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Everything I always had and believe is in the Dominican Republic.

By Yordanis Maldonado  |   From : Bronx, NY  |   School : MACS

Facing My Reality

I could not believe the pain I was causing without wanting to. The thought of my family being hurt was more hurtful for me. When I finally realized it was already time to leave, I could not do anything about it. My grandparents were sad but they were also happy for me. However, I could see the pain in their eyes. My grandparents started giving me everything I wanted, like preparing all my favorite foods. My
grandparents, with tears in their eyes, told me I could finally be with my mom. I also started crying–I could not stand seeing them so sad. The environment started to change. My family that I never met before
started to come visit me. My mother and I were not that close, due to the fact that I never got to know her. My mom left me behind with my grandparents when I was two years old. My mother was away for eight
years from her country and daughter. I would not want to make her seem like the bad one, but why should I feel so welcoming towards her when I do not know her? In my eyes, my only real mother is my grandmother.

At times it was so hard because it was like I did not have anybody to cry to because I never wanted anybody to feel sorry for me. On second thought, I just did not want anybody to think I was being ungrateful since everyone said I should feel lucky that I now had the opportunity to come here. I mean, what was so special about New York? Everyone in the Dominican Republic is always talking about how much they wish they were living in America, but I sure did not see anything amazing about it. I guess I still see New York as just a lonely and cold place without my family. I was not really excited but my mind was starting to accept the idea.

When I turned nine, my mom sent my grandparents money and stuff from the United States like candy and toys so she could throw me the biggest party. I can still remember all the candy and beautiful stuff she
sent. I still remember how beautiful my hair looked and how I felt like the only princess. A few months after my birthday party my grandmother received a call from my mom saying that she was coming
to the Dominican Republic to get me. She also asked to speak with me and told me, “Mija ya te voy a buscar ya vienes para New York.” That means, “Daughter, I am going to get you. You are coming to New
York.” I still to this day remember how I felt like a lost fish. My world was starting to feel unreal. I remember I ran into my room and cried for hours in silence. I never allowed anyone to see me crying. I did not want to make anybody sad or cry because I was leaving.

The days passed and I began to hear stories about New York. Many of them were not that good and also a lot of them were not really true. One of my friends named Flor was saying how at school in the United States, kids take other kids’ lunches. She said they also beat you up if you stare at somebody for too long. I was so terrified. I was practically coming to a country that I had no idea about and I did not know the language. I began to wonder if I really had to come to New York. I was nine years old, almost ten. My childhood was in the Dominican Republic. My family was there, my friends were there, my memories were there.

Everything I always had and believe is in the Dominican Republic. If I think about it, I never have had anything in New York, all I ever had and will always have is my mother. I had a fear of seeing my mom for the first time. I was always scared that she would not like me. I never knew what it was to live with your own mother. Of course, my grandmother was and still is the best mother I could have ever had, but my birth mother was always in my dreams. I dreamed of the two of us being together and having a mother and daughter day. The days passed and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my grandparents. I was trying to eat all of my favorite foods before I left. I did not know how much time I would have to go without eating them. That was also a reason to be mad about leaving: leaving all
my favorite foods that I knew were not going to be in New York. Afriend of my grandmother’s told me that they did have some of the foods I liked, but they would not taste the same.

Life in the Dominican Republic is very different than life in New York. In the Dominican Republic, the weather is always hot but you can go to the pool or beach. Well, I was not going to be able to do this in New York because of the bad and cold weather that it has. Since I had a few months left, I began thinking about my father. My dad was and still is a very different story, not even closely similar to my
mom. Why? Yes, my mother was in another country, but my dad was in the same country as me. My dad even lived close to me, but chose to never come see me. I could not be selfish, I knew that he loved me, he
was just not doing what he was supposed to be doing. I really wanted to let him know that I was leaving, although he was never there, but I could never change the fact that he was my dad and I did love him. I
decided to tell him a few days after.

The only father figure I had my entire life was my grandfather. My grandfather was my whole world. He was my heart in human form. Between him and my grandmother he was the one who was always trying to give me everything–not saying that my grandmother did not. He has been my backbone, everything in my entire world moves around because of my true role model, dad, granddad, and friend–Macial Melo.

