The Journey We Take
By Odalis Mendez
All of our stories deserve to be heard, which is why I decided to share mine. This experience has been the motivation that pushes me to demonstrate to others, and myself, what I am capable of.
I have no memory of my journey. I hear countless stories about it, but not once can I recall the experience.
I always try to imagine how it all happened. To imagine the emotions my parents felt at the thought of me coming alone without them. My Papá left when I was only two months old and my Mamá soon followed eight months later. Me? My Abuela wouldn’t let my Mamá take me with her and her request was for me to stay with her for one year. No more, no less. From what I have heard, my Abuela loved me more than I can imagine. However, the only memories I have of her are those taken by the click of a camera. My Abuela was able to complete her promise before she passed away on that cold fall day of November 3rd. My Mamá tells me that this became the deciding factor in finally reuniting with me.
Some would feel shame at the thought of mentioning this. Maybe it isn’t because they are ashamed. Maybe it’s because of . . . fear. Fear of losing what they have now. Fear of being separated from their familia. Fear of not being able to have an educación. Fear of not being accepted by society. It sounds like we turn it into a big deal. The truth is that it is—at least to the ones who have gone through it. I like to think that this experience is something one should take pride in. It’s a journey not everybody can speak about. Many say it’s a risky journey towards la muerte. I say it’s a journey toward oportunidad.
I’ve been living as an immigrant in this country for almost my entire life. I came from Mexico when I was about two years old. My Mamá tells me that I arrived in Los Angeles and stayed there for about a month with my Tías, until we got tickets for our flight to New York. I am proud to say that the Bronx has been my hogar, regardless of how I arrived.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I speak for myself when I say that this journey was meant to happen to my familia and me. I was given the chance to excel and succeed. All my parents ever want for me is to do my best in school and find my passion. Yes, I did have obstacles growing up, but never obstacles that deprived me of being proud of who I am. It is obstacles I face today that let me know the reality I am a part of. However, I know that I am not alone, because there are so many wonderful personas I have met. Each and every one of them support me in whatever they can.
I can’t say that I took this journey alone, or that this journey has ended. It’s something meant for me to tell and to learn from, and it becomes a concept others want to learn about as well. In the end, it’s not the journey I take, he takes, or she takes—it becomes a journey we ALL take.
Odalis Mendez is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Bronx, NY.