When you travel, you meet people, and sometimes you get to hear their stories.
“I’m a strong woman.”, she said. “Oh yaa, I am a strong woman.” She searches for words to express herself. Her English is not very good. It’s broken and sometimes grammatically wrong, but she is voluble. “I had my first child when I was 14.”, she says. “Ahh haan. I was only fourteen. And only one month after she was born, I was pregnant again. One month after the second child was born, I was pregnant with the next one. Five!! I had 5 children like that. One, and then another one, and then another one.” She circles with her hand to gesture repetition and nods for effect. “I have been through a lot in life.” She shakes her head. “I married 3 times.” She nods her head and raises 3 fingers. ” Ohhh yaa, three times!! My first husband, I was married to him for 7 years. Then I divorced him. I was only 14 when I ran away from home with him. He used to live down the street. He was 21 years old.” More head shaking. ” I was 14 and he was 21. That time all I wanted was to get away from home. To be free. I lived with my step-mother. I wanted to get away. My father, he never showed us any love.He never say, I love you.. no..”, she gestures with a wave. “..nothing. He never say nothing loving to us. My sister left home when she was 14 too.” She paused for a moment. Her face wore a sad look. Then she continued, ” I looked for a job. Getting a job, it’s so hard…so hard”, More head shaking. “Then one day my friend said, lets go to LA. I said ok! And we came to LA. I’m from *TJ.” ,she says, by way of explanation. “You know, Tijuana?” she clarifies and I nod . At this point we were briefly interrupted.
“Did you get a job in LA?”, I asked in an attempt to hear the rest of her story. ” Oh yaa!!”, she nodded. ” In LA there were many jobs. I worked in a big company for many years. I got a job, and then I brought my girls to live with me. I left my children with my husband when I went to LA. After I get a job, I bring them. Not the boys, because you know, boys they need their father.” She smiles. “I am a very strong woman. I did it all on my own. Nobody did nothing for me. I learnt everything by myself. That is why I am so strong. It has not been easy, but I did it.” Her face glows with pride, and not unjustly.
I never got to hear the rest of her story. Perhaps, it is not necessary.
*Tijuana – Mexican city across the border from San Diego. I plan to cross the border and go there someday. It may not be Mexico’s best or safest city, but it’s just across the border and easy to access.