01 March 2014

Living Across the Distance

So... I still live in Portland, Oregon.

I have yet to make the grand leap to move to Mexico. It has been almost 3 years that I have been going back and forth, spending probably thousands of dollars, and I'm still living here. There are a few reasons I still am here, most of which are entirely FEAR-based and selfish. I have tried to pack up and move on more than one occasion, but have backed out REPEATEDLY every time. Why? I ask myself the same thing.

I have a steady job here in Oregon that I absolutely LOVE. I may complain about it often, especially when it is stressful, but I am grateful for my work. I am a CNA in a nursing home; I get to work with amazing people all the time. The job pays pretty okay and it has sustained us on both sides of la linea for two years. It is a day shift job, which gives me the great opportunity to be at home with my kids in the afternoon, and I still have most of my day when I get off from work. There is time to go to the grocery store and make dinner.

Cecilia goes to a great elementary school with amazing teachers who are truly invested in her. It is the same elementary school that I attended as a child, and there is still a few of the same staff members lingering after all of these years. On my days off, I volunteer regularly in her class, stapling copies together or helping out with reading groups. I love watching Cecilia learn and evolve in her own setting around other kids.

We live at home with my parents, which is where we were living before Hector was detained. We had actually recently returned to Portland from Yakima, Washington because my father had had an accident. Being at home at 25 does seem pretty lame most of the time, but I get to be around my parents who are aging, and my kids get to spend time with their grandparents always. Also living in our home is Hector's mother, so my kids actually have both sets of grandparents around them all the time. It is easy for me to find childcare while I'm at work, and my parents love having the kids around. My dad is elderly now (turning 80 this year) and has been one of my biggest motivations for staying. He needs help. As a person who has skills to care for him, I feel very selfish and mean to "abandon" him here by himself. Every time I've packed my bags, I've unpacked them mostly for him. Because a girl's Daddy is her First Love.

My mother-in-law is home most of the daytime, and is the main childcare provider for my son, Isaias. This is great for him because he gets to be babysat in home, rather than some germ-filled childcare center, and he gets full bilingual immersion. At age 3 he is now fully bilingual in English and Spanish. He goes for walks with his Tita when she walks the dog and he gets to play with his Thomas the Train. He is also always home to greet me when I come home from work. He eats good food, rather than processed crap all of the time, since his Abuelita cooks for him every meal.

Portland is a beautiful city, in case anyone didn't know. It is a lot like that show Portlandia, which is why I don't watch the show: I don't get how it is funny. Everything is green and lovely and the mountains are spectacular when it's not raining. The bridges are great, the food is great, and I really just love my hometown. It's so hard to think that I will someday be leaving this amazing city filled with all of my memories, but I know it will happen some day.
Beautiful Portland, Oregon (January 2014)
Distance is REALLY stressful and REALLY puts a strain on a marriage. Hector and I were married on June 8, 2009. Hector was detained on April 16, 2011; right before our 2nd anniversary. Our son was just 5 months old and our daughter was almost 5 years old. Here we are beginning Spring 2014: he has been deported for over HALF of our marriage. Half. It doesn't even seem like I know how to be a wife sometimes. Arguments that would not happen if we were together physically happen all of the time. If Hector tells me to do something, I sometimes get arrogant and remind him that he is not here, so what he says doesn't matter. Selfishness is a huge problem that I struggle with more and more the longer that we are separated. We both have changed a lot since the forced separation. The kids feel our pain, not just if we have an argument, but it is no fun when I tell Cecilia that I can't make it to her class party because I have to work. The longer we are apart the harder it is on the kids especially.

Skype is a wonderful invention and I can honestly say I don't know if we would have survived this thus far without modern technology. However, Skype is not perfect. When Hector left, I was unemployed and our kids were small. Now I'm working full-time and running Cecilia to Girl Scouts and church or a school function, and on my days off, I try to take Isaias to the science museum to run off some of his energy. We are a busy family, and it sometimes seems like we don't have time anymore for Skype except when it's almost bedtime. I understand that we could possibly make more time for Skype and family time, but we get caught up in our selfishness and our busyness of life. Isaias has the easier time with everything; to him his dad is just a computer screen. Hector has been gone most of his life. It's hard on Hector when I say "Let's talk to Daddy!" and Isaias responds "No talk to Daddy! I want Thomas!". Most of that has to do with the fact that he is three, but also that is because he doesn't understand that his Daddy is any different than a movie.

So, my new goal is June 2014, when Cecilia finishes second grade. It will be right around Cecilia's 8th birthday. I plan on taking a load of half of our stuff to the house where Hector lives coming up in the next few weeks; my first trip by car. Then, our second load will come with us when we move permanently. My One Little Word for 2014 is BRAVE and I am going to be brave enough to move to Tijuana and reunite my family!


  1. I agree, Oregon is such a beautiful state that it makes it that much harder when we have to leave it. Remember that it will always be there to welcome us back if you need to return, you're only a two day drive if your parents need you for anything, and YOU CAN DO THIS! I believe in you and I know you're brave too! <3

  2. ayiyi....I know how you feel, my husband and I were living in different countries for 6 years, I was living up in WA, near my parents who watched our son for me while I worked, and him in Leon, GTO. Its tough, I spent thousands like you said above visiting back and forth and calling every day. But, you can do it, it is hard but doable and the schools in Mexico are not bad. Me finding a job was the hardest part but I'm in Mexicali and the unemployment rate is way higher here than over the border from TJ:)