I don’t remember much from my childhood in Mexico. The stories I share with others about my adventures in Mexico with my mom are not from flashbacks, but from the vivid stories my mom has told me. When my mom begins to tell stories about me as a little boy I see a sparkle in her eye, as if she is still living that moment today. Having no videos or as many pictures as I’d like to have from my childhood makes me sad and frustrated. All I have is an old Mexican picture ID that allowed me to cross the border and enter the United States without any difficulties. Despite the fact that we entered the United States without any troubles, one can still say that our journey to this country is quite unique.

I take a closer look at my ID. It is worn out, has some water damage from being in the washer a few times by accident, and the card itself is coming apart from the plastic that holds it together. I look at my picture; I was about two years old. I notice a brown hand holding my white pale arm. It is my mother’s hand. Others might say that her hand was just there to hold me still, but for me, her hand holding my arm symbolizes all the love she has given me for so many years and all the effort she has put in for her only child as a single parent.

My mom was laid off from her job as a teacher in a little pueblo where she taught first grade. Finding a job was difficult during that time period and her opportunities were shrinking; moving to the United States was the best choice for us as a family. She called her sister who lived in Nuevo Laredo and explained to her what she wanted to do. That day I got my identification card. My mom’s card was expired, and she could not afford to renew it; she was afraid that they would not let us cross the border. My mom tells me that it was difficult leaving her father, but she knew that staying in Mexico was not the best thing for us. She told me how cold-blooded she felt when her father was about to put his foot in the taxi to go with her and she didn’t allow it. She knew it was time for her to do it on her own.

Arriving to Nuevo Laredo, my mom had mixed emotions. Her sister Dianey wanted to take my mom to have her cards read. My aunt was one of those women who believed in brujas and curanderas—my mom had no other choice but to go with her sister. My mom described the “witch’s” little house as one you might see in a horror film; dark, unmaintained, dilapidated and as if it were held up by rotten wood. Before she entered the house my mom asked God to protect and forgive her for what she was about to do. My mom felt scared, not necessarily on what her “future” would be, but because of the witch’s appearance. She was petite, dark skinned and her hair seemed greasy as if she hadn’t showered in days. Her eyes were big and red like cherry tomatoes and she was missing a couple of teeth. The witch began to place cards on the table. She then told my mom that while on the bus to go to the United States an African American male and a white woman would board the bus to check everyone’s visa or ID, to make sure that they are not fake or expired, that they will come up to me, rub my head, and not ask for any information.

She gave my mom some kind of “potion” for her to drink before she’d get on the bus. After my mom exchanged hugs with her sister and some of her family, she looked at the little bottle and threw it as far as she could. She knew that she was in God’s hands. My mom told me how she felt very scared when the bus made a stop, which meant that the border patrol agents where going to start asking for visas and identification cards. Then her fear turned to shock. An African American male and a white woman were the border patrol agents that boarded the bus. They patted my head, did not ask for any information, and just kept walking. The witch was right. My mom was relieved that they did not ask for our identification cards, but she also felt sad for a couple that was kicked off the bus for having fake visas. She knew that they were also looking for the American dream.

We were now in America. The rest is history. “Thank you, mom, for bringing me to this country.” That is the first thing I told her the night I walked across the stage and received my high school diploma. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her on her forehead. Everything I have accomplished I owe to the one woman who is always waiting for me at home with her arms open. She is the woman who would take me to the dollar movies each Friday when I was little; my favorite part of that day was not the movie we were going to watch or the bus ride but when we’d cross the street and she’d grab my hand and hold it tight. Holding her hand made me feel safe; her nails may have been chipped and her hands may have had wrinkles, but those wrinkles are there to represent all the hard work she has done for her only child. No matter how old I am I will always be her “pollito,” her little chick. It amazes me how one picture can bring back so many memories. I will always carry it with me until the end of time. It is a picture that will not only remind me of the great stories my mom would tell me but to remind me of what a great mother I have.

My wallet now consists of a Texas ID, which I rarely use, a social security and residency card that represent my status in this country, and a student ID which allows me to open many doors around the university campus. Even though my wallet is packed with many cards and credentials that I now use, I will always save a slot for my old picture ID that represents my journey to this country.

UNTIL THE END OF TIME by Cristian Ortiz-Salas