Friday, August 26, 2011

The color of blue

Finally we found each other and then...

We are due to go back to the USA and leave my husband in Mexico this week.
Coming to the end of our relationship this time around. Not quite developed any inspirational energy to start packing yet... been here way too many times and it never gets any easier. Goodbye to my home and my husband's arms and legs wrapped around me keeping me safe from the world of unhappy loss of direction that I self create. Goodbye to my living within the same air that we breathe together while we sleep. Dinner time is now on me. Time to change the diet from Mexican to American, endure the culture shock of forgetting how to cook for a couple weeks, forgetting where I am, with our kids reminding me that we have to eat everyday, not just when I happen to remember that life goes on.
My chest feels heavy, my stomach is nauseated, my eyes are burning. Physically letting go is hard on me. Emotionally, it puts me on the very edge...
We talked about how I could stay, figured it all out - the hows and whens and whatnots...
My daughter tells me she needs me. She needs me.
Ricardo could see this after the two days of relief plan made. It was in my face. The concern of a mother who fears for the life of her daughter...
He said to me, while we lay on the couch, with tears in his eyes and an understanding smile,
for me to go on the scheduled flight and not fight it anymore, let it go...
He is giving up his fatherhood, daily smiles with his babies, sacrificing for me to be with my daughter that is from a previous marriage...
how many men would do that with such grace? Valiance! My hero...
And now we gather our things, should we leave those hair-ties or take them... what about those flip flops and the cook book, should it travel? I do not know when I will be back.
I wish... for way too many things.
The process of letting go of your life... I guess that I should consider this practice for in the end...
Being as that I cannot take anything there either, including people. That is one step in the other direction for comparison sakes that should raise my spirits to the situation, at least we are not dying... we will see each other again. Deep emotion, depression, despair...
Handling it with style and grace is what we do, what choice has been given to us.
My country has forsaken my family to protect us - to care about our sad moments.
My husband is nothing but a criminal marked illegal, overlooking his gift of his sacrifice that he faces in loving me and the kids, the Capulets and the Montagues. Where do we all belong...
So the problem of me being married previous with children issue has come to a conclusion within the subject of our discussions, he is willing to sacrifice as only a loving father would do, for all of their benefit, even the children that are not his, because they are part of me. Truly one family, we are truly related him and I... marriage is an understatement.

How to capture that warmth of his hand holding mine so that I can make it through... I will never perfect the formula.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cui- Cui- Cuida te!

     There is a reason why there are ten foot concrete walls with broken glass embedded into the top around the perimeter of each home in Mexico. Those steel bars across everyone's windows are not decorative. Believe it when you find out that the front, back, and side doors are all made of steel - never with an actual door knob - but always with at least two slide bar locks. There is actual purpose for keeping a dog in the yard, because quite frankly we are not in a big animal rights spirit here in Mexico.
     Above the appearance of the last shake down we also house the Madd Max on the road, the duck taped bumper, the grandma in the chair in the back of the pick up, the bus route that smashes dogs on purpose by swerving to kill, or running over little childrens feet that did not quite make it out of the slowed down bus while jumping on or off. Yes this is Mexico, where anything goes.
      My nephews owned a dog named Snoopy, the watch dog Rotweiler mix that upon hearing the news of his death and the bus route-20 involvement, my first comment was that it had to be suicide on his part. This is definitely not the country to be born in if you come back in your next life as a dog. Have you ever checked out the Azteca breed? "Used" to be food... perhaps still is. There is a need, one more to add on to the list of the world's peace, for dogs rights south of the border... starting with Snoopy. My poor nephews, as tough as they are for their ages of young teens, cried for him. Their last dog hung herself. She jumped with her collar and rope over the wall. She did not know that on the other side was a 200 foot drop to the river. They finally figured out where she disappeared to and no one cracked an expression.  Her collar was unfastened and her dead body dropped to the already polluted river without a proper funeral. That was within the first year in Mexico and it was added to my list of shocks of the reaction to their dog's death, so I concluded suicide. And now one more... Snoopy.
      Snoopy was allowed outside the gate when he felt like taking his bulky black body for a stroll up the sidewalk to the neighborhood that rested on the steep streets of the neighboring mountain on the other side of the river's bridge. He knew enough to stay off of the road, as it was a semi busy road... but even semi busy in Mexico means stay the hell away from the edge or you will get hit with a rear-view mirror and no one will stop to see how your elbow feels after. The dog carried a look on his face that if human, he would certainly be a distinguished older man with little patience for absurdities of youth and possessing the ablity to gain respect with little said, and certainly no smile - maybe that of a car mechanic, always half concentrated, as if he is forever thinking of cars, but with short to the point answers... unless your dealing with the wrong mechanic.
       The gate around the house of my nephews is new. It reaches up twenty feet in height and holds the monstorous heavy steel black double doors that are approximately 10 x 20 feet that open to let the car in, and close with a huge sliding bar and lock. The whole set up was installed last year about this time as a surprise to his wife, my sister in law. Someone broke into their house for the last time, prying the window's steel bars apart and using some type of power tool to rip a hole into their steel back door. They trashed the place and took all of her jewelry. She was pretty upset and afraid they would come back. Most husbands in Mexico work well over 60 hours a week and her and the boys felt violated and wondered if they would remain safe. Their neighbor was then held at gun point in his own home. They decided to get the twenty foot concrete wall installed with the big steel doors. It looked like a fort from some futuristic movie.
      The street is different. There is no pity or remorse. You do not let your children play near or on the street hoping that the cars will slow down and mind their pedestrians come first rules. No. If your kid gets run over it is considered the fault of the parent, specifically the mother. Women take on the blame of most of the issues, for it is their duty to maintain the peace and harmony of the homes and that includes keeping everyone alive. I guess that is why the dead stares are so common. Lots of pressures to survive. And when there are drivers, mostly all male, for women driving is not common, that I am not quite sure if they were ever taught or they just got lucky enough to get a car started that comes flying around the corner at least 40 miles per hour faster than he should... that is when you know that it is never ever safe to walk unless you are completely alert. That is where Ricardo comes in to play for me, for I am a day dreaming of whatever kind of soul. When I walk I have to look at wonder at everything. I do not pay much attention to the rules of "how to walk down a road in Mexico"... but he certainly reminds me. There is never bending at the waist, eyes always need to be in check as to what you are looking at and for how long, moving over, avoiding certain people, awareness of the impression... and staying away from the edge of the road. He knows it because he is the same way when he drives. He feels he needs to teach others by passing them, stopping in front of them at a diagnol and swearing at them in his stopped car out the window while they are stuck. He is the official street monitor. I have to remind him that someone may pull out a pistol one day, and he confirms his machette is just as handy that sits between the two front seats of the mini-van. I just think it is funny when the people have this response to him when he is yelling at them as if he were to be their very own father, they actually seem to follow him. What is that about?
       So Snoopy headed out for a stroll last week and was killed. It was not suicide as I joked, and it was certainly not an accident. Even though it is common to pass anyone that gets in your way , run the red light when you are bored of waiting in the heavy traffic by zooming around the stopped cars in the opposite lane, pass a cop with his sirens on in a no passing zone while you are holding the baby in the passenger seat, going down a one way purposely out of frustration to find a better route, or basically letting grandma and the whole family climb in the back of the pickup and tell them to hold on while you do all of the above, despite the seatbelt law in effect... the twenty peso tip off if they decide to pull you over comes in mind when one decides to run over your dog... Snoopy was in the city visiting my comadre Dona Mago, off of the road on the sidewalk walking along minding his own business when the route 20 busline swerved into him on purpose, smashing his head and body and kept on going. My nephew saw Snoopy smashed. They brought him home when he was as small as a shoe. Now he was gone.
