The closer I get to the day I leave for Pachuca, the more I think about the person I thought I was going to be and the life I expected to live. Obviously, these perceptions and dreams evolve as we grow and change, and may not be truly the same from one day to the next–but that is not the same as drastic events which alter the entire path we believe we are meant to take. There are two events which have forced me down the other fork in the road. The first was my failed art history degree, and the second Sal being denied entry to the U.S.
Five years ago, my future looked different. At that time, I was single and studying art history, and I thought about the future a lot in order to escape the present pains and tedium. I was not at all satisfied with my life and I lived for what I would be–so long as I worked hard and stayed dedicated.
And what was I supposed to be? In my visions, I was an art history professor, living in Chicago, who spent the weekends exploring the city and strolling through museums. I could see myself grading papers in my small, cramped apartment, but I could feel my happiness for being independent and for being part of this bustling metropolis. There would be a significant other when the time was right, but marriage was never part of the dreams–no white dress, no wedding, no big party. This future was different, exciting, full of hope and possibilities.
They were silly, romanticized notions of what life would be like and what it would feel like to live that life. The feelings I would take from this phantom future were absolutely addictive; I needed them to feel better about my struggling friendships, my closet sized dorm room, and the isolation of living on a suitcase campus in suburban Missouri. My life was boring and predictable at best, and I longed for the day I could jump into the new and the unknown.
All of those visions, all of those dreams, were wiped clean when I failed my art history senior seminar–a studio art course with me as a non artist. Just like that, everything that motivated me in life was nothing more than ruins, and I was crumbling right along with it.
Within two months of the great collapse, I was rebuilding my life. I was no longer going to be an art history professor; instead, I was going to teach middle school language arts. My focus turned towards home and I decided that I would teach in the St. Louis area. Before my future ran unbridled once more, I met Salvador, and things changed yet again.
I began to see our life together, a mix of our two cultures and belief systems. Chicago was long out of the picture; instead, we planned to live with my parents by building onto the house, staying with them so that we could help take over managing the house and make their lives easier. I could see myself as a mother, my parents as grandparents, and our roots digging in deeper to where my roots have always been; my dream of being independent and exploring the unknown was countered by his love and belief in the importance of family.
We began the immigration process not long after we were married. The two of us were eager to get past the barriers to the starting point of the rest of our lives, and we did not fully understand just how impossible the process is or the toll it would take on us. When he was denied his waiver, I gave in to the fact that I had to once more let go of my ideas of my future.
I have been building, yet again. In the future I see now, I live in Pachuca–a relatively small but dense city. During the week, I teach; in the evenings, I cook then grade papers in small, cramped housing. On the weekends, there is a city for me to explore, museums to stroll through, and places to travel. I must learn a new language and reclaim my independence. Everything is new and unknown and exciting. My husband is there, to take the journey with me, and together we make our place.