The Dreamer Condition (Fiction)

By Fernando Romero

Fernando, graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2009 and studied Creative Writing and Journalism. He is a co-founding member of Dreamers Adrift and co-founding member of the AB 540 group FUEL and news magazine El Reflejo @ CSULB. He is also the Coordinator for the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, an immigrant-rights coalition in the Inland Empire region of California.
 

 

 

So you’ve decided to become a DREAMer. Great! Fantastic! It says a lot about you. For one, you’re idealistic and that you realize the importance of education, but mostly it says that you’ve been able to look past the bullshit the world and your “situation” has put you through and decided to make something of yourself.

First thing you got to do is dream. DREAM BIG! Set your dreams so high that even if you only accomplish twenty percent of what you set out to do, you will have accomplished more than most people do in their lifetime. Education is important and it will be open doors for you and this realization will impel you to achieve anything you set your mind to. Aspire to be a doctor, a college professor, an engineer, a lawyer, a firefighter, an astronaut, a Hollywood movie star, why you can even be President of the United States of America.

High school graduation was anti-climactic, at best. Apply to your nearest junior college. AB 540 has just passed in California and the opportunity to attain a higher education has presented itself. When applying to junior college you will be asked to present your social security number and proper documentation. Tell them you’re undocumented; the white-haired woman at the registration office will look puzzled and provide you with a separate application process. You will enroll undeclared, but for some odd reason you lean toward Communications Studies.

On the first day of the class, you notice you’re the only student wearing a tie and dress shirt. It seemed you held junior college in very high regards. Nonetheless, you immerse yourself in the college experience. You will realize that college textbooks are also expensive and head over to the nearest public library to check out books you need for class. When you get there, the librarian asks you for your social. They turn you away and you decide to steal the books for class instead. It’s easy, put the book in your jacket and walk out while the clerks are watching you in plain sight. The first couple of times you swipe books for your intro classes in philosophy, cultural geography and statistics, but the one that affected you the most (one you didn’t even need at all!) was The Fall by Albert Camus.

At one point, even though you’re living in the shadows, you’re going to become an active member of society and get a job to pay for your school. Your parents are good, hard-working people but can barely pay rent or bills, and they don’t really see the point in college. Paying tuition cash will be somewhat embarrassing every semester, as you count off dollar bills at the cashier’s office and your “fellow” college students are waiting in line, with checkbooks and credit cards in hand, roll their eyes at the absurdity of it all. Finding a job is always difficult, but even more so for an undocumented person. You have to get fake documentation. Go down to the Alameda Swap meet on Vernon off the Blue Line metro station, walk around for a minute or two, a man pushing an ice cream cart will quietly advertise “ice cream, ice cream, fake IDs, social security card.”

Apply at shit jobs. The kinds of jobs that you know gabachos won’t go for. It’ll make it easier for the application process. The name of the game is high volume, low dollar; factories, warehouses, sweatshops or fast-food restaurant. It seems that everyone starts off at fast food joints (not just the undocumented) and I don’t know why that is, perhaps it’s because in America there’s more fast-food joints than there are college graduates, sadly this is an actual statistic (this is not an actual statistic).  You apply at McDonald’s. The store is located in the toughest neighborhood in Long Beach and your store manager is an aging, Black man who’s been with the company for twenty three years. Bring your fake social and your junior college ID. Jake, the store manager, will ask you where you got your social from and without a flinch lie to him and say that you got it at the Social Security Administration office and that if it seems odd to him it’s because you just picked it up that week and the texture and width give it a weird feel. Also, learn to keep your lies straight, we’ll talk more about this later. In order to make your social appear legitimate, bend the ends a little, try to make it look worn and torn. It’s obvious your driver’s license is a fake, so when they ask you for it, say that you recently lost it, “but here’s my car registration with my name and address on it,” by law they have to accept it as proof of ID (check your I-9 form). Jake will ask you to tell him a bit about yourself; tell him you’re a fast learner, self-motivated and a college student. Assertion of your status as a college student will expunge any qualms in your employer in regards to your dubious papers and your undocumented situation.

You’re hired as a cook and work in the kitchen. The job is easy. You get to work with a lot of Raza in the kitchen who most, like you, are also undocumented. You recuperate the Spanish you lost as an adolescent in high school when you were trying to fit in with those white surfer kids. You learn to balance school and work life. By day you’re a college student, by evenings a slave to major corporations and by nights, when you’re home again, an undocumented immigrant once again. Your father and mother want you to quit McDonald’s and quit school to go work with them full time doing landscaping work. This will create friction at home one day you mother will come home with a job application from her employment and say “Joaquin, ya dejate de pendejadas y ponte a trabajar,” and as calm as possible you say,” Mom, I like school.”

