She told my brother and I about how our cousins’ dad was deported. They had to move to Mexico afterwards so they could live with their dad. Their mom took them out of school. One was in middle-school with the big kids and he never got to perform his play he was always practicing for. The other did not seem to like school, he was always quiet and never really played with anyone during recess. I would watch him from afar in the playground. I was a lot like him. Always alone, and never talked. When our cousins came to visit us from Mexico, they would tell us about how you have to learn to fight because all the kids want to fight you because we’re gringos. Over there everyone fights.
She also told my brother and I about how they wanted to deport her sister. How everyone in the family is scared. I wondered why now they talk about lawyers and why the police wants to deport her. She told us my aunt crossed the border through the desert. She tells us about how everyone in our family crossed the border through the desert, how bad it can be, how it is the worst thing in the world, how people die, how she was pregnant with me when it was her turn, how she wanted me to be an American, how my dad wanted me to be born in Mexico, how she had to disobey him.
A few months later, she told my brother and I about how she is trying to become a permanent resident. My dad is a legal resident now so he can help her. She says that she will pray that they don’t try to deport her. I and my brother become worried. Are we going to have to go to Mexico like our cousins and fight with all the kids? She told us not to worry, she is getting a lawyer that will help her.
Sometime later, she told my brother and I that we get to skip school. The whole family is going to San Francisco. The lawyer and the judge are going to be there. She told me to take my terrific kid award the school gave me for being a good student. It will help convince the judge to let her stay in the United States. I and my brother are worried. For some reason, this made me think that all the responsibility rests on my shoulders. She says with her motherly tone, “todo va estar bien, Benny”. We finally get to San Francisco and by God it is amazing. I have never been to a city. There are a lot of people in San Francisco. There is a lot of people jogging, and I have never seen the ocean so close. This is our first vacation. I love San Francisco. My brother and I ask my dad if we can move here please. He told us maybe when we’re older.
We walked to a building that looked like an arrow pointing to the sky. We thought the elevator must be huge, and I and my brother love elevators. We like to pretend we’re levitating. When we jump, time lapses and we take flight, we glide forever; there is joy in our faces because this is what we were always meant to do.
What I can remember is walking into a room with rows of seats like the ones in church. They are wooden and we sit behind my mom and the lawyer. The judge is facing all of us and there is a man in a suit on the other side of my mom and the lawyer. I sit down next to my brother with my terrific kid award in my hands as they begin tremble. Reality sinks in, and I hope that the judge is one of the nice ones. I am not sure if this will be enough. Panic-stricken, I remember not to cry because I don’t want to get my mom into trouble or make the judge angry. In church the wooden seats have cushions in the bottom where people kneel to pray. I don’t want the judge to see my face. If only these seats had the cushions, I could kneel like I do in church and sink my face into my hands and talk to God with my thoughts. The whole time I remember, trembling hands, and staring into my terrific kid award. The whole thing must’ve only lasted five minutes. Eventually I see my mom smile. She hugs the lawyer. The judge says congratulations. I get excited and think this must be good news! I ask my mom energetically, and she says she gets to stay. And this is what true joy feels like. The room is filled with beautiful transparent sparks and smiles galore. Silent tears river down my cheeks as mom squeezes her children. They never told me to show the judge my terrific kid award. I give it to my mom. She gives it to the judge. The judge’s mouth widens into a smile, and then the blond lady in the black robe and glasses says to me, “well, we do need more terrific kids”