I Can Finally Breathe…(Non-fiction Memoir)

By Bo

 

Undoing the pain of upward mobility…

Today I have come to the realization that maintaining a legal status was the most burdensome duty. It feels so free to not carry that weight anymore. All this time, the burden of having a legal status had dictated my life path—how my day was supposed to look like, where I was able to live, what kind of job I could get, how many ounces of air I could breathe, and all the negotiations and exploitation I had to endure…

Now I can live life however I want, since I have nothing else to lose. That perfect immigration record I had tried my hardest to maintain now means nothing. Nothing. Not even the graduate diploma or the 4.0 GPA I shed my blood to get, could “save my ass.” I can’t believe that this day has come…the day that I’m finally released from the restrictive legal dictates.

Although there are potential dangers and violent encounters awaiting me, I feel that the shifting perspective on survival I have come to embody and the tightened networks of community I have crafted through tears are powerfully enabling me to transform. The love and support that I have received from those who are truly invested in challenging the various systems of oppression made me realize that there is nothing that can trump my humanity.

When time was “running out”…

Living past the midnight mark last night was quite empowering. It prompted me to reflect on how fictitious time is and how arbitrary these state apparatuses are, in dictating when someone gets to stay or needs to go. The false line dividing April 7 and 8 is just one second different, and such a fictitious shift between having legal protection and being undocumented is so profound. Nevertheless, after all, linear temporality and immigration law are just made-up and cannot co-opt my material existence. At the very least I won’t let these pervasive fictions destroy my soul and control my life any longer.

In essence, the real difference between yesterday and today for me is that I have ceased to internalize what the state apparatuses had instilled in me for the longest time—the direct relationship between a “flawless” record and my well-being. Now that this colonizing connection is over, I feel freer than ever—the first time in almost a decade since I first became regulated by this system.

Today I have come to the realization that I was my own worst critic. Nobody else, besides immigration authorities, knew the legitimacy of my documents—when I could legally stay or when I had to leave, or the limitations of the visa I had. It was in the end my own self who knew these regulations the best and practiced them on a daily basis. Today I woke up to the fact that this was precisely the mechanism of control that the U.S. government reinforces in the minds of its subjects, to generate fear. Now that I’m on the other side of these regulations, I’m getting accustomed to a new structure of feelings that the new legal circumstances have opened up for me.

I can finally breathe…

I feel empowered to have crossed the fictitious line between legality and illegality. The sky didn’t fall on me. The world is still the same; nothing is different. One thing that has changed is my perspective on survival and relationship building. I feel empowered to have turned this crisis into an opportunity…with much support from those I love.

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