Warning: cheesiness and tears ahead!!
One year ago today, after 14 years of fighting America’s immigration system, America finally opened its doors to me and I became a citizen! As my husband snapped pictures and filmed, along with other proud families, I had a rare moment of utter clarity: all my life, I had pursued only one dream. A single one! To be safe, to choose my own destiny, my own husband, my own life. It’s small, it’s cliche, it’s something you hear everyday – but none of that makes it less self-defining. In a strange movie reel, America flashed before my eyes the same way our dreams of “The One” do:
I started learning English with a flashlight or a candle that often burned the tip of my nose dark the next morning.
My first memory of hearing the English language was Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana song.
My first memory of hearing the word “rock and roll” was at a traditional wedding where I was the equivalent of a flower girl but it meant I carried the bride’s dowery around. As I folded her new bed linens, I heard a strange music. It was Ray Charles “I’ve Got a Woman.” I followed it to the flat rooftop of the small house where I saw the young guests dancing in the dark. A boy whose face, name, or relationship to the wedding I don’t remember said to me “Dance little rocker!”
And so on and so on. I will spare you the journey, but when I was swearing my allegiance, I looked around me and I saw what they called “Faces of America.” Every race, every color, every creed…. all for one dream. I wondered what each of their fights had looked like… And just like that, as I vowed that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God, 30 Nights was born in my head! Within 30 minutes (true!) of my oath, my husband and I were driving like lunatics to make the polls to vote in the presidential election. I dropped my ballot with about 10 minutes to spare from closing! That evening, after a burger, a beer, and doughnuts, I started outlining 30 Nights. Here are my first notes 🙂 (ignore my chicken scratch, there is a reason Elisa writes in calligraphy!)
A bit later, I put pen to paper and my babies, Elisa, Aiden, and Javier were born. So today, in a way is their birthday too – at least their conception! 🙂 Here are my first doughnuts in America, courtesy of my friend Arilee and coworkers who saw this journey with me.
A year later, almost to the date, Thirty Nights is heading to the publishers! I looked up some statistics, hoping to find that the death rate for people on their birthday is very low. But unfortunately, I found the opposite. It’s apparently 14% chance. Well, I am told that traditional publishing chances these days are even lower, less than 1%!! So my birthday wish, ironically, remains the same today as it was when I first started having the American Dream: not to be a statistic!
The rest of Thirty Nights/TMM will be posted very quickly in the next few days and will come down officially next week to maintain its creative integrity. It will give you time to finish it (especially the new readers!) and – if it’s not too much to ask – please bless it with your love and care the way you have done all this time. Maybe if we combine our wishes and happy thoughts, it will help this story on its little journey! I admit to some superstition and belief in karma and since you have helped this story form, it felt wrong sending it off without your little “Godspeed!” There will be other things that will be posted on the blog, Aiden POV, outtakes, sequel, a new story (yep, you read that right!!), and of course all the rejection letters as they roll in. If Nabakov got 367 rejection letters, I cannot imagine what my number will be. Hideous, as Elisa would say. But none of that today. Let’s have another TMM/30N chapter! THANK YOU everyone, thank you my country of origin and thank you America!!!!
Song: Amado Mio, Pink Martini http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MV2A-XwoSw