Written by Katerina Birge on August 10, 2014
Available In: Español
On the first day of July, my days of being a wanderer were officially declared over. Not only did I sign a lease but I signed a lease on an accessibility-friendly apartment. I made the decision to live without family or friends, a giant step for me. Why you might ask? For many people the answer is obvious: Of course you should have your own place. Aren’t you a little old to live with family or friends? While I fully agree with the above statements, the act of being able to pay rent by myself every month gives me a sense of pride and has given me back my independence.
I was born a wanderer at heart, an uncompromising dreamer. I lived almost 10 years on buses, in ugly rented rooms, going from city to city by surviving by eating barritas with a side of Diet Coke. I worked extremely hard and made little money but as my friend Mary Trini will occasionally sigh nostalgically, “it was the best time period of our lives.” However, as Cantinflas would say, “ahi esta el detalle: “best time period.”
For three years, due to various health problems, I had to return to the US and live with my family. Like many people of my generation can tell you, going back to your childhood home is not fun for anyone. Although I love my family, I don’t find watch telenovelas or going to Home Depot particularly entertaining. So I thought up a “solution”: Return to a simpler time and go back to Mexico.
Last Christmas, I returned to Mexico, the Mexico I miss, the country that saw me grow from a girl into woman. I was very excited to see my friends, former co-workers, family and old stomping grounds. Almost by instinct, I immediately got right back on the buses, dragging my suitcases behind me as I went from city to city. However, something was off but I didn’t know exactly what. The next day boldly gave me my answer.
A downpour had made the subdivision where I had previously lived into a mud slip and slide. As always, overestimating my physical capacities, I attempted to cross the improvised river like I had done dozens of times over. This time, however, was different. Before I knew it, I found myself in a pond face to face with a goat among other things. My ankle had given out. Noel, a man who is my honorary older brother, came to fish me out. Covered all over in mud and slightly beat up, my answer was all over my clothing: I could not continue with my dreams in Mexico.
Several weeks after returning home, I woke up to a note my dad left me: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” -Victor Frankl
Maybe it was the marathon of loud rapera music (Molotov, Calle 13, Mana) but not only was my frustration hurting me but my loved ones as well. Two weeks later, I found a no-frills job. Since then, I have found a new love in health care policy for the chronically ill. I have had the blessing to work on proposed laws on the state and federal level. In three weeks, I will finally be continuing my education.
Now I am almost finished with the move. Every now and then I see corny things my family gave me for my new journey like the Virgen de Guadalupe car freshener from my mom (yes, they do exist and no, I have no idea where she found it) and my dad’s sweater because he knows how cold I get.
Without a doubt, I could not achieve anything without the support and love of my extended family and close friends. Thanks to them, I finally realized that I have finished writing one chapter and can now write another one which will likely be entitled “Katia 2.0, now in titanium”.