Tuesday, July 05, 2011

il mio panino al prosciutto e formaggio

I go 6 months without posting and now I do two posts in two days. This isn't likely to be a regular occurrence, but the holiday weekend gave me some time to ponder and write.

This weekend the New York Daily News published an article about three wonderful bloggers I've come to know well through our shared struggle in balancing immigration and international relocation for the sake of a marriage: Emily Cruz (The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez), Giselle Stern Hernandez (The Deportee's Wife) and Cheryl Arredondo (Us, After America).

The moment the article went online, the comments section predictably filled with the usual hate and ignorance that you see any time one of our stories is published. I became well-acquainted with this rhetoric one year ago when my family's story published in the Chicago Tribune. The best advice is to not even bother reading the comments section, and I normally follow that advice because truly, nothing healthy or productive can come of doing so. And I haven't read the comments on this weekend's article, but I'll take everyone else's word for it that this one offered an even more ridiculous spread than the usual, including the allegation that the US citizen wives of inadmissible foreigners are too pathetic to find an American guy and desperate enough to marry anything that comes their way, even a "ham sandwich".

After Emily crafted a great response to these comments, "25 Things I Love About My Ham Sandwich", Corin at Corin in Exile suggested that more of us follow Emily's lead and post about why our spouses are worth every drastic decision we've made. So here we go -- here are my reasons why Carlos is worth every day of agony, every tear, every expensive flight, and every life-altering decision:

  1. For one of our very first dates, he brought over a copy of La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) which we watched in Italian, and through which he introduced me to the magic of Roberto Benigni movies. Later he introduced me to Johnny Stecchino, which has got to be the world's most hilarious, under-recognized film ever.

  2. For the entirety of our 4-year dating relationship, he drove 40 minutes in each direction at least once a week so we could see each other. A lesser man would have balked at the vehicle mileage resulting from this relationship.

  3. Despite the fact that I spent the majority of pregnancy in a separate country from him, he did all he could to make me comfortable when I was with him. He remembered the horrible morning sickness I experienced during my first trimester, and when I went to visit in my 4th month or so, I discovered the fridge loaded with ginger ale that he had searched far and wide to find in Monterrey.

  4. One summer, I was enjoying a fabulous internship with the Chicago Public Schools. It was only partly a teaching practicum, and mostly it involved a concerted recruiting effort to sell the awesome city of Chicago to a bunch of future teachers. While I was busy making new friends, exploring new places, and having a general good time, Carlos was working a grueling night-shift job while he saved some money to pay off his car and build the bank account that would carry us through our first year of marriage. Yet he still came to visit me and go out during his free days, even though he was visibly exhausted.

  5. He thought nothing of jumping on the Blue Line with me and heading to the Desi corridor on Devon Avenue for whatever Indian or Pakistani food struck our fancy.

  6. He joined me in developing a love for Joy Yee's, both the Chinatown and Naperville locations. And Pompei restaurant, both the Little Italy and Oakbrook Terrace locations.

  7. He proposed to me over cappuccino at Pompei in Oakbrook Terrace. He knew exactly what I would like: simple, laid back, genuine.

  8. He knows my tastes in fashion and jewelry. My engagement/wedding ring is a sapphire surrounded by tiny diamonds and it's perfect. The Princess Diana/Kate Middleton ring but after/before it was a fad.

  9. He can go to the mercadito and walk out with two pairs of dress pants, a pair of running shoes, and a still-unworn Givenchy shirt for less than $20 US. He has an impeccable sense of both style and a bargain.

  10. When I took Lucas to Mexico for the first time, Carlos did not waste a moment, and immediately strapped our son into the Baby Björn carrier to take him for a walk. During any subsequent visit, he steps right in and takes the role of Lucas' father as if there hadn't been months of international separation in between.

  11. He can jump right into a new activity or job, learn it quickly, and rapidly start to excel in it.

  12. In the later years of dating and the beginning of our marriage, Carlos endured weeks on end where we were physically in the same room but rarely had a chance to even talk due to the demanding lesson plans, grading, and class prep that my new career in teaching required. Even knowing that this could be our reality for a long time if I remained a teacher, he stayed with me!

  13. He learned how to drive on snowy, icy, icky Chicago streets, and it never bothered him.

  14. Carlos still remembers fondly some of the funny moments he spent with my extended family here in Chicago and he used to drive all the way out for endless family gatherings, even though gatherings of this frequency were not a familiar concept for him.

  15. He loves geography and can easily identify more countries, cities, and languages on the planet than I can.

  16. He mastered the English language so well that he teaches ME about a lot of its features now.

  17. Whenever we travel somewhere new, he not only can quickly pick up the daily essentials in the language, but he immediately gains a sense of colloquial terms, accents, intonation, and expressions.

  18. My nerdy side does not bother him, and he kindly joins me in watching Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Futurama. And then proceeds to join me in discussing various aspects of these films/shows.

  19. He cooks together with me. And is much more inventive than I am with flavors and ingredients.

  20. He is great with technology. He solves computer problems by scouring the internet until he finds a solution. He knows what he's talking about.

  21. He cares for his dogs in a way that most people in Mexico don't. He recognizes them as much more than a security device for the house; to him they are companions, and he is always aware of their needs and well-being.

  22. He is a patient and respectful English teacher even when his students struggle mightily and have been written off as hopeless by other teachers. He is inventive and constantly finds new ways to make the English language accessible to his students.

  23. Despite the fact that we have gone as many as 11 months without seeing each other in these challenging years after our marriage, and despite the fact that opportunities to be unfaithful present themselves all the time, he does not give up, and continues to steadfastly await our future together.

  24. He supports my dreams, even if he feels we're too old to dream. He is willing to make any changes, no matter how drastic, to accomplish them.

  25. He will move anywhere to ensure our family's ultimate happiness, even if it entails a completely foreign language and culture that we've never been exposed to before.

So in summary, I did not wind up with Carlos because he was the only guy who would go out with me/respect me/care for me/whatever. That was not even remotely the case. I wound up with Carlos because he does all that but he also fascinates me, challenges me, supports me, and expands my world. I married him because nothing could be more amazing than building a future together. It's not necessarily because he's Mexican, although that part of his heritage does have an effect on who he is. If any typical American citizen met the above description, I could have married him. But the one who fell into my world was Carlos, and I am grateful to be his wife.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!

Renee said...

Beautiful post! I think it's pretty awesome that throughout this unwanted separation, your love for one another has become even stronger. You are an amazingly positive person and I'm so glad to hear your family will be together in the near future!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! LosG, you made me cry! Hate is powered by fear and I am very hopeful that one day this will change. People have fallen prey to this because of lack of information. Thank you for always sharing your feelings, information, and experiences. Much love your way to you and your family.

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