     There are big reasons why there are walls around every home here. There are big reasons why paying close attention to your surroundings every second when you are out walking in Mexico... Just as there are big reasons why my husband should obtain an immediate visa so that our family of six with five Americans can live in the United States with all of the protection benefits such as those we are accustomed to - the same protection that is being enjoyed by all of the other American families.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Simi doctor trip
    Eliott had a bunch of sticks in his pockets, in his hands - pretend pistols - as boys that are three and a half years old do. He followed too close to his father and got smacked with the swinging screen door the other day, the door hitting his hand, gripping onto one of those sticks, right into his little eye. He cried, and what we thought was an end of the day dramatic moment of tantrum that we tried to hush with half sympathetic "oh Eliott your tough, come one," ended up being quite an injury. After inspection the following day and discovering a huge red spot on the eyeball, we realized that a call to the local doctor would be the best idea, even if he did seem completely fine.
    We use the local doctor that practices in the office set up within the Simi pharmacy next door to the actual pharmacy that throughout Mexico has awarded plenty of doctors with patients with as many illnesses as it takes to fill the ten or so seats in the waiting area every evening. Of course our family is no different, always coming down with something with all of our children, not to mention my fragile American stomach that rebels against the Mexican lifestyle at least four or five times a year. We go for colds, coughs, skin rashes, fevers, infections, stomach animals, you name it. We have all had giardia, the water born parasite, and have been "dewormed" with medicine for the entirety of the family at the same time.
      Once Eliott had the "gripa" I took him over to the doc, had a script filled for amoxicillian and set it on the counter when we got home. Lets see, I think that I was still pregnant with Catherine, so yes, it was before he turned two... Yes he got ahold of the bottle and drank down the entire thing. Upon discovery I was afraid, but almost in a shock of what to do about it. In America I would call poison control or the pediatrician. Of course I run into a problem with not being fluent in Mexico with my Spanish tongue, so off we race to the Simi doc. The bottle of medicine was if I remember like 80 times his own doseage, so yes, it came back out all over the waiting room, along with what foods he had. The pharmacist was not too happy but in the end, his gripa was completely wiped out at that moment. So not that I recommend overdosing your kid, but wow, such results are unheard of.
    So we make a family fun time of our trips to the doc. We whip out the unbrella stroller for the baby, and lock the door behind us as we walk down the end of our condo complex, letting Eliott balance along the yellow painted curb to the drainage ditch below, and turn towards the pharmacy when we hit the road. It is only down about three or four stores. The seats to wait in are sometimes empty which is an empowering feeling. Occasionally there are so many people it is difficult to see where we fit in line to be seen. No matter how long the wait though we are entertained by the people walking by, or just by our own family entertaining the other people.
      The Simi pharmacy gives out lolly pops, or in Spanish they are called paletas, to each of the "kid patients" and my kids are well aware of this, expecting to have one in hand on the moment of landing. When Eliott hurt his eye, we went to the doc. Eliott said, "Papa I want un paleta." Ricardo said "You go Eliott. Dice (tell) the lady 'un paleta por favor'... no dos paletas por favor'" remembering Catherine was with us. Eliott went around the corner, we heard a slight echo of his voice, and he returned with the lolly pops smiling. He bounced around with his sister sharing licks of each others lolly pop flavors and then he dropped his on the floor. Ricardo made him throw it away immediately because lord knows what germs are lingering there. He told Eliott to go ask for another one and he came back and had a shy look on his face. I dont know whether he had not asked or if she said no to him, but he pulled my arm for me to stand up. I said "no Eliott you go ask her...." He said " no mom you do it" "But Eliott I do not know Spanish, you know that." Eliott looked at me with his little hand up to his mouth as if he were telling me a secret and said, " you just tell her un paleta por favor." I just love his funny three year old moments.
To have my husband, his father sitting with me, both of us laughing at our son's silly sweet and sincere moment was absolutely priceless.
Only the friends that I have made that share the same separations of their spouses due to lack of concern of immigration reform reprocussions and consequences to American citizens would understand my emotion in that.
    We finished up with the doc, giving Eliott some eyedrops and giving him the ok that he was fine. Outside, across the street there was a man, obviously homeless. He bent down and with his outstretched hand, scooped up a palm full of water from a puddle that remains in an uneven area along the sidewalk on the other side of the street. This puddle is the puddle that everyone tries to avoid having to park in because it is wider than the parked car, causing the uncomfortable slide through to the passenger side to have to get out. The puddle is always there, even in the middle of the 90 degree heat day. It has sludge in it, green stuff, paper and plastic floating, not to mention the multitudes of stray dogs in the area that walk through it. The bus route and the cars fly through it and release their toxic uninspection law pollution into it. There he was, scooping up the water with his outstretched arm and bringing it up to his lips, without worry or embarrassment to the crowded street.
Was this lack of respect on his part for his own body which surely experienced a great deal of cramping and disease... or was this enough respect for his own life to preserve it by saving himself from dehydration by drinking filth?
One thing for sure, in my country that would never happen, because they care about people who are down on their luck in ability to make it by providing assistance to their citizens. No one would ever go without in America, not like what I was witnessing with this man having to drink from the most horrible water ever in existance.... my America would never let that happen to one of its own citizens...
Or would they?
This was a reflection on my family being disregarded by my own country into health risking neglect and outright basic infringement on our rights to be protected by our citizenship.
I am glad Eliott's eye is ok.

Monday, August 22, 2011

School days across the border...

     Public school in Mexico has been an experience that both of my American children, and myself included, will appreciate in a comparative aspect to our beloved USA. Our first moments in Mexico were that of shock to the culture and separation issues to just about everything that we were familiar with including foods, sounds in the street outside, customs, attitudes, home comforts, driving, cooking, daily events, and the biggest and most noticeable one being language. The kids and I did not know Spanish at all. We arrived in Mexico as a newborn would, not knowing how to communicate, however having to assume the same responsibilities as we did while we lived in the USA. My husband was gone most of the first year working in a job that he, thank goodness, no longer has... so we were basically thrown into the pack of wolves on our own. The school system in Mexico was a large fraction of our adjustment to life in a strange world.
     We searched for a private school. Our decision was to made rather sudden as the beginning of the school year starts without warning to someone who does not understand the language, in the middle of August as opposed to the comparative USA. I took it for granted that we would just basically receive some type of paper in the mail stating the children's bus number and classroom with assigned teacher a few weeks before school was to start... that was not the case of course. School busses are unheard of in Mexico. Paid for public bus or taxi can remedy the child who lives too far from the school to walk. This factor is also a huge downfall to those children who are from the poverish and underprivilaged for that travel money is on a scale of importance in the balance with something more important - food. When someone from the USA ponders upon the lack of education in the country of Mexico, one point that they do not possibly factor is the basic transportation costs that somehow swallow many children's futures in a hungry gulp of statistics that were never meant to be counted due to lack of concern.
