Hello and happy Thursday. If you’ve been following me along these past few weeks as I’ve been talking about my three-week exchange to the States when I was a junior, thank you. I’ve tried to give you small chunks at a time because I know it can get exhausting to read a very long blog post. Today, though, I’ll finish day one, and then we can move on to more fun stuff (not).
I learned a lot about Irene on that trip, like the fact that she wasn’t super confident about her English, at least when it meant talking to Ruth and her mom. Now that I think about it, maybe it was her small way of rebelling; “you don’t understand my Spanish but I sure as hell understand your English. I just choose not to communicate with you directly.” I also learned that she was terrified of animals, and I don’t mean snakes or crocodiles, which probably didn’t even live where we were staying because of the temperature. I’m talking about regular pets, like the golden retriever and three thousand cats that inhabited Ruth’s house. The cats gave us a warm welcome by being in our beds, waiting for us.
We were left alone for a while after that incident, free to speak in Spanish and let all of that afternoon sink in. I knew what Irene was thinking, because it was the same thing that I thought: where the fuck are we and what did we do to deserve it? Seriously though, it was as if someone had a checklist of everything we really didn’t like and decided to punish us by giving it to us. And if you think I’m exaggerating now, just try to imagine how I felt at the tender age of seventeen.
Ruth and her mom had assembled welcome baskets for us, which had mints, post cards, maxi pads (like really huge ones), and other stuff with the American flag on it. Oh, the actually gave us a mini American flag that I must’ve left at my previous job. Man, they’re probably putting MAGA caps in their baskets now. One day Irene told me to stop eating the mints because she was sure we were being drugged with them. Hey, it’s ‘Murica, people’s water is already being poisoned with stuff to make you more docile. Why not put that into the mints too?
That night we had pasta, and I was very grateful for that because I love pasta and I also appreciated the fact that they made such an easy dish for me (the vegetarian girl) and didn’t make a huge fuzz about it. We had pasta the night after that, and then the following night, and basically every night Irene and I stayed in the house because what else do vegetarians eat anyway?
That night at dinner I started to realize how Ruth operated. How she was going to make our lives miserable for a week. The dad came home. A small man compared to what Susan was. He was shy and quiet, too, but I think it was because he knew that his wife was the one in charge and what he said or thought didn’t matter much. The only thing that he apparently led was prayer time. Oh, yes, turns out Ruth forgot to tell us that before they ate, they blessed their food, so when her dad said “let’s begin,” he didn’t mean let’s begin eating, he meant let’s close our eyes and pray. That, I realized, was the way in which Ruth operated, by not saying anything, at least not to the people she had an issue with. She didn’t tell us about the praying, which obviously made us look bad and feel bad.
Ruth’s family loved to take children from countries like Haiti and have them in their home while they were undergoing medical treatment. And I think that they might have thought that we were like those children they usually hosted in their house. Maybe they hadn’t been told that at the time our school was the best in Colombia, that the school was private and its students belonged mostly to the middle and upper classes, that this was not our first time in the States and it would certainly not be the last one.
So of course when the conversation got to the “is this your first time in America?” question, I had to say that one, no it wasn’t; I’d indeed been in the States just the previous month, and two, I actually had been born in the States, thank you very much. I knew that comment was going to make Ruth like me even less, but I really didn’t mind. I hated and will always hate when people made assumptions made on my country of citizenship, and I was really mad that Ruth’s family felt they were better than me because of the color of their passport, which I shared with them.
After dinner we went to sleep even though it was still super early because we had school the following day. I was glad to be able to rest, and to spend a day with Eileen and Becky at school. I didn’t know what Ruth and her mom had in store for us, but I would find out soon. What do you think would happen with us? Let me know in the comments below.
Love, Miss Camila