15 August 2016

Border Life

Living on the edge of two nations that are so tightly related is the most interesting experience. Tijuana is so Americanized that it could hardly be called Mexico, and yet, when I pop into the US, people speak Spanish to me. I now have a job, a real CNA job that I love and hate all at the same time. I love it because I simply love what I do. I hate it because I don't relate to anyone with my cross-border lifestyle, and it's very difficult to make friends. This post is a glimpse into my cross-border life, and what makes it so darn difficult.

7:00ish AM- Leo wakes up. This wouldn't be so bad if he hadn't woken up 3-4 times throughout the night.

7:45ish AM- I finally get up, and begin checking what The Line is like. The line reigns supreme here in TJ, even for people who don't cross. If the line is slow and long, no one is going to get downtown or to Playas very quickly.

8:00-9:00 AM- This time period is filled with getting ready for work, which means eating breakfast, getting the kids all ready, heating up the hot water for showers, and me actually showering and dressing. I also have to pack my work bag- 1 gallon of water, a breast pump, milk storage bags, Cecilia's lunch box, and my wallet and phone charger.

9:00-10:00ish AM- Obsessively check Facebook posts about The Line. Depending on the reports of fellow Tijuanenses, I decide what time to leave home.

10:30ish AM - The average time we all load into the car and head to the line. Because it's summer and Cecilia has no school, we have been doing the Line as a family.

10:30 AM-12:30 PM- 2 hours is an average line time for us at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The kids get bored, Leo gets hot, Hector drives the line for most of the time. This is our family time. Right before I get to the gate, Hector and the kids all get out of the car. I take over driving and they go up to the pedestrian bridge that they will take to walk home. Hector tells me which caseta is moving the fastest and which line to get into.

12:30 PM- I get across into the US. I stop by a grocery store and buy my lunch for the day. Then I drive the 30-plus miles to the town where my job is located.

1:00-1:30 PM- I get to work. I don't start for another hour, but since Leo cannot drink any formula without getting sick, I have to pump. The only real place I get to pump unbothered is in my car. Go me.

2:00 PM- I clean up my pump and put the milk away in the employee fridge. I get ready to start my work day. The next time that I'll get to pump will be my lunch break.

10:30 PM- Get off work and drive the 30-plus miles home. Hopefully, Mexican customs doesn't "randomly" stop me.

11:00 PM- Get home from work. The kids should all be asleep. At least Leo should be. I change out of my scrubs and into my pajamas.

11:15-12 AM- I pump once more, just to make sure Leo will have enough milk for the next day. Since he is still so needy, it is extremely difficult to get time where he isn't attached to me on my days off to pump and build up a freezer stash.

12:30 AM- Go to bed and do it all the next day.

Sometimes, the line is super fast and I cross quickly, sometimes by 11:30. That means Hector is with the kids for 3 hours before I even start my shift. Sometimes, the line is very slow and I have to pump while in the line, and once it took 4 hours and I was late to work. I spend about 5 hours of quality awake time with my Leo a day, and most of it is spent sitting in a car or me rushing around him. He barely knows who I am except that I am his food source.

Is it worth it? Sometimes I don't know. I make decent money, enough for us to live humbly, but comfortably. But I am not living at home. I am living in my car, in a state of constant commuting. My patient's remark what I am "tired already?", and I explain that I've already had a full day even before starting my shift. Will I keep it up? Absolutely. While I may be lonely and missing my family, they will be clothes, housed, and fed. There is nothing more that I need than that. It's not that I want lots of money and that is why I work like I do and commute like I do. We have just enough, and it is finally nice to be able to be caught up.