Sunday, November 13, 2011

My "truly wise" decision to move to Mexico, back in the day...

         I met Ricardo and we hit it off right away. Our eye contact took precedence over words and body language became our main form of communication. Call it what you like, but we were happy with each other.
        The ladies at my job in the big booming business of the third party administrator work comp insurance company were hesitant to congratulate me on any type of catch of any man being that they nursed me through the divorce that took on a life of its own. It was two years or so later, and I was feeling pretty full of myself with my huge selection of funky heels and dresses and my energy levels were at an all time high. The kids and I had a new apartment and I had it all shabby-sheik Florida style. We were living the Florida life with beach visits every weekend and not a care in the world, well except for little stuff like hitting the flea markets. I was a confident person and attentive single mom. I was not looking for love, it just happened one day unexpected but it started very passionate and stayed that way. We still kiss like it was the first, or last, with fire and ice. It is both unstoppable and undeniable.
           Meanwhile, as I am in love at first sight, and taking that to the ladies at work, what the hell am I doing with a man who lives with me and doesn’t work anyway? What right could I possibly have to justify that in their eyes? How dare I drop the curve in the grade to all women of the world? Unfortunately I did not really see the problem, so I stated my mind… “Look, I am picked up from work, my kids already in the car picked up from school, to go home to dinner on the table (delicious at that) and massages and sex and showers and smiles… and he is hot!” Why should I be bitching? I am guessing that the woman’s rights were meant to be more than this… more than ‘what’ was the question. In a few short years I dug myself and my children out from hell and it was time to just be happy without proving to someone that their measurements or normative standards were not mine. I was choosing life, and for the first time, it was my turn. Besides, did they have a hot guy sitting in their apt? Sorry but no. So who is using who? It was not like I was desperate, or lacking in opportunity. Shy or awkward are probably not the correct vocabulary either. A few years previous, yes… but now, I was full of spunk. It was just my life happening the way it should happen.
           When a woman finds herself at the end of a marriage, what sometimes happens is weight bearing guilt for the opinions of the outside world that seem to want to take away some part of that conquest that she herself had to partake in achieving. Granted, many divorces are happening without too much attention, but regardless, what do you feel about me when I say my first husband has custody of my first two kids, and my second husband lost his rights to our two, leaving me in an abuse shelter? Wow, what a screwed up woman… I am passed that phase of bearing everyone else’s shortcomings in accepting that at this point in my life. In other words, whatever makes you feel better (than I)?  I know what happened in truthful details, without escaping responsibility or blame or any other attention getting off the hook schemes that people come up with. I know, my ex knows, my second ex/childhood friend knows… and a handful might have a brief concept. A fat web has been strung around their lies and finger pointing to promote their innocence. I have learned to deal with the lot of it all and it was indeed not instinctual, but painfully and brutally learned.
          Ricardo was young, twenty five. He turned twenty six and I bought him a cake and a gold crucifix cross necklace that he still wears everyday. We invited all his buddies up to my apt. They were humble as they walked in, acting all shy, like it was a big deal to be invited into my place. Everyone took a slice of cake. One of the guys (boys really, so young) was excited and giggly in their Spanish of course I did not understand… he was going home the next day and was beside himself. I could see Ricardo’s eyes and feel his thoughts as he tasted this boy’s excitement too and longed to see his family. I think he felt comfort with me. I figured out why once I lived in Mexico awhile. There are many similarities between his family and me, both in attitude and appearance.
         His original apt dwelling was downstairs from mine that he shared with other undocumented friends. They were clean cut, did not do any type of drugs, family boys…roughly 7 or 8 of them. One of them had an American girlfriend, Hortensia, who found a bigger better place for everyone. Ricardo stayed behind with me, but we were at the house with his friends often. Gated housing plans are very common in Florida, especially ones that supply a pool for the plan. We were very happy to use our privilege to the pool. Once a woman was angry that we were there, perhaps a bit racist as she looked at my dark skinned friends swimming in “her” pool, no sorry we had the right to be there. She said something smart, and I returned the favor and told her to f off racist b. she called the cops. I had to tell our side of it, while my Spanish speaking undocumented friends sat and waited it out. She felt that we had jumped the fence, until the couple who actually had their names on the lease of the house showed and it was straightened out. That was my first real taste of racism by a stupid asshole. No one talks to my man like that, sorry but no.
