.”..and I don’t know if I’ll be back again.”
It’s 12:17 am.
My flight leaves in the next 6 hours. It takes me an hour to get to the airport (traffic permitting). About the same to get through check-in, security, and head towards the gate.
My Mom always asks about weight limit for luggage. Seeing if I can squeeze another two pounds in my suitcase.
Una sueter para tu Tia. A sweater for your Aunt.
Una falda para tu Abuelita. A skirt for your Grandma.
A new toy for someone that just had a baby in the family. Don’t forget that each pile is for each family. She continues. I am lucky enough to fit an extra pair of shoes in my suitcase. She does this every time. If I am allowed to take three pieces of luggage, I’d take them full to the max, with a carry-on packed tight and personal bag. But all just two pounds below the weight limit. With all the restrictions there is to fly and each airline charging for luggage, I make it always two pounds below the weight limit. 1 suitcase per ticketed passenger and a small bag for carry-on.
All packed tightly.
Going to the mother country takes months of preparation. Figuring out dates, budgeting costs, meanwhile securing the best deal possible. Of course flights based on luggage allowances doesn’t hurt either. An extra cushion to bring something for someone you love. If the months prior of shopping for each family member hasn’t prepared us, its the extended family members as well. She does this without even flinching. If she had her last dollar on her and found something that reminded her of someone; she would buy it.
That’s my Mom. Always thinking of others.
Then you have the special requests. Various family members asking for items that are too expensive in their country but cheaper and easy to come by at home. Never giving you notice. Always when your bag is packed and you’re ready to go; that your whatsapp sends you an alert.
Hola, te puedo pedir un favor? Hello, can I ask you a favor?
Sometimes I want to throw my phone out the window. Why do you wait until 3 days before I leave? When you’ve known for months I was coming. But still, I always oblige. It’s what my Mom does. It’s what I have always been taught.
I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve been to Ross, Marshall’s, Target affiliate stores to prepare for this trip. Or the countless times we’ve been to the Segunda. Not including the countess times I’ve complained, begged, pleaded with my Mom to stop buying things. Nobody needs anything. They have more than enough. Remembering a Prima that just came back from the states and went on a fancy shopping excursion. Or mentioned about a family member that always cried about being broke, yet has money to vacation everywhere. I am always told to be quiet malagradecida, ungrateful.
It’s 12:37 am.
I’ve watched as she unpacks then repacks everything. Remembering a hidden shopping bag of items she had bought for my Abuelita. She’s had this suitcase packed the minute after I purchased my ticket. Confirming that it wasn’t as much stuff as last time. Tu Tia a ayudado mucho (Your Aunt has helped a lot), reassuring that every item had it’s reasons.
I am lucky if I could fit my own stuff in the suitcase. A pair of shoes, a book, something.
If it were up to me, I wouldn’t pack anything. Puros malagradecidos. No one ever says “Thank You” anymore. It’s as if they expect something every time the plane lands. Especially after the last time. Where everyone pointed a finger at my Mom, that she was the dramatic one. Too sensitive, too passionate, always wanting everything in her way. She’s been away for so long, she doesn’t understand how we do things here.
I remember thinking. You try living miles away from your mother. Not in another state where you’re just a bus or plane ride away. In another country, where you have to adapt to a new language and completely new customs. After the last time, I wondered what they think. Do we seem better off because we live in such a glamorous country? Because honestly, I don’t feel better off. Traveling back and forth isn’t easy with just a swipe of a credit card. Including when you have no money, including when you haven’t worked in a few months. But the glitz and glamour of gringolandia makes people believe otherwise.
I sit starting at the suitcase wondering if she remembers what I do. If that even matters to her. I harbor grudges. I become angry. If they only knew the things we have suffered here with no sense of family. If they only knew the things we have been through being miles away from people we could trust. But I am the ungrateful one? Malagradecida. I wish I could put everything back. Return everything. Get my Mom something she really deserves. Because she of all people deserves a suitcase full of everything she loves. Not them.
I remind my Mom about the many times our family members come to the states, without thinking twice about coming to visit. Using the pretext of shopping in bigger states, going to awesome theme parks, and how it’s just not easy for them to travel like its easy for us too.
How easy going to Vegas must be then the extra miles it would be to fly out to SFO. How silly of me an American to understand spending money in the most expensive country in the world.
My mom thinks of everyone. Even after they have yelled at her. After they have talked behind her back. After she spends a few days in silence after some new bullshit arises.
Remember this bag is for your Prima.
Don’t forget to tell your Abueilta, this sweater is for when she goes it temple..
I wish I had my mothers heart. Able to forgive people as easily as they have hurt you.
It’s 12:55 am.
I go over my flight itinerary, who’s going to pick me up, who I will hug first and what I am going to say when I see my family.
I know she’d rather go in my place. That I am in no position to be going anywhere with my current financial state. I should be home instead of boarding a plane and enjoying every moment being somewhere else.
I sit with anxiety and wonder what awaits me. Will I still be angry? Will I learn to forgive?
When I wake up I’ll forget everything. I will board the plane, sit in my assigned seat and watch the plane take off into the clouds toward Benito Juarez International. I’ll sit and fidget the 4 hours it takes to get there; wondering why I make this trip at all. I think about going back. Taking the trip back home and sitting in my miserable state.
It’s at that moment I wish my Mom came on this trip with me. How she would be sitting by the window, making her plan for the whole week. Going over ever last detail of the contents of the suitcase and how happy it will make everyone to see what they will receive. I think about how happy it makes her to see the people she cares about happy. How happy she was for me the minute I purchased my ticket; knowing I will be spending time with my Abuelita. It’s at that moment, I do feel like a malagradecida (ungrateful).
I shouldn’t be here. I need to stop being angry. I need to get over this feeling, just as my Mom does the moment she comes back home to the states. Because out of all the people in the world, she deserves to be going on this trip. She deserves to spend time with her Mami, my Abuelita. Not an ungrateful person that holds grudges such as myself.
I know the moment I land in Mexico, it will all be different. My attitude will change and my anxiety will lift away. The moment I see my Abuelita, every feeling I had will disappear. She deserves to be here where I stand, not me. But I promise to be grateful on this trip, just like she would want.
But I can’t help but wish she was here. Because she deserves to be here more than anyone. Not me.