      The whole thing was never meant to be thought out. We were on a whim of sorts driving into Mexico to be with our beloved. We did not have a suggestion manual, not one friend to ask, as we knew absolutly no one who was as crazy as we were to go into the life of Mexico with wide eyes and concentrated concern on our face as we tried our best to read the faces and body language on a daily basis of what we were expected of, as we blasted our American English music from the safety of our own home. Many store owners that we purchased our necessary food to survive from spoke enough English to at least entertain the situation, or at least themselves, in times of exchange at the counter..."seven-teen" in a heavily accented total of how many pesos we would owe. Eventually we caught on to the actual names of the cheese that was under the glass and the proper process to purchase what we needed. Cheese, for example, otherwise in Spanish translation called queso, was easy to order from the store owner as in "vente pesos de queso de Oaxaca, por favor..." In other words, tell them how much you are willing to pay and you will get a weighed out handful in a bag to take back to the house. Once we discovered how to shop for food, we then had to figure out what to do with it. We ate a lot of home-made spaghetti that first year to say the least, as that was one of the only things that I could figure out that was edible... that and tortillas with cheese in the middle folded in half and melted in a pan, topped with a little crema. We stayed nourished and alive... and grew stronger in our new world.
      The birth of the days in Mexico's school system were filled with those first days in private school. Our choice would be with a woman who ran a school called Moderno Americano that was a block away from my sister in law's candy store on the main street of Acatlipa. I figured if anything came up, the kids could at least depend on the fact that the store was in close proximity of the school, even if I was far away. My days were scheduled with driving the kids to school, taking them in, going home, washing the clothes by hand in our washboard sink, napping, snacking on whatever I could find, changing my clothes into street clothes, venturing back to the school... all while my belly was growing with my son's pregnancy. The private school was run by a woman that knew perfect English who grew up in Tijuana with only a certificate on her wall that she had completion of an associates degree in Early Childhood education, nothing more. Her daughter came to visit and we really got along. The only problem was that I was fragile. I was a shakey little animal in the middle of a very loud environment, scared and alone... trying my best at the accomplishment of staying afloat, pregnant with my sixth sense in full awareness that my surroundings were not familiar. This woman took advantage of that fact, knew I was from American with a connection to my father who was sending small amounts of money, and tried her best to charge me more than the other students. My sister in law got involved and took her out. I mean that she destroyed her school by weapon of gossip within a month of my childrens' withdraw in November, her school folded and she left town by Christmas. Something to be said for the talk on the street here, with special emphasis on the power of my sister in law and into the family she was married to. The power of who you are, and the lack of patience for excuses with the constant awareness that every peso matters, especially if you plan to be a con artist in a small town and survive.
     The kids were left without a school so we travelled to the USA for a month to give birth to the baby. We came back to enter them into the public school that was up the road from our house, on top of the mountain, only after we visited a few others. This one however was within walking distance, and the start of a lifestyle in the daily hike up the hill, making friends with the neighborhood, being recongnized as the American family as we walked with our umbrella stroller with our new born that everyone was anxious to hold. I was anxious to please, and knew that the custom was to be as friendly (about  babies) as possible with the women in front of the school every morning, but every time someone wanted to hold my new baby I was ready... ready for the chase if they would happen to run off with him. What a lifestyle.
      The director was a older man who spoke English, quite comforting to me. He asked me while registering, if I was going to sew the uniforms myself or buy them. I laughed at first thinking he was trying to joke with me, but he was not, his face was not joking... a new concept for me and acknowledgement of one of the learned natures of the displacement of the feminism that I grew accustomed to being non-existant in this country. We finished up the paperwork without any of the proper documents that were needed, filling in the blanks with the excuse that low and behold - we were American, perhaps figuring it could have potentials to their school without our understanding, to have our mere presence in this tiny little block building with one classroom each grade. The director quit a couple months after and was replaced by a woman.
     Our elementary school has endured the complete turn over of every grade's teacher a few times and perhaps 4 or 5 different directors all within the past five years. Each classroom filled to the maximum amount of students, around 40-45, with no air conditioning. The teacher would stand impatiently in the front of the class, sweat beading on her forehead, and some of them would use a stick to bang on the desk to obtain the attention of the constant chattering of children. Their books were hauled around in their backpacks. If your child was unaware and left his fancy pencil or new erasers on his desk, they would be gone when he turned his head. Papers were tossed on the floor as were pop and water bottles and wrappers from whatever the kids ate in their lunches. The use of the garbage can was not an enforced rule obviously.
       My daughter took the neighbor's kitten in her backpack to school one day, making the children laugh and play... She stuffed it in there in the morning and let it meow throughout the day in class, unnoticed by the maestra, which tells you something if not only describing the constant noise volume during class, but the teacher's disregard for details. The kitten escaped the backpack midday and hid under the bookself. All of the students in the desks surrounding my daughter were having fun with the kitten, but to Leah's downfall, when the neighbor began to search for her lost kitten, many of the children pointed the finger to Leah as the culprit, labelled kitten thief. She tried to lie and say that she found it, as she gave it away to one of her friends from school. In the end she had to retrieve the kitten from its new home and give it back to the rightful owner. The theme of "Mary had a Little Lamb" rings true.
     The past July we paid visit to the school and watched the production of entertainment for the parents as the students of each grade learned and performed a dance complete with costume. The kids only attended the beginning of the last year's grade here, completing the rest of this past school year in America. These were now our familiar faces, the people that we have memories of our daily life of greetings and acknowledgement, watching each other grow and change throughout the years... despite the language differences... they were our people. We cheered from the audience as our "babies" were now graduating from the class that my son should have been attending, watching most of them in their actual graduation as to never attend school any further than elementary, wondering if we would stay in contact, but knowing otherwise.
           I have made three very close friends, mothers of other students, friends enough in that we have visited each other's homes, and accompanied each other to different events. One friend has two daughters that are in the same grades as my two. She was Christian, attended church on days other than Sunday and became my rock in times of fear. We had a hard time in communication, but we understood each other beyond the words, as women. Her place with the Lord that she was so close with served a bigger position in being my friend. We attended a parade in the neighboring town of Zapata that was some type of student day that all of the schools' students were to march. I stayed with my friend and another woman, holding my son, pregnant with another, in the heat, cheering as our children passed by. We went to her mother's house where my friend grew up, after the parade for some food and gossip along with all of the invited teachers and directora of the school. Her place was not only tight with the Lord but also that of a respected amiga of the school's faculty.
    There is a common ground of the saying it is not what you know it is who you know that seems to thrive in Mexico. We have never had the correct documentation to attend their school, nor have we followed the basic rules of attendance. One year my kids missed a full six weeks, only to return to continue as if the interruption never happened. Another year they missed four months of the school year, and again, still retained their B average despite it all. The fact that they were bilingual surpassed most of the teachers capabilities causing their opinion of my children to be that of truly gifted children, despite their lack of memorized multiplication tables. They all did us a favor by passing my children every year, or did they.
    At the end of each year the children are given an exam to check if they learned what was expected of them. My kids usually did well enough to get an eight or nine in most of the sections' scores. The grading is number system, ten being the highest. Ending the first year however, Leah was on her third day of finishing her exam. The rest of the class finished either the first day, or some of them the second... but her lack of Spanish skills caught her during the testing. Examples of skipping the correct procedure are throughout our experience as proven and this one was no exception to that. Because of the fact that the teachers were growing impatient with Leah's delay in completion of the yearly exam, they had her big brother, a grade higher, come into the mix and finish it up for her within a couple hours. This was sign, sealed, and delivered education at its best.