         We went through the holidays, with our little fiestas of Mexican grilled food and salsa dancing on the back patio with our friends. Most of them spoke English, not perfect, but a couple of them did yes. We had a trampoline for the kids who were always with us. Ricardo took them under his wing immediately. He picked them up from school everyday a few hours before he came to get me at work. I know that I was certainly impressed. My ex called to tell me what a beep be beep beep beep...whatever words that I have chosen to block from my memory, as the phone rang over and over. Ricardo answered, spoke in Spanish to him. All his friends laughed of course. The ex called back and Ricardo said in his best English, “What’s your problem you stupid bitch she is my girlfriend.” My seven-year old looked at me and said, “mommy you’re dead.”  We were forced to go into hiding that next day because of death threats. Ricardo kept the kids for me for a week as we were not allowed to put them in the school because the school was afraid of my ex. We had to move them to another school and move our apt in a secret covert operation. My parents flew down to help us. My ex was fighting charges of stealing a car that he staked out my apt that following weekend of a friend of his from his church group who he conned into buying his flight from PA so he could come down and kill me. Nice. I’m glad he stole her car. Especially when I told her over the phone when she called to warn me that she bought him a ticket, I said, “You don’t know what you have done.” The lawyer Susan Chapman was quick to call her to tell her if anything happened to me she was going to be held as an accomplice. That was a nightmare. Through the entire screwed up two weeks Ricardo, who had no idea what the hell was going on really, helped with the kids and moved the stuff out and into our new place. I had a Spanish speaking friend at work explain over the phone to him that my ex was dangerous and to be careful and keep the kids out of public. We had to look over our shoulder all of the time, rear view mirrors, you name it. I was told to stay away from my women’s abuse group even because they were afraid he would follow me and hurt them all.
            We had our new place equipped with drafty windows and rotting wood walls and some type of flooding thing out the back door which was perfect for Ricardo who loved to pee and spit from the open door. Yes it is gross… it was private though. This place was bigger. We had more space than we needed… and these huge spiders too. The house across the street worked for or owned a carpet company. One day they had all kinds of remnants rolled outside and said we could have them, so Ricardo carpeted the entire place. It looked really nice. This little old couple down the street moved across the street and Ricardo said come on lets help them… so we did, our good deed of the neighborhood. They gave us their old washer dryer set. Our place was totally set up. Ricardo did a lot of yard work and made the outside look half descent. The landlord was a scuzzball. He was racist and made fun of Ricardo every opportunity he could. Ricardo was working part time in construction again and brought home a huge turtle for the kids. He built a big contained area for it. Their little neighborhood playmate, Estrella, lived on the other corner with a big grassy yard with good climbing trees. They forgot the turtle too long one day and he walked off.
         Our life was okay, but this apt was really too much for me. It was $150 more per month and the electric was running $250 a month. It was surely faulty wiring. Honestly the neighboring home was the landlord’s other rental and I think that he had me paying for both rentals’ electric. It was putting me into the position of not having extra money.
         I was pregnant. It was not a trick on my part and it was not him forcing himself into my life on his part. It was just a passionate thing that happened, say what you will. I lost the baby. I spent my birthday in the hospital with Ricardo by my side. The doctor said that the baby was 5 ½ weeks so there was no heartbeat detected so they said the baby may make it that it was hard to tell... I told Ricardo, “There’s a baby!” He was happy. The baby passed out in the toilet two days after.