In your first year at community college you will party very hard, work on very interesting school and extracurricular projects and meet very interesting people; you notice that some are very smart and motivated and some are just not (unfortunately you will continue to look at the people in this world in those terms for the rest of your life). You will join both the debate team and the Campus Progressives, and because you are a dreamer, and have a high propensity for illusionary thoughts, you will develop crushes on Martina Steiner, Lynette Salcedo, Maricela Nieves, and (a set of blonde twins) Amber & Ashleigh Gregory; none of these crushes will be reciprocated.

Jake likes you because among other things, you are one of four people at the job, including him, who speak English. He wants to promote you to shift manager and slowly develop you into a career with the company. You’re flattered, but in the end you turn it down and say you need to focus on school and that it will always be your primary objective. You continue to work at McDonald’s, Jake will resent you vehemently for not taking the manager position he offered to you, he will start to bark orders at you and berate you in front of your coworkers. Your hours will be sliced in half and then one day you walk into the manager’s office to find him pocketing monies from the safe deposit box. He threatens you and says that if you denounce him no one will believe you and he would point the blame back at you. You walk out of the job that same day with 25 minutes left on your shift. Unemployed, your focus becomes exclusive to school.

For the next job you will push a mop and a broom at an oil refinery in Wilmington. The shift starts at 10 PM and goes into early morning hours. These are hours you have rarely visited; you will shape your school schedule for evening classes, work the nights and sleep most of the day. At work, you befriend a married couple from Oaxaca. They are short, recently immigrated and don’t even speak Spanish. Every night, after cleaning the office buildings, the three of you ride on the back of a pick-up truck driven by one of the security guards up a cliff that sits a giant tower for cleaning. The tower emits heavy fumes of carbon monoxide and your job is to sweep it clean of any debris and dirt that coalesces on its sides. Every morning, after work, the three of you go to a nearby restaurant for breakfast and most of your communication consists of nods, smiles, pointing at things and broken sign language; you learn that he has a heart condition and they came here to care for it. The months go by, your grades suffer, the job is so menial that it’s degrading, the graveyard shift causes you to lose touch with reality when you see less and less of your friends, family and a girlfriend of six months who you end up breaking up with anyway. One day, the Oaxacan couple stop showing up, they don’t hire replacements, and they tell you it is because they’ve gotten another job. Five weeks later, while you’re getting off work, you see her at the restaurant, she tells you in broken Spanish that she is trying to get her job back, that her husband had died of a heart attack and was buried in Oaxaca. She looks broken, body like a waif, cheek bones sunken in, and the violent rays of the rising sun are yellow and her eyes spell out desperation and she will simply wish you well in life and tell you to go with God.

The following year, your guidance counselor will advise you that in order to transfer to a four-year university, you need to earn work credit in a paid position within your field of study. She will tell you that in Communications Studies, the field of discipline is very ample. You apply for a job at a print shop. “I believe that paper is still the best communication medium of our time,” you argue half-heartedly. The application process, for the most part, will be similar to your previous jobs, except that by this point, your resume will reflect a litany of paid positions and your affirmation as a college student, once again will quiet the skeptics. You get a position as a conveyor belt operator and stack hundreds of sheets of paper and feed it to the printing press. It seems a bit glamorous at first because your work produces Time, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic and other popular magazines. This job will bring you close with working-class white people and because you grew up in the ghettos and marginalized from society, and did not come in contact with white people who like you and your family also lived paycheck to paycheck; it will be a humbling realization.

That same school year, you and a handful of other AB 540 students at your community college establish the first group for undocumented students at your campus. You name it Students to Raise Awareness and Consciousness. The mission of the group is to establish a safe space for undocumented students. You realize you are not alone and you relate with them like expatriates in exile, with only the feeling of being strangers in one’s own homeland to bind you. The foundation of this group becomes an epiphany, and this realization is indeed the formation of your political mindset, one that will manifest itself in distinct methodologies, but will as a guiding principle, delve into the search for the pursuit of truth and justice.