     Remarkably upon readmitance into the public education system in America, with the only accomplishment being kinder and first grades, the children performed their best and shocked me for sure. I asked for them to be place in the grades previous, however the school would not allow it, using the excuse that it would hinder their self confidence, yea, sure it would... Leah continually received perfect scores on her spelling tests and surpassed the book reading quota week after week. She amazed me. Julian had always been the smart one in the life in Mexico and suddenly he was receiving E grades in things like math that previously he surpassed the other students in his knowledge. His teacher complained of his confused stares when she spoke as we dealt with not only severe culture shock, but language issues for the kids. The entire switch not only boggled them, but I as well. They were not given any special treatment or assistance as you would presume in the USA school system, however I was labelled as a bad mother with constant notes from teachers saying that it was my responsibilty to find a solution to the children's faults. I wrote back with notes such as you are getting paid to teach so teach. I found it to be inexcusable to place blame on me and escape what they were hired to do. My feelings on the whole matter boiled down to what they felt as their privilage of the fact that they should be paid for their extra effort, and were not according to the news of cutbacks, or to the fact that they banded together in the faculty lounge to form an alliance to my labelling their school as being uncooperative in the no student left behind motto, turning the finger to be the fault of the parent for not teaching them at home, protecting their own butts. Remembering back to my own childhood, I found that to be absurd and lazy and voiced that to them. The fact that I am putting myself through school myself to obtain a degree to teach enhances that opinion. Never would I project some of the attitudes that I have witnessed from their holier than thou stance at their employment. If there is a child in need, as in missing every single answer on a science quiz, instead of writing in red ink that there should be help at home that it is ridiculous that she missed the whole point of starches including a classroom demonstration with pasta and rice... I would, as a teacher, not write in red ink pointing out how lazy a teacher could get away with being in their own self proclaimed privilage of being an educated individual, but I would take my teaching job seriously and say to the child, do you understand... because is seems as though you do not... how about during recess we will go over this subject so that I am sure that you do understand what I am teaching to you. Hello. That is teaching.
     With our Mexico public school we have experienced the power of another culture along with the appreciation not just of our own people, but that of a different, taking from the both of them our favored moments and opinions of. The kids would most certainly be A students if had never left the USA school system, as that is what they were averaging previously, and comparing to their two older siblings, in honors - gifted programs, and myself when I was their age, I am sure that the two of them would have maintained the same level of achievements. The exchange for the mixture of education, academically, for a wider range of open-mindedness in the world, to me is to far exceed that of the rest of their classmates and is unique and encompasses the realness of life. I am sure with their individually abundant unique capabilities in learning they will catch up with the rest, and in the end be better people from what they have experienced as children. They truly are aware of the fact that there is more to the typical labels of poor and/or privilaged. They comprehend the basic balance of nuturing the social standing to obtain necessities as well as how wonderful it can be to have bathrooms and lunchrooms and books provided in USA schools when most have no appreciation of. Personally I love the fact that I do not have to pay the daily cost of upkeep for the school grounds of two pesos each kid per day or that "my turn" to clean the classroom for a whole week will not cross my schedule in the USA ever ever ever.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Wife of a Mexican

      Down to the last week. I have tasted this in the past, and I know what is about to happen. Ricardo and I spent the majority of the first couple weeks finding the safe areas within each other to feel secure enough to open up. We have wonders of each others emotions, if during the time apart we talked to another once too often to fill in that need for someone to be attracted, to feel the sexual side to our souls that we were forced to bury for months at a time, in other words jealousy to everyone and anyone that was there when we could not be... we finally fought for the first time which relieved us of the tip-toe small talk that we encountered with each nightly call. Never could we argue on the phone about anything, for who could be separated for such long durations, with that one call before bed holding such meaning, only to be tossing and turning after an argument and to wake up the next day with extreme anxiety. The result would be facing the children with a smile and the anticipation of that next nightly call even more than usual, with apprehension as to what to expect. It is way too intense, and better to play it safe with "nice" calls every night, partial relationship calls, month after month. It is the life of a wife of a Mexican...
       Our visit started in anxiety but quickly moved on to everyday family life. Once we found that safe spot in where we relate comfortably, not just comfortably, but with appreciation for the other actually being present. To feel the right arm that was previously missing to suddenly reappear of course is a relief in itself, but to actually have him in front of me playing with the kids, and the kids responding as a natural, no time ever passed, bond... or to hear his noises, coughing, sneezing, laughing, anything, in the next room, again in itself a blessing. I washed his clothes, scrubbed his back, shaved his bald head, reorganized the house... we actually lived like a family - even if only briefly. This house is my safe spot. When in labor with our son, a million miles away from here, my house was my happy place to meditate myself into my calm during contractions. The spot of focus was the stairway... why, I do not have any idea. When I am here, it is like the air in my lungs exhales... ahhhhh... I can dream of a bunch of different remodeling directions that I could take this home, but instead, I wait to see our immigration issues unfold. We have no idea of our future, only in that we will be married in it and that we have children.
      This last part of our relationship renewal opportunity vacation is full of deep stares with tears with no words. We develop a sense of the other while standing close, as if in appreciation to this moment being gone soon, trying to hold on to that precious presence of someone that you love that you know will be gone the day after the next, when I will one day catch my breath and look around only to realize that its over, that it was all in memory, my husband and family are now only something that I can dream of, not hold or touch, just like an ironic joke. I am at the point now where I am planning my remaining weeks of school work around the last few days being computer free, because I know that I will be absorbed in our last few moments. I have figured it all out. I plan to complete some of that last week's work when I get back to Pennsylvania, to the big unorganized desk that I have been sitting at since last October, fighting immigration wars with words to myself and new friends, learning, growing, watching and listening.
       Today an interesting article with Obama once again silver tongue to us that are desperate for relief and reform, desperate for family unity,  and desperate for our children to be reissued their rights. They deserve to feel the security that is owed to them from their country. I read with hope and disbelief. I personally doubt the total turn over that is needed, or that the fact that many of us need so much more than the basic acknowledgement. By all standards this is certainly a first in this immigration game. Still,  we are waiting for an actual intelligent, meaningful statement that will give us back what was taken... even if that will not be possible, an attempt or better yet some type of recouping of our lives with rewards that can surely only ever be in a fantasy for sure. Still, how can your replace the time or years taken, it cannot be done.
       In this article those which are listed to benefit from his new idea are those categories that should in their new thought process be spared the deportation, as if the sudden enlightenment and official mention of, has somehow redeemed their efforts to destroy us. In the end, if ever to be an end, we would be bound to saying thank you for those who donated their lives for the fight in this war and if we ever won, as if they were the casualities that deserve more. We will surely never see anything of tribute or trophey but only that of a memory in the minds of those who struggled along side with them. The countless and endless petitions and articles of women, infants and children being imprisoned in Texas detention centers, to protests by angry Dream Act eligible youth that have lived in the USA since before they could walk, to the father that was killed or the father that killed himself with ICE wearing their blood, to the thousands of American children left in state custody, parent less, because they were American and their undocumented parents were taken from them and deported. Lets not forget the elderly man that died in custody after decades of living as a barber in the USA, or the gay couple of lawyer and professional salsa dancer that brought media to their plight, to the close friends in our own circle that cry, and laugh with each other late night while wondering what will happen to their lives in the end - all of us causalities, some of us loosing more than we could ever be repaid. And what dedication will be made in the honor to those who have already lost? I guess that we can simply be chalked up to one description made clear as Obama states in what the new guidelines hold as, "the policy change is meant as a framework to help prevent non-priority undocumented immigrants from 'clogging the system'" as if we are all nothing more than a bunch of damn hair balls. I resent that. We are some of the most patriotic intelligent people that this country has to offer.
