited until it was my turn, just like I waited to be called to make a presentation in school. I placed both of my hands tightly around the sweaty metal pole, I shook my finger around to get a good grip as I remembered climbing trees during my childhood. As I slid down, my hands burned fiercely, as if they had caught on fire. My palms were full of popped burning, bloody, blisters.

My wife was waiting for me impatiently as I got down. As soon as my feet touched the ground of Arizona with relief, I took my wife’s hand and ran as fast as we could. My bloody and bruised hands did not matter at the time, it was seen as insignificant. A stranger was waiting for us in a car, apparently someone had sent him for us. As we hopped in the car, he drove off in complete silence. The only words I heard him speak were “I was told to drop you guys off at the Arizona airline.” I never bothered to look into his eyes, so instead, I turned to my side window and concentrated on my reflection. The tears had left a long shadow along my cheek which reminded me of the dry rivers of my hometown during the summer. As we arrived to Arizona’s airline, we got off and bought two tickets and headed to Los Angeles. Everything was different. The language, the streets, the people, nature itself was different. Even though we had survived our living nightmare, fright haunted me once again. Deportation was such a painful word that stabbed my brain every half a second.

I came to San Jose because my brother was here and I had nowhere else to go and I knew I had more job opportunities since my brother owns a landscaping company. We took a Greyhound bus to San Jose. When we arrived to San Jose, I cried of joy because I felt that we were safe as my brothers hands were wrapped around me. The best feeling was knowing that it was time to start a new life with my baby and my wife, but I also felt pain as I missed the people I loved and the place where I belonged.

When I came here to the United States, Mexico was about to devalue their money. This means that the money’s value is decreasing and it is worth less, which lead to a bad economy causing an increase in poverty. Most people grew their own crops and built their own houses of mud because everything was the same price and the money was worth less.

I haven’t seen the immigrant population change much economically, most people still suffer from poverty. Although many people from my hometown are migrating to the United States in order to help their family, poverty still has an impact in their life, because the people that migrate to the United States in order to help their family and themselves. Poverty is something I would not like to not face again in this life and this is what has kept me here. I left my family and my home in order for my children to have a better life and future, different from my own, and I just hope that they are thankful and learn how to value what they have in their hands.

Socially, back in the days in Mexico, boys were raised with the thought that in order to be a man, we had to take women’s rights away and their opinion didn’t matter. Most men demonstrated that they were men by physically abusing a woman without caring if others watched. Most men had these thoughts and dared to put them in action because in my ranch, there wasn’t any police force. I decided to cut the chain and stop the violence towards women even though I grew up seeing them mistreated.

Migrating is not always an option. It’s something necessary for some people, for many different reasons. My reasons were my family, my children, and their future. Life is never easy and steps should always be taken forward in life. I don’t regret sacrificing myself for the people I love, because even though my life didn’t change for better, I am sure that my children have an education, and can make something out of them. Fright will always haunt you no matter where you go, but never let it take you over. Don’t let that be an option.

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Great job Adriana! Thank you for telling your dad's story, which, of course, is your story too. Keep writing to heal our families, our communities around the world and, very important, to heal ourselves.

'Ofa atu (Love to you in Tongan), Loa

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