At work, you start noticing Morgan Harris; she has green eyes, auburn hair and a peach-like complexion. Her family moved here from West Virginia, they were homeless for a while after her father lost his job at a coal mine in the Blue Ridge Mountains and moved the whole family to California in search of work. By the way Morgan looks at you when you chat with her at lunchtime, it is obvious she likes you (and you think you like her too). Morgan is sweet-natured and benevolent, the first thing she tells you is “I’ve never met a Mexican boy before,” you don’t know whether or not she’s actually flirting with you. The two of you develop a lover’s tryst. On your first date, you take her to a taco truck in Wilmington and at some point amidst your idle conversation, she will bring up Audrey Hepburn because she’s a big fan of hers; you tell her you have no idea  who that is (that much is true), but you will also talk about each other’s lives, so get your story straight; you were born at St. Mary’s down on Atlantic Avenue, graduated from Poly High and your mom and dad immigrated to this country two decades ago and have now obtained legal residency. You feel like Pinocchio. You and Morgan will date for almost two years; it will be your first long-term relationship as an adult. You get to know each other’s family and her family really likes you. Like a man on death row you, you will want to absolve yourself of this guilt and burden you carry and confess to Morgan about your situation because she has noticed you seemed to be forgetting your driver’s license at the most inopportune times. You hope she will understand, but her family is ultra conservative and her father is a member of the NRA and also did three tours in ‘Nam (so it’s likely he killed a lot of people). You need to tell her because the relationship has advanced so much it will need to be expounded upon. Instead, you begin to sabotage the relationship. When she plans dates for the two of you, for example, at a restaurant or at a bar, knowing you may need to present an ID, you simply tell her, “I just don’t feel like going out,” or “Actually, tonight, I’m kind of busy.” You will start to push her away and stop taking her phone calls altogether. Fights will ensue, screaming matches wherein she yells at you for treating her like shit whilst you bow your head with her piercing scream in your ear, I don’t even know you anymore, who the fuck are you? One night, after the hurling diatribe concludes, she grabs the stuff you’ve left at her place, mostly clothes, books and CDs of your favorite bands or bandas, and throws it out of her window. No goodbye, no nothing. On the drive home that same night, you get pulled over by the sheriff’s. No ID, no driver’s license. The officer sees in you a pair of diaphanous eyes and he knows the towing of your car is the least of your concerns at that moment.

You start what we dreamers call sad drinking.

You suffer an existential crisis that will last two weeks and a bottle of whiskey per night. You will have bouts of depression and like Leo Tolstoy in his essay, “The Confession,” the questions of “what’s the point,” and “I’ll get a college degree and then what,” will arise in regards why you want to continue with your schooling with the acumen that it may all be for naught. Don’t be a cynic, even though we know you are. It’s just; you can’t be. Being a dreamer is like being a clown (or a comedian) like Andy Kauffman, you know funny, but you also know sad. As a dreamer you understand the futility of existence, but you also understand the importance to never dither before life. But the questions will continue, they will shrink and swell, so these are questions that you will have to ask yourself because you will want to know why we are in higher learning? what dream are we after? which situations brought us here? why are people still falling in love and starting families? why are people still fucking?

You quit your job and quit school altogether.

You move to Northern California. The AB 540 group at UC Santa Cruz, Educated Leaders Informing Now, has a house on campus, the Tam Tran House, specifically for dreamers and you move in with friends. They help get you a job as a dishwasher at Dolce Vita; an Italian restaurant near the boardwalk owned by a man of Japanese descent with white servers, French cooks and Latino dishwashers. You will spend 40 hours a week bent over a sink washing dishes; the endless water running through your hands and scrubbing of dishes tears your hands and splits your skin. Not having to worry about school, you become enveloped in the DREAMer movement and become an activist. You will also socialize with other activists of different movements; (anarchists, communists, socialists, feminists, Trotskyists) the kind of individuals that you’re mother would say that you have fallen in with a bad crowd., You take a leadership position as a volunteer at the local chapter of a national immigration advocacy group; you will work closely with undocumented college and high school students in Santa Cruz. You will travel to San Francisco on a regular basis. Along with your fellow dreamers, a consensus is formed. The passage of the DREAM Act is tantamount to the livelihood of this generation. You plan, organize and participate in marches, rallies, protests, boycotts, sit-ins and other activities, all with the purpose of raising awareness to the plight of undocumented students. At one of these events, you meet Belen Velarde, a fellow undocumented leader in the dreamer movement. Belen will also enlighten you on other issues, she is a Women’s Studies major, a staunch feminist and involved in the LGBTQI movement. The two of you will create a small literary journal for poetry and prose for the dreamer/lbgtqi community in the Bay Area. I will fast-forward through the following (since it does not have much to do with the tribulations of work, school, being undocumented or the spatial/relative feeling of being in exile and coping with personal/interpersonal relationships affected by your situation as an undocumented person in any specific manner) you will fall in love, move in, live together, and then suffer a tumultuous break up with Belen. The literary journal you founded dissolves in a few weeks after the split, you leave your volunteer position and rather than put up with random run-ins with her, you move back to Santa Cruz, you lie low and distanced from the movement in the Bay Area.

Your friends at the Tam Tran House notice your disinclination for dreamer activities and the movement. There will be a battle inside you, a binge and purge, a subterranean delight, one seen but not seen, and as if fate would have it, along with other dreamers, you will wind up drunk and lost in the Mission District in San Francisco and you will never forget the vast number of homeless people lying in the middle of sidewalks under the moonlight. When you go to apply as a volunteer at the Mission Shelters for homeless youth, they will ask you for a social, they will also ask you for your fingerprints as well, you tell the group of men and women who configure the Mission District’s organizational board, that you are undocumented. “We understand your situation and we appreciate your interest in becoming a volunteer to help the kids here. But we have to abide by the law and even all of our volunteers need to be registered and meet legal prerequisites. Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.”