          In the meantime there was a lot of talk about us moving to Pennsylvania. I felt it was time to be close to my family and I needed them. Ricardo changed my heart. He made me strong. I was able to face what was going on back in my hometown, what with all of the rumors flying with two failed marriages, with my head held high. Plus my children were waiting. We talked all of the time, and I visited as often as I could, but it was just time to move to PA. My heart was softened by my love affair and he gave me courage and strength in such a way that made me see things about life differently. We decided to take a little vacation up to check it out. We stayed over a week and during that time we ate at every Mexican restaurant in the area and then some. Ricardo made my family dinner one night and everyone thought it was delicious. We sat by the Christmas tree with sweaters on and puffy socks. He played in the snow with the kids. We opened presents. He met my older kids. It went rather well, the vacation.
         Once back in Florida, we started to discuss the option of living in Mexico. He got really excited at the fact that I would even contemplate it. I tried my best to learn Spanish while I took notes that he helped me with and walked around with headphones on that the Learn Spanish cassettes played over and over. He missed his family so much and I could see the depression setting in. Valentines Day came and he got me a ring, that I still wear to this day every day, some balloons and a bracelet. I got pregnant on that day, for the second time, a month after the miscarriage. It was not planned out, thought out, or anything like that at all it was just passionate and it happened, as it should be.
           Life went on, and I knew he was seriously considering the Mexico thing. He started to talk about it more and more often. I began to push back with the idea that we should move to Pennsylvania. This became a major topic of every day. Finally, in all of my will to win the argument, I found a privilege perch to where I became comfortable with saying to him “I am going to PA, you can come, or what, move with your friends?” My strategy was to get him to conform to my wishes with my weapons of trickery. Unfortunately, it did not work. He arranged a ride to Mexico.
           I had to go get some dental work done, a root canal. I stayed home from work that morning to go to my appt and we sat on the swing together and ate lunch before I went back to work. He said I am going to Mexico, I did not acknowledge it because I was not going to give into him getting out of going to PA with me.  We went into the house and he held me against the wall and kissed me so passionately. He was saying goodbye, but I had no idea. I came home to find his clothes gone and a note on the counter that he loved me and he would be back in two months and his sister’s phone number. I raced to the school to get the kids, and to his friends house, they were ‘just’ pulling away. I followed them and called him on my cell. “Where are you?” He said something that I don’t remember, and I told him that I was behind him. They pulled over, we talked. He came with me and we left and talked and he was decided to stay. His friends were at our house when we pulled in. I said “Ricardo what are you doing?” He said, I’ll be back in two hours, “I am going to help him with a job and I will come back.” At about ten that night I knew he wasn’t coming back. I smoked a million cigarettes and cried. At that time we did not know I was pregnant again. I sat on the swing outside with the little old lady that we helped move and went into shock.
        He called me early in the next morning. The caller Id had a Texas number on it, it was the cell phone of some coyote guy. I just wanted to die. We talked and I cried. He kept saying sorry. It was over this call and many following calls that we made the plan for me to go to Mexico too. The only problem was I had no idea how to do this. I got the passports started and arranged to sell my things. I had a yard sale that I sold all of my gorgeous clothes and shoes for a dollar each item. I sold all of my inherited furniture, my knickknacks, my flea market collections over the years of my single life with the kids…everything. What didn’t sell, I left behind, half in the house, half in the yard, for whomever…
        Ricardo and I talked every night with calling cards. I promised my kids that were waiting for us with high hopes in PA that we would live for a little while in Mexico, and we would be back, to live in PA...Then Ricardo and I tried to figure out how I was going to get into Mexico. We decided to include the guy who drove him down. But this weirdo ended up calling me in the middle of the night asking me what I was doing or whatever, so I figured I would be best to drive myself. In the past I drove from Florida to PA and back by myself straight though and many times in the past not by myself…I could handle it, I had lots of money on me for motels and whatnot. We would just take our time. Meanwhile the knowledge that I was pregnant of course was noted. I had a sonogram at 13 weeks, telling me that the baby was normal and a boy with an obvious third leg. My passports were expedited in a month, and we were there, after driving 3 days at pregnancy week #14.

