Esta es mi ciudad. (This is my city)

“…esta es mi ciudad, [Guerrero] ya se quedo atras. Parece que el tiempo pasa y mi otra vida quedo lejos…Y si esta es mi ciudad, [entonces es] cuna de mis suenos”
Mi Ciudad, La Quinta Estacion

I come from a small town in Guerrero, Mexico. It is surrounded by enormous green mountains and you can always be sure you are breathing fresh air. It is one of those towns where people know almost everything about you; where there is no violence, and anyone can feel safe.
There are no words to describe the transformation of going from a small town to one of the largest cities in the world, nor are there words for the colossal changes this move brought to my life. What I do know is that no one else has had the same experiences I have had during these past five years. Yes, five years have already passed and I never thought I was going to make it these far.

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My mom brought me to the United States at the age of twelve. July 16, 2005 was “the big day.” My mother believed and still believes that the United States holds more opportunities for my brother and me, but I did not want to come here. I was frightened because I was being pushed up against everything that was unknown to me. Although my mother is right about the opportunities and the better quality of life here, living in New York City is like visiting a planet inhabited by strange aliens. There were no green mountains anymore. I was not sure if the air I breathed was fresh. The incessant noise of the ambulances, police, and fire truck sirens was constantly disturbing. I remember how wet my pillows would become due to the tears I cried every night because I could not stand living in this strange city.

During the first year, I did go to school every day, but I did not go out to have fun. I did not read or write. I did not watch TV. I did not do anything. I guess the fact that I did not know English was the major reason for my loneliness. I learned new words during this year though: racism and discrimination. I didn’t learn them because of my history class; I learned them through my experience.
Unfortunately, the person who taught me these words was a girl. She simply walked up to my table and started saying unknown words (I do not remember what those words were, and I do not want to). She grabbed my milk and did not even drink it. Then the worst event happened: she spit directly in my face. But would I let myself feel down just because of an ignorant girl spitting in my face? I would not. I felt my hot blood going up to the top of my head. I stood up from the lunch table, grabbed a napkin, cleaned myself and sat down. I was not going to go down to her level of ignorance and stupidity.
I graduated from middle school and went on to high school. I thought the story was going to be repeated, but luckily for me it was not. These past three years in high school have been the best years of my life. My English has improved, I have many good friends, and I am doing well in all of my classes. Nevertheless, there have been several challenges as well. I work in a Laundromat and I am doing very well on the job. However sometimes, some customers get angry and say nasty things to me when I do not understand them. But I always try to solve the problem by staying calm and not shouting back. I know better than them—I speak two languages, they do not.
Now, I am the first one in my family planning to go to college and it is quite scary. However, since my mother believes that the United States offers me more opportunities, then I will take advantage of them.
If I had stayed in Mexico, I would have probably stayed the same quiet and inexperienced kid. Coming to New York has taught me how hard life is. And even though I resent the isolation I endured during the first year, I know that my mom was right in bringing me here.
I still believe that New York is like a planet inhabited by strange aliens. But this is my city now. Mexico stayed behind, as the opening quote states. My other life is far away in my past. If New York is my city, then it is now the birthplace of all my dreams.

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