       Perhaps this is a start. Maybe we will be witness to more talk and more articles in the future, as has always been expected. There of course are too many of us to ignore. I am in hopes for our pain to be remembered as that of valiant heros, fighting a war of immoral injustice with our computers, with our words, with our calls to the politicians and letters that get lame responses. I wonder if ALEC members will ever feel the guilt that their personal collection of pennies are laced with our dried blood in the engravings of the Lincoln Memorial on their tails. I am going to have to say no, that they will not.
     The next generation will be our children, those who have been through this from the position of their young tiny height looking up at the adults with curious eyes. At that moment we will be redeemed in some way. The plight of our days, our months apart. As we wrap up our family visit, my son has now fully recovered from the anger that he faced. At three and a half years, a boy does not understand his father's voice on the phone that says I love you, it is not my decision to not be there with you. No instead the waiting turns into unhealthy emotional issues. We are arriving to that place once more with a fresh batch of love to tied us all over for awhile, how long, no one knows. But the life of a wife of a Mexican now a days is only to be appreciated from her own kind... those who walk in the same shoes, as fellow Americans.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Mexico w/o my health, my English, or my mommy...

      I am the type that likes to experience more pain, like hair pulling pain or pounding on my leg pain or some type of distraction from the illness, when the time comes, that I may be plagued with. I wish for my mom to run her fingers though my hair, scratching the skin of my scalp along the way, as I lay there pueking. To be sprawled across a hard tile bathroom floor next to an air vent blowing on my nose that smells like damp concrete coming from a basement, gives me more comfort than a bed would; that is as long as the sound of running water was soothing my ears. When I have a headache I need to be cold, with a clean bleached line dried sheet to give me the correct placement in my mind to work on my feelings of health, mind over matter. If acupuncture were to be offered, I confess, I would make a good candidate. The intensity of the needle pricks would send well invited chills throughout my body. Or perhaps an out of body experience in which I could float above my own self and go out of the window in search of a breezy hillside with long grassed fields of flowers and crickets and lady bugs and big stones with fresh moss that grew on the shady sides clinging to the stone with its sturdy hard cold surface, that is where I would find my peace. A big oak tree with branches that encompassed that same field would give me a place to nap, right in the nook of one of the largest branches, with its rough bark pushing in on my facial skin as I rest in its arms. Then I would feel better. Escaping through imagination is an important part of making the hike up the dreaded path of being sick.... escaping... going to my childhood porcelain bathtub and the dark blue checked tile with the angel wallpaper, or were they Greek goddesses, either way, they were my protection.
       I walked past the bucket that was sitting in the mid-morning sun and looked down to see the fish, maybe a dozen, about as long as a size-seven shoe. They were whole, as if just been caught, but I had not noticed anyone mentioning a fishing trip recently, and found out later to be purchased from a street vendor, with a rate of God only knows how long they have been dead. I briefly wondered why they were there, out in the courtyard, unprotected from the sun. Of course I did not take the time to ask, because it is the little things like that that I avoid due to the language barrier. It is hard to convey the exact word, combined with the perfect attitude, as to not provoke a defensive comeback as to why I may seem to be correcting their actions as to leaving fish sit in a bucket in the sun. I let it go and continued on my way through the courtyard to the hallway that led to the backyard where the shower room was located and did what I had to do within my own focus, like a good woman.
        The decision to take a long drive to a neighboring town was mentioned and it excited me for the opportunity to add to the photo collection of the Jalisco countryside that the roads wrapped through. Ricardo enjoys wearing shoes that are made of leather and weaved rope, resembling the look of a tightly pulled hammock. I do not bring insult to the continuation of the annual purchase, each white roped shoe replacing the worn leather and grey rope of the last, the exact pattern year after year, same buckle, same cut out sole with the tiny nails around the perimeter. I cannot say that I am embarrassed in any way to walk with him with these shoes, as quite honestly they make him look attractive in a thrifty comfortable exotic sort of fashion. Right next to the pile of shoes were the neatly stacked cowboy hats that had one sort of teetering on the top, obviously misplaced in the style from the others. My daughter snagged it up as she noticed my eyes on it while I attempted to swing the umbrella stroller with the baby into a side area and place the brake lock on. She put the hat on my head and said "that is so you mom." It fit perfect. Around the middle are beads of blue and tan with a light colored weaved straw material, something that struck my self indulging side and I needed it instantly. My son translated to the store owner of the price which is more than I would ever spend on myself while in Mexico, $150 pesos can feed our family for two days if not longer, but I just had that feeling, that voice, telling me, "do something for yourself for once foolish girl, you are no spring chicken, enjoy!" Ricardo did not seem to mind throwing the hat in with the shoe purchase, so that made it all the more ridiculously enjoyable to walk out of the store with it, down the long hacienda style walk of side by side stores, looking over at the town's central park through the arch-ways between pillars as I walked, pushing a stroller, with my shades and new hat. Now I was truly "in Mexico".
        When we got back to the house of my in-laws I was hungry of course and was told to go eat. Yes there is never a polite invitation as "would you like to?" It always comes in more of a "for what you are not eating right now?! Co-mmmaaaaaeee (Come) that instruction is really never a difficult request to respond immediately to for me, because I love food. The meals are based on the time schedule of morning, pile it in as much as will fit, it has to last till mid-day, upon which is the big meal of the day, again that you binge like it is that last food for miles. Sometimes if you are lucky there is a snack towards eight or nine in the evening. If it is taquitos, you have just lucked out, especially if you get tons of guero chiles cooked on the grill, my favorite. The variety of snacks from the camote sweet potato topped with lechera or the sugar rolled churro, or the pica salsa verde Oaxaquenos can find a friend to your tongue's mood. Usually it is some type of pan, or danish of the Mexican style, sugar spared, top with swirls of cajeta or meil, then wash that down with some milk, or leche, or some tea of one of the various plants' leaves from the backyard boiled in water on the stove, and there you go, ready for bed.
      His sister tells me to pick up a bowl on the way over to the stove that she was mandating, serving spoon in hand. She was sitting in the kitchen early that morning cutting up vegetables at the table, around 7 a.m., with her hair up and sleeping clothes still on by herself. I walked in half asleep to try much luck at tipping the giant drinking water bottle that nestled in the metal bracket sling that permitted the water to be poured out without having to pick the heavy container up off of the ground. Sometimes it was difficult to tip it just enough to only fill a cup full, for it required control of the heaviness of the weight plus the correct momentum on the tilt. I choked down two Advil that I was desperate for. I woke up with a broken neck apparently some wild dream I must of had knocked me into my 40's and my muscles and spine did not agree, because I could not move my head. I spilled a bunch of water in the process of tipping the jug to get my small amount needed accomplished, with a smile, a simple "hi" (I gave up on trying to be the American gone espanol switch over and have recently accepted that things come out of my mouth for a reason, justified with the fact that I am busting my butt to get my online teacher degree, works for me.)
     It is hot. The kitchen has sweat shop written all over it, but I am hungry. I proceed to the stove and looking down on the huge metal serving spoon that his sister was heading toward my bowl in hand is a fish head, eyes and all, among some type of red colored broth and I seemed to be making out, what is that, a whole shrimp with his stabby looking head and black wet nub eyes.... I made a face and said oh no, no, no gracias no...los ojos, oh no no... los ojos meaning the eyes on that spoon are a little too much for me to consume, even politely. So she retreats back to her own place at the table and hands me the spoon to fend for myself. I try to dig through the broth to find at least a side of a dismembered body of one of the fish, thinking that I could try scraping the skin off and getting a bit of meat from, at least so that I can act as though I am enjoying myself at the table with everyone. I even threw in a few shrimp. The stew was actually made with chiles and had my luck at some floating around so I snatched a few of those. The pot next to it had the cooked cubed vegetables from the morning, and in the pan was rice with slices of chile. I put a heaping spoonful of each onto my broth and mixed it around with my spoon once I was at the table seated with everyone. It would have been real swell to have one of those cool mist dispensing machines it was so hot, but no.