Not so romantic of a thing now is it?
But yet it was… and still is.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Organizing my thoughts again... no syntax, no poetry, no grace, just rambling

     Ricardo and I left for Mexico unrelated to immigration issues and lived in Mexico, got a condo, married, had two more kids... then we realized that little bit of hope that tells you that there must be one more rock that you have not overturned came to the last rock... we, the kids and I, could not receieve residential status there as we were thinking that we would. The immigration people in Cuernavaca got sick of seeing us with my fumbling over the language I think. They told us that it would be easier and less expensive and more possible for Ricardo to immigrate into the USA instead, as "one" person to deal with for papers and expense of it, rather than "five" people to try to get the residency in Mexico.
     So in order for us to live together, it is the USA that we are trying to live in because that is our basic only option at this point.
     I tried the most expensive lawyer in Pittsburgh. I had a meeting with her in summer of 2008 in a high rise office. She said he will never be allowed in the States no matter what hardship I have because he was here more than once. We gave up for awhile and just kept living on tourst visas, travelling to the border every 6 months.
     Then I tried an even more expensive lawyer with a 3 hour drive to, and 3 hour back, to Philadelphia in spring of 2009. I thought maybe with the championship ego that pricey lawyers have, they could surely find a way to pull this off at all costs. I was pregnant with Catherine then. They said he could never come here, and advised me to have the baby in the USA. The pregnancy would not be a hardship. They said with 5 grande they could possibly get him availability for a 3 month visit. Of course my Dad who was with me that paid for the $350 consultation fee, scowled at that idea. My Dad was funny because he took a bunch of no doze and drank a lot of coffee for the drive, wore a business suit, and we had a moment when Eliott was all fussy in the meeting so my Dad took him out in the hall. He came back all sweaty. He said Eli freaked out worse out in the hall because he could not see me. My Dad had a heck of a time. He couldnt wait to get outside again. The meeting was not very good.
     So while my Dad is consistantly throwing in the point that our relationship is ridiculous and costing him money, hinting for me to divorce and move on, but still dealing with us at that time, Ricardo and I and the kids are truly bonding into this ideal family unit. We threw in the towel and decided we would move out of Cuernavaca into his parents' place in Jalisco. There was a room for us. We started to slowly move our stuff over the 9 hour drive. We accomplished taking down the bunk beds and moving them, all of our wooden chairs for the table, some clothes, beddings, etc. It was slow moving because of the expense of travel. Our minivan could only hold so much, plus bodies. We would sell our condo and use the money to start some kind of business in Jalisco. At least we had a plan to be together though.
       Now our house in Cuernavaca had limited furniture once again. We went for years without and we finally had got to the point where we had things in our house and now half of them were at his mom's house, so we were back to the kids having no bed and sitting "just anywhere" at dinnertime. My appendix rupturing and close to death experience gave my mind somewhat of a different "want" to live there. When Eliott was two years old, and thought to have appendicitis as he cupled over, that was all I needed to experience and that was the point when I said okay I am getting your papers in the USA at all costs.
     We came into the USA October of last year, enrolled the kids into American school for the first time since kinder/first grade in Florida. I was actually surprised how well they did with their peers here, despite the fact that their B average in Mexico most certainly was not the case here. Lots of adjustments, lots of hopes, I hired a lawyer locally and planned to lie on the paperwork so that I could get Ricardo here. We debated over the 5 year jailtime penalty of purjury, and I decided that the risk of the 5 years was worth it because it was that important that we were able to find stability.
     During this time the meeting of some people took place. For the past year I had been talking my ass off in the American Latino group that Traciy ran, that most of the names that I see floating around now were a part of. But then I started to meet others. I met Giselle and Benjamin, then Emily. The whole thing became more of a group effort than was me feeling blindly my way through the darkness on my own. Hardly anyone in the previous group was ever in Mexico, let alone living there. A few had, like Sarah... and Jill actually was my first FB friend as she wanted to write an article for a magazine and include my story. She did not do it I assume. At that time there was not all of this mayhem. Our stories have become compiled with a gazillion other stories, making them not so rare at this time.