Finally the day came, the day I was waiting for my entire young life of meeting my beautiful mother. I still remember how that day I woke up so happy knowing that I was going to see my mom for the first time
ever. Since I had no memory of her, I started running all over my small town talking to people and telling them how I was going to see my mom. I was so excited that I could not eat the whole day. I did not even have a glass of water. I was happy but also very, very nervous. Every time I remember that day, I laugh so much because of the way my grandmother dressed me. Let me put it out there–my grandmother was
really good at everything, except doing my hair. I remember always getting laughed at for the funny hairstyle she always did to my hair.

At exactly 2:54 P.M., I left to the airport and got there at 3:40 P.M. My grandmother and I were at the airport waiting for my mom without seeing that she passed right in front of our eyes. My mom looked so beautiful with her lovely blonde hair and with my little brother right next to her. As soon as my grandmother began to realize it was my mom, her eyes got so red she could not stop crying. My mom walked to where we were standing and started hugging my grandmother and crying so hard. Then my mom grabbed me by my arm and held me tight and we both cried like two babies. I also met my little brother, who I had never seen or talked to before. He did not speak even one word in Spanish, so I could not really talk to him.

I went the whole ride to my house hugging my mom. My grandmother was still crying and saying how much she missed my mom and how I looked like my mother’s twin. My mom was extremely happy to see me,
she did not stop hugging me or kissing me. I, on the other hand, did not know what to say or what feel. I was very happy, but I also knew the time was so close for me to leave. My grandfather was calling us so
much because he did not go to the airport. It is kind of funny why he never goes to the airport. He always says he is not going to leave our house alone because someone might steal or break in, but that is just him because he is old (my papa bear is 75 now).

Once we arrived at the house, everyone from our town began to go to my house to see my mom and too meet my little brother. Everyone quickly started saying how I was a young picture of my mom. Since my
mom had gone a long time without being in the Dominican Republic, she wanted to go everywhere. I did go with her to some places, but I really wanted to be home with my two viejitos. To me, there was
nothing like being in my house in the Dominican Republic with my two viejitos, my two reasons for living.
After a few days my mom had to begin the process of getting the papers she needed to bring me to the United States. She had a couple of them, but she also needed my passport. The day that I had to go and get my passport, my dad had to be present because he had to sign some papers. That same day was the first time I saw my father crying for me. It was like the first time that he was really acting like he cared for me. Do not get me wrong, he was not a bad person. He just never knew and still does not know how to be a father to me. That exact moment that he started crying, I did not really know whether to believe him or not. I cannot really believe anybody’s tears when I do not know that person’s heart.

After my passport was done and in my hand, we had to go to “ el consulado “ so people could decide if I could come to the United States or not. I remember the day I went over to el consulado. Before I left, I
asked my grandmother to prepare my favorite food, “ensalada rusa.” My mom and everyone in my house woke up so early because we had to be there at 8:00 A.M. We spent the whole entire day sitting there waiting to be called when finally at 1:00 P.M. they called my mother and me up. They asked me, “Why do you want to go to the United States?” Of course, they asked in Spanish and I responded, “Because I want to be
close to my mother and go to school so I can become a professional in the future.” They also asked me, “Is anybody obligating you to go to the United states?” I responded, “No sir, nobody is obligating me to go the United States.” The men said, “I will ask you a last question. Do you really want to go the United States?” I took a minute to answer. I really just thought about my grandparents and with only pain in my heart I responded, “Yes sir, my wish is to go to the United States.” The man who asked me those questions asked for all the papers my mom had. He looked over them for a couple of minutes and said, “Well, Yordanis, felicidades. You are going to the United States.” My mom started hugging me and crying saying, “Finally baby, we will be a happy family.”

On my way home I thought about how my grandparents were going to take it. When my grandmother saw me, she smiled and acted like she was happy but she went inside the house and started crying. That really broke my heart into a million pieces. The next day was the day I never wanted to come – the day I was leaving my heart behind. I woke up that day crying. I did not eat anything at all, I was just crying and trying to stay strong for my two viejos. If they saw me crying, they were going to break down even more. My friends and family came over to my house to say goodbye. As soon as my dad arrived, it was time to leave. I said goodbye to everyone except my grandfather because I could not take it. My grandmother cried and hugged me so tight, not wanting to let me go and she said, “Tu sabe que yo siempre te voy a querer yorda.” Writing this last page makes me cry so much just to remember. The pain I felt was horrible. Coming to the United States changed my life because I know I have so many opportunities that I would not have in the Dominican Republic. One thing I know is that no matter where I am, my heart will always be with my viejos and I know one day we will be all together here. That is why I know pain is temporary.

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