      I was hungry and the dish was a little too much work. It felt as though I were trying to eat with chopsticks, the same "come-on" and want feelings that I want to throw them down and grab for a fork moment that hits. I could not really find a way to escape the frustration though, so I continued to pick all of the little fish ribs from the mix of vegetables and rice that seemed to find their way out of the fishes' bodies and into the broth. I peeled the shrimp legs and skin and snapped the heads off and ate one one of those, and even picked some of the meat from one of the body halves of fish that I had spooned out onto a plate beside my bowl, to my disappointment the meat was so tightly infused with the skin of the fish that it would not peel off, so I just ate it. I glanced around the table and everyone else was chomping down the whole shrimp, including my husband who reminded me of a raccoon funny enough, eating that shrimp in that way, head and all... I justified the whole thing as that it must have many good health qualities for our bodies.
       Then the burning started. I did not pick on anyone that day enough to deserve that beating. We were packing the car with our luggage and plastic bags of shoes and wet towels and dirty clothes and pillows and whatever else comforts four children on a two week trip to grandma's house. It was our planned night of driving back all night, while the kids were sleeping in the back of the van, for the 6-9 hour trip from Jalisco to Cuernavaca. I informed Ricardo that I was not feeling too well.
       We continued to pack the van, at a pace that said that we were in no hurry, just half of our determination was being dealt out in the organizing and cramming of the bags, for we figured we could just throw it into the house when we were back at our condo throughout the following day without any type of pressure. I felt bad and told Ricardo that something is really wrong with me, my stomach is on fire. He asked me to point where the pain was located on my stomach and I showed him in between the nook of the ribs, the actual stomach cavity. His mom decided to make an oatmeal shake for me. Ricardo blamed it on my coffee habit and my daily over-indulgent consumption of hot chiles, which is a personal weakness. Everyone was sitting around talking and laughing, knowing that this was our last few hours. I went to the kitchen to drink down the potion of cure. I immediately felt something and ran to the bathroom and pueked. I told Ricardo "vomito" and asked him to keep watch on the babies while I would try to get over it for thirty minutes and rest on the bed.
          There was a mood of the final count down to the fact that the van was packed and the anticipation of our trip that touched all that were there to visit us, which was roughly fifteen or sixteen more people adding to our already fourteen in the house. There was Spanish conversation and shouts flying through the air giving me uncomfortable hot feelings and irritations, and kids chasing each other around, screaming and giggling too close to the other side of the closed door in the room in which I was really trying to mentally go to my childhood happy place so as to talk myself into being full of health. Their loud voices were in my respected air space and no one seemed to understand that I was trying to do something important, something that required intense concentration, rest for the trip and talk myself out of being sick. I ran to the bathroom again, this time it was worse.
        I grabbed a bucket on my way back to the bedroom this time, probably the same damn bucket those fish were in that mid-morning, You know, you would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. The week before, my father in law's 8o year old brother, brought in enough meat for a small army and it was stewed as chunks in some type of Mexican red sauce. It pleased me greatly to have an endless amount of meat on my plate after eating different variations of beans and vegetable meals for days, so I devoured a bunch as did everyone else. But when I noticed that the same pot was on the stove the next morning, at a rapid boil, and then still sitting in the same spot that afternoon for dinner, and then the next day, without being refrigerated once, I felt like I may have been singled out in my own quiet determination of talking myself into whatever reality that everyone else was in that said that this was ok. I have been on my death bed more than once on these visits. My stomach cannot handle the same things as what everyone is used to. You would think I would learn.
I do not want to sound arrogant towards different lifestyles. I am explaining from my point of view as I went through my day. A point of view that is from a woman that grew up in the outskirts of Pittsburgh with enough Aqua-net to coax my hair into a huge mane in the 80's, in a house that plopping down on the shag rug in from the the HBO that was on TV to enjoy a movie while eating a heaping bowl of Captain Crunch in the middle of the afternoon, without having to ask for permission from anyone, just because that is what I felt like doing... is how I formed my views on living. A bottle of Pepsi in the fridge, or a huge bag of Doritos on the counter was not considered a treat that needed to be monitored, it was just an available part of the array of common kitchen items.
         Food poison has had its way with me in Mexico. There is a restaurant, plastic chairs and tables in a concrete block garage on the corner, that serves al pastor, a block from our place within walking distance. We had the best basic pig out a few years ago, equipped with three different salsas, endless supply of warm tortillas, 'Boing' in a glass bottle (my favorite flavor guayaba, of course), and a plate of fresh crisp radish. I was the only one... The only one to have instant issues from the food out of the whole family that ate from the same heaping dish of meat that sat in the middle of the table. The question that bothered us, was why not all of us? The Dr. Simi hired physician at the local pharmacy explained to us that some people are more susceptible than others, especially since I have spent my entire life accustomed to a certain vacuum-packed sterile food, my stomach was now lazy to the necessary strength that it needed to handle most foods here in Mexico. My husband on the other hand is blessed with this type of stomach and so are my children, even though American, started out eating here young enough to only be affected before the age of two years. Great, an explanation.
It makes sense when I see how my mom treats meat, as though it were equally naughty to her private underclothes, out on the counter. She swipes it underhanded to a place of concealment without a sound. Into the fridge, a bit annoying, for I am usually, as in 99% of the time, the chef, when we are at the house of my father. My mother will helicopter over me in the kitchen while I cook, to be sure if meat is involved in the mix, it is in the refrigerator, piece by piece, as I cook it. Her peeve is thawing meat in the sink. My daily morning routine of taking the meat out for dinner to thaw in the double sink is forever being interrupted, for at the needed time, the frozen meat that was not given time to thaw, foils the attempt of an organized, prompt mealtime. The food is finished and immediately she plastic wraps and refrigerates anything not finished from the pan even before she will sit down to eat. She is fanatical about meat. So then makes sense to me when I discover the possibility of my stomach having the personality of a pampered princess child.
       I sit on the edge of the bed, at this time Ricardo has cancelled the trip home, obvious to the fact that I was not going to be the ideal companion with a man who was on a mission to make it to the destination that much quicker than the last attempt, in less time than it should take, with few stops as possible, as most men do. I am pressing my face to the blue painted concrete block wall of the bedroom in between throwing the bucket up to my face to rid more of those damn vegetables that I could still picture her cutting at the table that morning with my broken neck, half asleep. It was now dark out, maybe 9 p.m. The guests were carrying on, talking and laughing in the next room, right on the other side of the wall that I was making out with. It was something about the smell of that cold concrete and paint that was aiding me, dramatic as it may have appeared for me to be so passionate to a wall, instead of being normal and holding onto a pillow or blanket. His sister and mom and even his brother made their twenty-one trips in to advise Ricardo on what to do with his sickly wife. I would anticipate them walking out after each conclusion that there would be no conversation from either of us, me with the wall, holding the bucket, and him with his usual, eyes glued to the TV that I insisted he put on mute. I could not handle that novela and the unfamiliarity of being in my condition with the Spanish language encircling my mind, it was just too much of an opposite of my childhood home and mom that I longed for at that moment. The very second that they would turn for the door, giving up, and walking out concluding each time that they made their point of caring about my illness, I would let it go into the bucket again, delirious with the sharp burning explosive pains that were happening in my stomach, but aware enough to be embarrassed at people watching me hurl.
