Have you missed me mentioning how much I love my parents or how overwhelmingly grateful I am for both of them? I do it frequently – how can you have missed it?
You know, when I see others mention how they have wonderful parents and how much they appreciate them, I want to stop and say, “Okay, but you do not understand. You do not know how much more my parents have done not only for my brother and me, but for our cousins and even folks we are not related to. You do not comprehend how being parents encompassed the entirety of their beings and how loving us unconditionally came so naturally to them. There is no way you get it. That even though my brother and I are now 33 and 31, even though we are not perfect, even though my parents are not as able as they once were, they would both drop all else and run to our sides if either my brother or I asked them to. That is how amazing they are at their role as parents. Really.” That’s what I would say.
I thought of my parents today, which is why I am writing, of course. I was standing out at the bus stop, and a older Hispanic woman who had already been waiting there when I arrived turned to me.
“¿Hablas español?” she asked.
I replied that I did and she proceeded to take several DART maps out from her bag. With a soft and sweet voice, one that reminded me of my grandmother, she asked if the bus we were waiting for would take her to Addison. I told her that it would, but informed her that it would first head away from Addison, then loop and head back. It would take a while. She did not seem to mind and continued to wait there with me.
She explained that she had only recently moved to the apartment complex across the road and was not yet familiar with the bus routes in the area. There were complaints about how much these differ from those in the city. I have to agree. In the heart of Dallas, they run so much more often, seven days a week. Here, after the morning rush, they only run every hour or so and some do not run at all midday, nor on weekends. Freaking suburbs, ruining lives and such.
Anyway, our bus soon arrived and she grabbed a seat in the front while I headed towards the back. Other riders reached their destinations before I did and eventually, shortly before reaching my stop, she and I were the only ones still on the bus. She noticed the beep and announcement when I requested to be let off, turned to me, and asked me to explain to the driver that she was riding back to Addison. I did. The look of relief and indebtedness on her face melted my heart. I wished her luck and a wonderful day before I disembarked. I was happy.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for having made it your business to guarantee that I learn to read, write, and speak Spanish. Moments like the one I experienced this morning, that warm feeling in my gut, the sense of pride, the content smile on my face – they were all made possible because of you. Every time a person needing someone to translate asks if I speak Spanish, I am overcome by joy knowing that I will be making his or her day a bit easier, if only for a brief period, and I owe it you two. Thank you thank you thank you.
Now. I am taking this post in a different direction. Specifically, a direction aimed at anyone who complains about immigrants not assimilating to life in America, immigrants who “refuse” to learn the tongue of the land.
Fuck you very much.
Do you really think that immigrants are unaware that learning English is in their best interest? Do you honestly believe that they don’t know that speaking the language might help their chances of success in this nation? Do you, you who must be so damn brilliant, truly figure that they simply do not want to learn it?
Of course they want to learn. Believe me. They know they could do much more with their lives here if they master the beast that is the English language. Many try. I have seen it. My own parents, my oh-so-amazing Mom and Dad, they tried and succeeded. Many others, including members of my own family, they have tried and failed. It happens.
Have you ever attempted to learn a new language? If you have a high school diploma from the States, I would imagine that you have. How did it go? Did you have class several times a week for several months throughout a couple years or so? Did you pass with flying colors? Are you fluent in that language now? Were you working around the clock to feed your family, the family you just uprooted from its native home and brought to a foreign land? Were you scared? Were you hungry? Were you missing the home you grew up in, the places your heart was familiar with, the land where people understood you when you spoke? Were you degraded by people who wished for you to go away? Were all these factors preventing YOU from kicking ass in that class and conquering that unfamiliar dialect? Huh?
Learning a new language is difficult enough. Doing so when you are merely trying to survive is that much more challenging. You get that, right? They cannot simply go to some magical English school every damn day until they’ve got it. I will tell you something else: I myself still have trouble with the English language, and I was born here. I have lived here my entire life. Yet there are many idioms I do not understand, many terms I am unfamiliar with, words that I still have trouble pronouncing. Eh. I do the best I can. Guess what – most people do!
Ugh, I apologize for calling you idiots earlier. Can I instead implore you to have some compassion? Can you have a heart? Can you be just an itsy bitsy tiny bit more understanding? Please? You can totally do it. As my Mexicans would say, “Sí se puede.”
Y’all. I love my parents.
I love being fluent in Spanish.
I love being Mexican.
I love living in Dallas.
I love Texas.
I love “American” football.
I love Oxford commas.
I love helping others.
I love outcasts.
I love people.
Just be cool. And although they suck this year, go Cowboys.