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When I was in fourth grade, I was put into English-Only Classes. I had barely come from Mexico to the United States only a year before and I was definitely not ready to be immersed in the language. The teacher did not speak any Spanish whatsoever and if I wanted to communicate with her I had to wait for one of my classmates to maybe try to translate. I remember she would make us copy words out of the dictionary and I hated her for it. I begged my mom to switch me out of that class. I feigned being sick so that I would not have to go to school. I would purposefully miss the bus, and I would delay getting to class as much as possible.

I think at that time I felt incompetent and stupid for not being able to understand. I could not get the math, when I had always been able to get it. In Mexico, the students are much more advanced in Mathematics than in the United States, so I came to class already knowing all the basic math skills, when students in class were barely learning how to divide, but this did not help at all. I would still have trouble with tests, and following instructions.

It was not that I did not want to learn English; it is that I felt stupid for not knowing it already. I mean if they had put me in that class, did they not think I was ready enough? This started to manifest itself in my physical health also. In class, I remember always having giant headaches that would pulsate all through my head disabling my ability to think. I would also literally have nervous break downs in which I would just break down and cry for absolutely no reason. The teacher would not know what to do so they would send me away from class. In the mornings before I got to class, I would throw up and sometimes I had the smell of that with me throughout the whole day. It was a horrible year, and its a horrible memory to have.

To top it off I did not make friends easily. My inability to speak English in a way made that hard and kids that did know how to speak Spanish were not quick to gravitate towards me. I think they had their own problems to deal with. I was also unaware of the latest trends in clothing; not that it would matter because my parents did not have that much money to buy me things and so I was left to wear hand me downs from my aunt. I wore awfully tight pants and button down shirts that resembled man’s polos. But I did not complain. I did not want my parents to worry. Their life had also been changed dramatically and they were also unable to speak English and so they could not help me.

I just reverted to having memories about my friends that I had left in Mexico. The beautiful people that were over there waiting for me to come back. I remember having vivid dreams about arriving in a car and seeing the church that was the center of my little town, and then being so upset when I woke up to realize that it was all a dream. Those dreams did eventually begin to fade away along with my memories of home.

Sometimes I do remember the neighborhood kickball games that we would have. The adults would block the street with their cars and sometimes they would even join us. That was so much fun. Or I remember the times we went out to the ranch. My parents would take friends and food and we would spend days over there next to the campfire. Sometimes there was water around and my parents would let us get wet and muddied up. When I remember that time, I do not remember tears or pain although I am sure there were some. I just remember tranquility.

That was quickly taken away from me. I associate moving to the United States with losing my childhood. I no longer had any friends. It took me until I was in seventh grade (four years later) to find a true friend. My parents were distrustful of the world in the United States so they would no longer let me play outside. We no longer took family trips anywhere because my dad had to work to sustain us.
I honestly cannot remember growing up here. I do not know where the time went or what I did. I do know that when I went away to college. The memories of isolation came back clearly, but that time I was prepared to deal with them. Finally, I had awoken and I was no longer numb. I took the isolation in and I dealt with the pain and then I made friends and realize that I had become a worthy person. And now I look at the world I appreciate it and enjoy it. I am finally awake.

when i finally woke up
i had missed my childhood
except for the lakes of water
and mud baths
in the hazy remanents of memory

when i finally woke up
i found myself in a woman’s body
naive and unsure
with an awkward confidence
and a scared voice

when i finally woke up
i took a look around me
aware that it was not a waste of time
but disappointed because
of lost dates, broken dolls,
and missing tears.

when i finally woke up
the sudden urgency of time
engulfed me, the recollections
escaped me, and the future glared.


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