27 September 2018
I placed the last folded shirt into the huge luggage on the floor, it was filled with all my clothes and personal items to take to college. I zipped the luggage and l glanced around my room, it felt empty, my closet had nothing but old clothes in it. My nightstand had nothing but my lamp and an alarm clock, seeing my room empty made me feel hollow. All my memories from when I was born were made in this house, from my first steps to my 18th birthday. The way that this house has made me feel and has changed me to the person I am. I have never moved away from Burke, Virginia. I was nervous but excited to go to college because I am the first one in my family to do so. I have been shy my entire life because my parents have sheltered me from the outside world. My mother would hear news about any disease, sickness, and crime she would immediately tell me to watch out and be safe: she made me afraid of the world. As I grew up, the same girls were allowed in my house, only if it was clean because my parents followed a traditional culture. I was allowed to go to my friend’s house only if my mother met the parents of my friend. Sleepovers were always a no, I was never allowed to even stay the night during a camping trip for girl scouts. My parents hovered over me, watched my every step at home, but Richmond is different from my house where I am given more freedom and liberty.
I began touring around my home and reminisce old memories, beginning at my grandmother’s room, she had pictures of Jesus and rosaries on her wall. I believed in everything I saw in her room, I believed in the church, the Bible, and God but I don’t agree with everything the religion stands for. My views changed throughout the years. I wouldn’t go to church and the years I would, it wasn’t my decision to go but it felt like a routine. The off and on again schedule of going to church, and not being able to completely understand what was being taught to me in the classes made me not connected to the church. I lived in a household where my grandma and mother believed strongly in religion but rarely practiced it in front of me, because of that I lost interest and belief in the religion.
Roaming around my grandmother’s room I see she has a fake Obama 100 dollar bill, it makes me laugh as I remember the reason she kept it was for good luck. Everyone in my household loves Obama, we’re all Democrats. All the adults in my family came to the country as immigrants, which incredibly influenced my political views. My family continued to support all decisions that were made towards gun-control, pro-choice, and immigrants being allowed into the country. We would often talk about these topics in the living room area, the comfortable area of the house where I was able to speak my mind and have a family debate on whatever topics would come up, allowing me to be more vocal and I was able to express my opinions easily.
The memory of my grandmother moving out reminisced in the air. When she moved out I stayed in her room for four months with my little brother sleeping next to me every night. My parents divorced during this time and my older brother moved out with my father. At home, it was only my mother, little brother, and I. It was sophomore year of high school when all of these events happened. I had to take care of my younger brother before and after school until my mother came home from work. Several responsibilities were given to me, making sure my brother was well fed, that he understood his homework, and went to every extra activity. I had no choice but to become more independent, and more mature. My little brother changed everything during this time: he motivated me. During this sophomore year I felt like I changed, I focused more on my studies and strived towards college, I thought differently.
Now that I have left my childhood home for college it feels different when I return. The memories flood in now and then. When I slept in my room after returning for a weekend I felt at peace but anxious, I am a huge part of my family system and I would soon be gone again. In a few hours, I would be back in my dorm with a fast food diet. My mother understands how hard it is for me to leave and not see my family for months, she had to leave Peru at the age of sixteen to live in a safer environment and be able to have a family. “Tell me How it Ends” written by Valeria Luiselli has connected to my life in several ways, my parents tried their hardest to come to America to provide the best life they could for themselves and us. “ Extreme violence, persecution, and coercion by gangs… It was not even the American Dream that they [immigrants] pursue, but rather the more modest aspiration to wake up from the nightmare into which they were born.” ( Luiselli 12-13) My mother’s dream was to come to the United States to bring a brighter future for us, to be able to grow up in an environment where we were safe. My mother’s dream was passed down to me because she did not have the opportunities that I have. My mother was unable to obtain a college degree and graduate from high school due to immigration status and had to take other routes to provide for my family. Her journey to America was dangerous like Luiselli explained in her interviews, my mother went through people that could have killed or raped her on her way to America. The amount of sacrifices she has made to come to the United States for my family, to give us the life that has no violence and gangs has lead me to my dream to help my home county from suffering. My dream was to graduate high school, go to college, and earn my bachelors degree to help Southern American countries in the future as a nurse. My mother has openly talked about her journey to the country and is proud of what she has accomplished. Through her patriotism towards Peru, I have developed a love for my home country and I am proud of how far my family has come.
While I drive to Richmond with my family I feel the tension, I know the goodbyes are coming from everyone in my family. Tears flood my vision reminiscing about the memories made at my house in Burke. That small, red brick townhouse was where my identity was built, where I become who I am to this day. I know I will change coming to a new environment and that my identity will always change, but the tiny house will always be my place.
Luiselli, Valeria. Tell Me How It Ends: an Essay in Forty Questions. Coffee House Press, 2017.