Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hoo Am I: The Answers

Well I feel silly. Here I named my blog What Am I Doing in Mexico?, but I neglected to answer the question. The most popular question in yesterday's comments was just that, what am I doing here? I've blathered on and on about the food, the bugs, the police - yet I never fully explained how we ended up here.

But first, the other questions and answers, plus a bonus for the most flattering question. :) And let me just say, you guys don't mess around!

Colbymarshall said... What is your favorite Disney movie and why?

My first thought was The Little Mermaid, so I'll go with that. I love the songs, plus the idea of a woman reaching for her dreams even if it means a sacrifice on her end reminds me of my own situation. (which I JUST realized as I was typing this.)

Turkey Lurkey said... What food are you looking forward to eating when you go back home this week?

I've been most looking forward to a steak and didn't find out until last night that I'm getting one tomorrow! We're having some family over for dinner and my dad is grilling.

Also, I'm having Olive Garden on Friday, a ballpark frank loaded with grilled onions next Friday at the White Sox v Tigers game, and then a BBQ at my friends house with REAL hamburgers! Yum.

Oh, and I'll probably squeeze in a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup or twelve.

AC said... I'd like to know your family's initial reaction regarding the relationship. Not just because he is Mexican (they probably didn't have a problem with that), but the overall package. Someone who: at the time, was undocumented; had limited education (in terms of schooling); had limited funds and limited prospects.... How did they reconcile your decision with unapproving whispers?

They were surprisingly understanding. I've always dated foreigners so we passed that bridge when I was in high school, but the immigration issue was a new one. They have supported us all along - even paid for our legal fees - but have made it clear they will only do that if we follow the letter of the law now. Fair enough.

As for the education, my father left school early to join the Navy, then went back later; another thing they understand. Plus Ibis didn't drop out, per se - his family couldn't afford to pay for his school. As for his prospects, we were making the same amount of money before moving here, plus he had more assets than me. :)

Robin said... Did you or Ibis dive off of that cliff like they did in the Elvis movie "Fun In Acapulco" when you were there?

That would be a NO. But we did watch the professionals do it. I'd love to go back and see them at night because rumor has it they turn off the spotlights and dive with torches.

Erica Orloff said... What is your favorite Mexican dish? What do you miss most about the US, aside from family?

That's a close call, but I'd have to say molé rojo. Mmmmm.

Obviously I miss my friends and family the most, but I'd say we miss our basic way of life. Not the shopping, or Starbucks... but being able to be surrounded with other like people. People with similar interests (movies, dancing, politics, to name a few). We were just discussing the other night what we do to stay mentally stimulated here, and it's very difficult.

Stephen Parrish said... Is it just me, or are the two of you simply gorgeous?

Since that was the only sentence with a question mark, I'm guessing that's your question? lol. I'll say no, but thank you. As to your other comment, it's in the works.

Nadine said... My question would be - if you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live? Second question: what is your favorite book?

Right now I'd say Chicago, but I've always wanted to live in Spain. I minored in Spanish in college and studied the country quite a bit, plus I adore tapas. I've never been to Europe so this is purely off what I know if it, but yes, Spain.

I hate these types of questions, I can never pick a favorite anything. I'll say Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It spoke to me during a difficult time and I admire the way she pulled herself through her own rough period.

Janna Qualman said... Taking into account where you've lived before and your current situation, where would you live in the future? And a fresh question... How often do you worry for your personal safety in Zihua?

I'll twist this into what we'll do if we can't return to the US: we plan to move to Vancouver. It's another place neither of us have been, but between the weather, the location, the English, job opportunities, health care, it seems like something we'd like.

I don't worry about my safety very often, mostly because I spend a lot of time at home. I lived in Chicago for nine years so my sense of awareness is very high. I know ways to avoid being a rape victim, I know basic self-defense, I avoid scary alleys... If I let myself dwell on it I'd have panic attacks - I chose to get through my day.

Allen said... It seems to me that you've had the opportunity to experience what Ibis experienced when coming to the US when you moved to Mexico. Do you think that having a similar experience has given the two of you a new and better insight into the other?

It certainly has for me. He has very high standards for me; he always says I'm "so smart" that he doesn't want to accept that I can't do something. So when I have trouble with Spanish - the latest is me not wanting to call the cable company because they don't speak English - I have to remind him how hard it was when he first moved to the US.

btw, he kept insisting it was easy with the cable (we pay over the phone) but he didn't tell me there were package options, so now we have the lower version and don't have CNN, etc. That'll teach him. ;)

Spyscribbler said... I was curious about the story, when you left the States to follow Ibis. Was he deported? Did you follow right away? And leaving your job, your country, that's such a HUGE change! I think that's so brave. And romantic. :-)

Aaroncrocco said... I'm curious to know how exactly you ended up in Mexico. It seems like it would be an interesting tale. I guess I would tack on the question of do you ever plan on returning to the US?