         I had a stab in my lower stomach and then I gave in to the idea that his mom was insisting of going to the doctor. My son was sick (with food poisoning) years before with diarrhea and a high fever when he was just a baby. We were visiting, so we went to several doctors, all giving us different conclusions, but nothing working. At two in the morning one night, I said "Ricardo, if I was in the USA right now, I would be taking him to the emergency room. It is not normal for a baby to have diarrhea and a fever for so many days, or rather weeks." We had even seen a woman who gave him a belly massage with some magic oil potion for three days in a row, nothing was working. We bundled him up and went to the doctor's office at 2a.m., after I assured him I would not drop the subject, and his mom came with us. I was told to not talk (American money dollar signs would be sniffed out) so they did all of the talking while I sat with a stupid worried mom look on my face. The office of the doctor was built with his home behind the door in the hallway, as many private practices (and family owned stores) are in Mexico, so the doctor looked half asleep, which I am sure he was literally. He gave the baby a couple injections, which is custom to treatment, and charged us 800 pesos. The comparison is that the doctor that we usually go to around the corner from my house is a 25 peso fee for consultation. When I was pregnant, and had a sonogram at the doctor's office in the city, it was 200 pesos. I remembered this, therefore for me to decide on the doctor at this point, knowing that we only had $300 dollars to get us through another month, is what you might say desperate for relief. I was not nauseated and did not have diarrhea, but was with severe burning eruptions of hot lava. It scared me because of the past experience of being hospitalized some time ago in Mexico. It scared me more than the actual pain. The memory of the past that changed my opinion of the free spirit life of living in Mexico, the exotic experience, the reality of medical customs and the near death, good-bye world moment.
       The reminding feeling of my stomach hurting took me to a previous moment, that similar burning feeling that went on for days, and me brushing it off as too much chile or indigestion of some type. The pain woke me up one night around four in the morning. When my eyes first opened, I had to focus on where I was. The few weeks during our transitions, it is hard for me tell immediately where I am at when I wake. As I conversed with myself I realized in a calm acceptance that something was majorly wrong with my body, perhaps my appendix? I rolled off of the mattress onto the floor where Ricardo was sleeping and whispered to him that I was not ok. We held each other for awhile. The baby was asleep and moments like this were rare, a treasure. I had only been back in Mexico a few days. We arrived in Guadalajara that Wednesday and spent the rest of the week with his family. It was now Monday. After a 7 hour drive over the weekend, we were in now in our condo in Cuernavaca. The previous Monday we flew from Pennsylvania to San Diego, spent the day with my sister, and then taxi-vanned our way over to Tijuana to take a flight into Guadalajara where we met Ricardo who had been visiting his parents for the week. This gave us the opportunity to show off our new baby daughter who was now 7 weeks, his mother's name of Socorro as the baby's middle name, a special introduction. The kids and I were in the United States since Christmas day and it was now the beginning of April, the baby's birth occurring in February, two weeks past the given due date. We were so happy to be in each others' arms finally. When we are apart, our nightly phone calls lack in showing expression for our emotions and after spending the last month of our pregnancy and birth of our daughter apart, we needed to be close. The baby was asleep. We had sex and then he made some tea for me. It was some ancient Indian potion, is what I call it, for bad nerves that he bought to calm himself while we were gone as he was depressed and alone, waiting for our return. It was made of tree bark and it tasted bitter and sour and gross. He felt that my stomach issues were only wrecked nerves due to all of the travel, but the special tea did not stop my stomach burning. We decided to try to find an early morning doctor somewhere.
       It was 6a.m. on a Monday. Doctors offices opened at eight or nine, so we loaded all the 4 kids into the van and drove over to his sisters house about ten minutes away. The pain was increasing, but not to the point of being unbearable, just an annoying painful burning in my stomach and lower right side, but I was still able to smile. I knew it was an appendix and I do not know why I knew, it was just a voice in my head. My sister in law called her doctor friend of the family, while everyone ate breakfast, and then we all piled back in the van to go to see the doctor. His office was about 20 minutes of a drive away, and although I knew him from holidays and get togethers, I never visited his office, so I was not real sure where we were going. All that I knew is that my pain was increasing. I had tears in my eyes when we arrived at his office thirty minutes later. Ricardo had a panic look in his eye. The doctor said it was my appendix and typed up a prescription diagnosis for us to take onward to the hospital. It was serious.
       My husband drove as though he was in a dune-buggy over the speed bumps and curves and narrow spaces that the van barely fit through during morning traffic. Everyone was in a hurry, and Mexico traffic is more like an audience in a boxing arena. I let out little squeaks and squeals at every jar of the car hitting the curves and bumps. We slammed into the front row of the hospital and raced in to the ER. They calmly told us to take a number and have a seat. The number that we had to wait for was #11.
        Ricardo stood by me on the seat with my face buried into his stomach, his shirt, quietly crying. My kids hovered around his sister across from us. Almost every seat in the huge room was occupied, watching us. I nursed our baby in the van on the way there, as to be sure that she got her last fill of milk and she would be ok for at least an hour or two. My husband has a bit of a temper, and a definite issue with protection over his family. It was all just too much for him to be told to wait until he burst opened the examination room door and rambled quick face slaps of Spanish jibber to the surprised doctors that were tending to a couple different patients. The nurse quickly pushed him out, but they took me in to the other room, gave me a nightgown, and told me to undress into it. They pushed around on my stomach and told me to rest on a cot in among a dozen of already occupied cots in a relatively small room. All of the other people seemed to be old, older than me, by at least 15 years. The doctors and nurses all young, at least 15 years younger than I. Ricardo sat and held my hand while I stared at the ceiling trying to concentrate on not totally freaking out. I was not offered any type of pain medication and the pain was intense. Tears streamed down from the corners of my eyes into my hair. Ricardo told me I love you, and I figured I must look like bad, was that his last words, because he never used to tell me that. I felt it pop inside of my lower abdomen; the pop of my appendix bursting it infection through my body. I felt it and I let out a scream, followed by my hands gripping my face as to keep in the rest of the pain that I felt like letting out in this very public room. The doctor did not even look up from his desk. Ricardo yelled over, and he sluggishly came over with the xray results. He rambled a bunch of things to Ricardo and left. What was wrong, did you tell him, help me Ricardo.... he said you have gas.
There was not anyone who spoke English or even attempted to. Ricardo was not allowed to stay with me, but was told that they would know in a couple hours when the tests came back from the lab from the blood and urine (that I had to give in the cot in a bed pan with the blankets pulled over, no privacy curtain) He left me there to tend to the kids and to take them to his sister's house to eat, stopping to purchase a bottle and formula for the baby. As time went by I got worse. The sharp intense pain spread over my entire body from my entire abdomen into my chest and settling into my collarbone area for some reason. I tried to catch the eye of every nurse and doctor that walked by me as they tended to the other patients. I would say I'm not ok, please help me. No one did. Some of the nurses would come over, and then listen to my whispers of broken Spanish trying to explain that I was not a mamilia, that yo tengo seis bebes y dolor es no problemo but this was muy mal... maybe they did not understand that. Staring at the bag hung above me of IV water, I asked the nurse what it was, her answer being agua. I deviously planned to hijack the tube from by arm and suck down the water for the thirst that I was experiencing was that fierce. I asked for a cloth with water, ice chips, something... I just got guilty polite smiles with a head shaking no for an answer. I was dying and I knew it.
