Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reflections from Traveling: New York


Thing about traveling for me is that it has and always will be a privilege that snaps back at you like a rubber band. NY is a city I have always wanted to visit and the fact that I finally got to go and have a magnificent time there makes the sting of the snap that much more noticeable. A trip like this leads to a lot of reflecting in almost every aspect of my life and in the work I do within social justice. I don't feel guilty for taking this trip because I busted my ass to make it happen, but it also goes without saying that I'm fortunate enough to have a job that gives me paid vacation, something I still struggle to grasp. I have DACA, which makes traveling that much easier than in the past when I used my Mexican Passport, I can splurge on food or things knowing that I won't have to resort to exclusively eating cereal for the next few weeks, and that I have a home waiting for me when I get back. Every time I leave my neighborhood for a few days I come back appreciating it more so than before.

Out of everything that I experienced in this last trip, my latest realization came to me over diner, and it's that I'm at a point in my life in which 'undocumented' is now brought up in conversations as them and not I. I've noticed this at work, among friends, and in other spaces that have ties to social justice work. I've had DACA for more than three years now and I stopped being active in immigrant rights spaces far longer than that. It makes sense that the further I got from those kind of spaces, the less frequency the issue of my immigration status would come up. I suppose it's also a sign of the times as well in that being undocumented is still a critical issue in this country, there are those like me who are able to transcend that and carry on an average life style that completely overshadows my status as an immigrant.

I can call this specific situation a bunch of different things, but at the end of the day, I've shifted to a place where my immigration status doesn't hinder any aspects of my day to day life anymore. Obviously I can still lose my work permit, get deported, lose my job, my housing etc, but even those situations are a bit on the extreme end given the normalcy of my everyday routine. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a fear of having everything I've worked for taken away from me, but even then, I know I would be able to bounce back on my feet and carry on some how. This trip to NY helped me step back a bit and look from the outside in as to who and how I am.

My attention has been on other matters, so I never noticed this change and with good reason, its been a natural progression and growth of my identity. From being more responsible to my emotional and metal maturity, I'm the same person I've always been, just an improved version of the previous ones. Being quasi undocumented has also changed those dynamics for the better in that things got easier and more doors opened up. Growth and change are a funny business, but they're both experiences I've enjoyed basking in these last few years. Moving forward, I'll have to be mindful in how I talk about others who may be undocumented and/or immigrants because I don't want to get to a place in which I 'other' individuals who I share a unique experience with. No, that's not the kind of person I wanna be.

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