Robin said... I'm being a major copycat and stealing from Spy and Aaron. How did you end up in Mexico? Will you guys ever come back to the States?

*deep breath*

Ok, here goes. Six months before we were married, Ibis' mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He hadn't seen her in 12 years because he was in the US "sans papers," but knew he wouldn't let her die without seeing her. That year her health went up and down (this was the same time immigration took a front page nationally), we got married, and thought with the potential new immigration laws we'd get to stay. Three days after Christmas we got the call she was on her deathbed and we flew to Mexico, knowing he couldn't return.

He's been here ever since. I returned to Chicago for two months to shut down our lives there and start the process to get him back. My dad and I drove here in March '07, and Ibis and I lived with his family for three months in Lazaro Cardenas before moving to Zihuatanejo. Picture no running water, sharing a twin bed in a room with no door, and no one speaking English.

I'm here on a tourist visa so I can't legally work. We live off his salary as a hotel receptionist, plus any freelance I can find from the US.

We had his first immigration meeting last March (there are several posts that week about the trip), then he returned in April for the follow-up (link). Our lawyer thought our case was the strongest she'd seen, but we were told they need another 8-10 months to make a decision. That should come this winter, so for now, we wait.

We want nothing more than to return to Chicago. I don't want to say we hate it here, but we don't love it. An example: as I was writing this paragraph the power went out for half an hour. There's no storm, the sun is out, I can't see a reason for it, but that's how Mexico is sometimes. We want to move on with our lives but don't want to do it here. Sure, it's beautiful and people retire here all the time, but we were happy in Chicago and didn't want to leave. We aren't ready to "retire."

One note about his status. A lot of people assume that because we got married, he magically becomes a resident, but that's not always the case. If a person had a valid visa but it expired, then they got married, that scenario would be true. However, if a person never had a visa to begin with, the US government does not reward you with residency just because you get married. That is our scenario.

I think that about explains it. As I'm sure you've picked up over the course of my posts, my family has been beyond supportive. I'm sure they had other hopes for me, but they haven't turned away just because my life has taken a different path.


Thanks for the great questions!


Turkey Lurkey said...

Wow! No wonder you wrote a book about it! I hope you have a wonderful time in Chicago! Enjoy your steak!


Robin said...

(Robin #2) Very interesting story. 99% of all Americans, including me, have no idea how immigration laws work. I know things will work out for you two if you keep the faith. But, in the meantime, stay safe.

Sara Spock said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us :-) Have a blast on your trip!

Janna Qualman said...

And I say enjoy the Olive Garden. Yum!

Absolutely. Definitely a story worth telling. Thanks for sharing.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks everyone. I nearly threw my computer out the window when the power went out & I thought I lost this, but autosave is a wonderful thing. :)

Travis Erwin said...

Great stuff here. I missed the call for questions but after reading all the answers here I don't think I could have come up with anything else anyway. I might steal this idea and do it on my blog sometime in the future.

spyscribbler said...

Thanks for the great answers! I've really got my fingers crossed for you two.

And, gotta tell you, you both ARE gorgeous. I haven't even read it yet, but I will be so mad if your memoir doesn't get published.

Melanie Avila said...

Travis, word on the street is it's already circulating, so steal away.

Spy, lol. :)

ac said...

Great stuff!

"As for his prospects, we were making the same amount of money before moving here, plus he had more assets than me. :)"

Yes, yes. That makes sense. I forget you are in your twenties. I'm thinking you were an old woman like me (thirties) when you met him.

Robin said...

Melanie, that was the most satisfying blog I've ever read! I need a cigarette!

And, Robin, I hate you being Robin #2. I feel guilty. Plus I refuse to ever say I'm Robin #1. Gross. I'll think of a pseudonym. What about "Rockin' Robin"? Fat Robin? Short Robin? Philly Robin? Reading Robin? Robin #142?

ac said...

"my family has been beyond supportive. I'm sure they had other hopes for me, but they haven't turned away just because my life has taken a different path."

Sounds as though you have a terrific family.

Lucky you.

WendyCinNYC said...

Thanks for answering, Melanie. Interesting story.

Amy Mullis said...

Have a wonderful trip and eat to excess! And be careful!

Robin said...

Robin #1, "Fat Robin" fits me perfect (check out my beach pics on my blog.)

Anonymous said...

Melnaie, thanks so much for sharing! I wish you two the best in trying to get back to Chi-town!

Melanie Avila said...

AC, we're actually both in our thirties...

Melanie Avila said...

Robin (Rockin' sounds fun) - you CRACK me up! OMG. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Other Robin (I will not refer to you as Fat Robin) - you too. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, Amy, & Aaron - thanks!

Lauren said...

I'm way late on the uptake for this thread, but better late than never. :-P A co-worker had a similar problem with his wife from Guatemala.

It took about 10 months, but everything turned out okay (it was this year). Best of luck to you guys!

Melanie Avila said...

Hey Lauren, better late than never. Thanks for mentioning your co-worker - any good news is appreciated. :)