    Then the group came into be and the unity of all and everyone became a foundation for us all to compare notes. After maybe 5 months of me trying to hint through posts how to get Ricardo to the states with out actually telling too much of our circumstances (because everyone said that the govt read FB and I did not want to risk my 5 years in jail as I was till in motion to lie on the papers at that time) a break, the truth revealed to me finally after years of darkness. One night on chat Krystal asked me the exacts, I told her exactly everything that was involved,  and she said that he can get a waiver now. We confirmed that the next day with Amy, and she directed me to the lawyer that I have now, my fourth lawyer attempt.
    The lawyer is an awesome young woman that too went through this situation personally so I have heard, and some of her clients are my friends. She sent me a note with a list of things. I planned on seeing Ricardo on a visit to Mexico in summer, so I told her that most of the things that she needed on the list I would get at that time and file the papers when I came back. Trying to hold a conversation with Ricardo over the phone is difficult, but to try to get a list of information from him with our language barriers, no no no. His sister gave me most of the information anyway because Ricardo flat out did not know it.
    So we returned in September and through my mass depression I finally got the packette of information together and sent it. That is why in a nutshell we are finally sending the I-130 in now even though we left a year ago to get the papers.
    Ricardo has been very patient and very depressed. My son who is going to be 4 in a couple weeks has emotional damage. I have aged like 10 years easy in this last one year. We have visited twice, once in Feb we went for a month (me and the babies only) and once in the summer for 2 months (me and all 4 of the kids).
    Our next planned visit for the babies and I is in December the day after Christmas thru to the second week in February - the day before Catherine turns two years, to avoid the paying of one more seat on the airplane.
    After that I am going to have to do an overhaul on the working mode and get super established here to prepare for the following months of paying out to the lawyer, the papers involved, the trip to Juarez for him at approx 2 grand... he makes 40-50 bucks a week down there, enough to cover things there, but nothing extra. That is up to me unfortunately.
     I am taking online degree classes to get an AA in Early Childhood Edu so that in case this waiver does not pull through I will have an option in Dec 2012 when I graduate which will be around the same time as the waiver results I think, to go to Mexico to teach and use my work visa to aquire the proper residency there and pull my kids through with me. At least it would be more of a possiblity.
     I think that living in Mexico is great and would do so for the sake of being a family no matter here or there at least we are together. There are many wonderful qualities living in Mexico. I have the option of trying my best effort at living in the USA as opposed to our previous plan of the 5 of us Americans living in Mexico without proper documentation as "illegals" the thoughts of my childrens' futures was a heavy weight to bear of course. Of course he absolutely refuses to move our family to the border dwelling situation.
     So that was a bit of rambling as I am so good at. But that is our confusing life. It is not the same as most people that we are surrounded with. It really doesnt have ties with the current immigration system going haywire, we are just looking for a place to live. Just one of those black cloud moments. However because of the situation, I have become a part of it because I am angry at the lack of concern for me and my kids personally as Americans. When I look at it from my eyes, despite what is the current news, I feel, and always have felt, that our situation has been ridiculously swept under the rug, as if we should just forget our rights and "go away silently". Now that there are so many others, hey, come on, something needs to change - Obviously!!! I am not "jumping on the bandwagon" no I am routing for my own family mainly... but in the mean time I have discovered that it really is more than what the general public "knows" - why? Because it is hidden information. Look how long it took for me to find out anything. Even the lawyers did not know what to do. Seriously? I thought I had to be alone in the move to Mexico because there was not a drop of information out there it seemed. So I am joining onto the "bandwagon" for the main purpose of educating the general public so that we all get our fair day in judgement from our peers, not our "dysfunctional owners" who are trying their best to take over my country, as has been the light shed upon me in this past year of living without my husband, thank you very much land of internet.