       The last time Ricardo was there was at noon, which was following the pop of the infected appendix. It was now 7 pm. Ricardo came in. By this time my appearance had gone from a woman in pain earlier when he was there, to a very delirious person on her death bed. I said get me out of here I am going to die Ricardo, they do not care. Even the other patients, the old guy in the corner, brought it to the doctors attention that I was not ok. They were busy or something.
      We planned the escape. Ok we can go back to the doctor friend, get some pain pills and then go to another hospital. Or we can go to the other hospital... either way I wanted some pain pills. This pain was worse than childbirth with 5 all natural childbirths and one c-section notched in my belt I felt like a professional in the opinion of pain scale rate. A person knows when they are at the edge between life and death. Sounds funny to say now that it is in the past, true as it was. It is sort of an acceptance that it is over. When there is extreme pain, it is an anticipated relief... death.
       Ricardo called his sister to tell her to get a hold of the doctor friend, that we were on our way to get a prescription for pain meds. We told her of the plan that was relayed to us of my treatment and that was to spend the night on that cot, and they were talking of a transfer at noon to another hospital to receive some tests. I would be dead by then in a Spanish speaking world. His sister called the doctor friend. He was angry. The doctor made a call to the hospital personally telling them that I was the wife of the very dear family friend. Three older senior doctors were at my side within moments that spoke English. The said we are going to give you surgery. I said what time, and they said right now. I was so happy, I said thank you. Imagine that. It took someone to call so that I would be here right now to write about it with my children sleeping on the floor in front of me. Almost blows my mind.
       I was wheeled through the maze of halls to the elevator to the operating area. The boof that was pushing me bumped into a corner, Ricardo yelled at him, baboso. He is this fatherly figure to people on the street, reprimanding them as if they were a small child, even if they are a foot taller than he is. He amazed me with his stance that he took. He was to stay behind at the swinging private doors. The hallway was cluttered with miscellaneous surgical items, with doors open to dark room in which operations on people that I did not know were being taken place. I could see the naked legs and the bright light shining on the body with the surgical tools and white sheets and doctors all standing around with masks. I wondered if it was morally right for me to be catching sight of that personal moment. Then I wondered if my own naked body would be a vision for whoever walked by. At that point the wonder and the care to do anything about it was only surface entertainment for my mind that focused on the possibility of the end of the pain or of my own breathing, one or the other, either of which would have been better than the moment.
       A boy doctor with blonde hair and glasses came over to me ans spoke perfect English. He wore a white doctor coat and pants and carried a chart in his arm. He said to me "We are going to perform surgery now. We will open your stomach and see what is making the pain happen for you. You will be sleeping after for some time. Can you sign these papers for our permission?" I was delirious enough to say to him "You look like my son," a comforting moment for me, truly. A nurse preparing the operating table was talking to the doctor and she was asking about me, in Spanish. I have learned that reading facial expressions goes a long way after years of living surrounded by people that you do not understand. I heard her ask why I was so relaxed. That made me feel brave. They pulled the wheelchair over to the table. I stepped up on the step stool in my bare feet, sat down on the operating table and bumped my head on the light overhead, bend my neck around so that I could lay down and place my arms in the brackets that made me into a Jesus. They put a mask on my mouth and the English boy doctor said you will fall asleep now. The medication went into my body like dye in a jug of water, so smooth and delightful, I had to share. Pulling the mask from my face, I told those Spanish medicals surrounding my operating table in my best English, "it doesn't hurt anymore..." and I fell asleep.
       My nose was itchy. Where was I? My hand ran across my stomach, there were two huge bulges of wound bandages. What would the reason be for two? I could swear the guy across from me was laughing at me, to the point where i was offended and annoyed. Was the fact that I was out of it so funny that you would laugh at me helpless caught in this bed? I realized I was seeing things due to the drugs of the operation. The nurse wheeled me out to Ricardo waiting. I was still alive, yeah!
       The doctor told us of the two hour very complicated surgery that they had to wash out my whole insides; such a nice thought. I was stuck in that hospital for 5 days. Nurses are not to help you. They are there only to change your bandages, IVs, and all of those types of things. If I needed to go to the bathroom, that was Ricardo's responsibility. If he was not there, I waited until he was. The bathroom was a good 10 minute walk, of course at a slow post operation pace, hunched over grabbing on for dear life. My bed was a plastic mat about 2-3 inches thick. There was no air condition, and the plastic made it worse. The bed did not raise up. So I lay flat on my back, looking up. There was no TV. There was no food or water for me for 4 days. My head hurt so bad. I could hear screams in other rooms echoing down the halls. The lady next to me endured surgery 3 times that month. They just kept taking organs out until they figured out what was wrong with her. I wished the best for her. She had a 10 month old baby waiting for her at home. Her mom fed me jello on the sly one day... spoon fed me... a stranger.
        I finally showered with Ricardo's help in the shower room. It was ironic for me. I made jokes before I left Pennsylvania that Ricardo was not going to see my body in the light because of my 10 pound baby stretching out my skin and the fat just hung there like a deflated parachute... and here he was showering me, washing me hair, helping me move in every way shape and form for an entire 5 day stay. My boobs were leaking everywhere, my gowns were wet, but I never really noticed for the pain was still there, but this time it was from the surgery. I had a scar from my bikini line to my belly-button, and a hole in the side with a tube sticking out of me, leaking out any remaining pus from the infection, how gross. The tube was pulled out the last hour of my stay, by a boy that was an aide of some type. He was so busy flirting with the nurse in the room that he just yanked it out... about threw me through the ceiling. The whole thing cost a total of $149 dollars. What a bargain.
       So much for comfort zones when you are not ok in another country. Everything that you are accustomed to, the things that lull you into the state of mind to overcome the pain... all gone. You are dealing with raw. And there is no turning back.
Yes, this memory plays on me now when anything feels bad. Four months after that experience my two year old had sharp pains in his stomach and when the doctor said appendix I almost lost it. My husband pulled up to that same hospital and I screamed no no not here. We went across the street to a children's hospital that was supposedly more expensive, but I insisted because of my memory. It turned out to be just clogged bowels, but it was the threat of the abuse and not the actual abuse so to speak that freaked me out. That is my baby. Changed a lot about my need for residency in Mexico and the reality of fighting for Ricardo's paper in the USA became that much more of a determined goal at that very moment.
Memories play tricks on a mind, especially when sick. So back to Jalisco and the whole fish in the bucket food poison, which that is all it turned out to be. We went to the doctor and she performed a sonogram and said that everything was horribly "inflamado" and of course it was my fault, (as a woman in a country that has not found women's lib- how dare I cause such a dramatic episode) for eating way too much chile, for now I seem to have colitis....
       This doctor was wrong and even though the injection of pain medication that I received on the spot really did wonders, we made the long trip home the next day, living on pain meds, and worth the 300 pesos. I started to get the chills and sweats and hyper sensitive skin and achy muscle thing and I slept almost non stop... I knew that I did not have colitis, especially when I googled it. I had food poison. We went to the doctor here, that knows us, as we are there every other week, and he confirmed it to my unbelieving husband that it was indeed from the food. HA is all I had to say. It wasn't my chile or my terrible coffee habit, or the pepsi that I crave sometimes... it was in fact the fish.
He is still in denial.