Dolce Vita is owned by William Haromi, a sixth generation Japanese tyrant who barks orders at you and calls you lazy and a swine whenever your wash apron gets dowsed in soap water. You are one of three people who are undocumented at this job, and you know this because Gaston Murrieta and Roberto Rascon, two Chilean immigrants and your fellow dishwashers, were unashamed enough in telling you that they were. Don’t tell your coworkers about your situation, no matter where you’re working or whom you’re working with; it can never lead to anything constructive.

Gaston and Roberto like to drink on the job, they keep a bottle of vino tinto and vodka near their dishwashing station, and every hour, on the hour, they serve you a glass/shot of either and toast to your health. By the end of the night, every night, you are bloated with alcohol and as part of your itinerary; you shamelessly flirt with the evening hostess Jenna and then stumble alone back to your room in the Tam Tran House. Gaston and Roberto also don’t speak any English so William will funnel his ire at you when the dish washing is not well/prompt. William tries to enlighten you about the Samurai code of conduct, but what he doesn’t know is that you’ve been having psychic lesions ever since your breakup with Belen, that your social engagement and activism had become your lifeline, that these two entities mirrored one another and that at a certain point it had become one. You felt that she was the one when you saw your future together, grounded and unbending like a redwood tree, at a march near Fisherman’s Wharf; the two of you walking side-by-side leading the rallying chants for dreamers. You thought she was the one until you realized she was crazy. Or maybe it was you who was crazy? One of you was crazy!

The months turn into a year-an-half of apathetic disengagement from the movement or your schooling. Life is narrowing. The rise of anti-immigrant sentiment has quantified. You learn that ICE will conduct an I-9 audit at Dolce Vita, (you hear this from Gaston and Roberto) and you never see your fellow dishwashers ever again. You stop showing up to work. Three days later, the AB 540 group at UC Santa Cruz, recruits you to lead a group of dreamers to stage a rally near the boardwalk in reprisal for the passage of a tough anti-immigrant legislation introduced into the state governing body. You argue for different action in reprisal.

“I think the anti-immigrant climate has reached a point in which we need to escalate our actions,” you say.

The impromptu act of civil of disobedience takes place at the Golden Gate Bridge. You and six other dreamers from the Bay Area conduct a sit-in that shuts down traffic for miles on end from each side of the suspension bridge. Like poets and vagabonds, unconsciously dreaming and with no identification now and always; you find yourselves chained by foot and arm lying down on the bridge floor risking deportation. Six of the seven, including you, are detained and arrested by police. Bail is paid by local pro-immigrant organizations and the other five are released that same day. But as the leader and organizer, you spend a night in jail and are interrogated for your actions. When you come out of jail, your fellow dreamers will look at you like Dante, no, Virgil himself! coming back from hell and ascending into paradise.The Golden Gate Seven, as you will come to be called, get national media exposure and after bail is paid, a court hearing is set. This particular civil disobedience act brings pro-immigrant rights groups to work in unison, some of which are for a comprehensive immigration reform and others are strictly DREAM Act.  You will once again work with pro-immigrant rights groups and activists and work with local and state politicians. The push for immigration reform reaches apogee, but at one point, a disagreement in variance will rupture the work of these pro-immigrant rights groups, and the push for immigration reform will stall. The work of the movement freezes in suspended animation. Alone with your frustration, you punch a hole in the wall of your room and come back home to Long Beach, you take the first train down to Southern California, drink an entire bottle of tequila on the way and wake up wasted and hung-over in Silverlake a day later.

You enroll at UCLA. You change majors to Latin American Studies. Tuition at a four-year is expensive even with AB 540. FAFSA is inapplicable. With the absolute knowledge that you cannot pay tuition of out of your own pocket, apply for scholarships that benefit AB 540 students. These are few and far between. Make plans with campus advisors, professors and counselors. Also, there are many scholarships conferred by public universities and colleges to their students. As a student enrolled at a public institution of higher learning, these monies and scholarships are also allotted to undocumented students registered via AB 540.

You also get a part-time job as a barista near campus. And then school starts. The commute from Long Beach to Westwood is a three-hour, public transportation nightmare which starts at 5:00 am. The dawns in Long Beach, with the morning breeze, a dark blue sky with tints of yellow and the foggy mist moving inland like vapor have been known to drive people mad.  You so are sleepy and tired you feel you drunk. At school, the campus environment is harmonious, or maybe harmonious isn’t the appropriate word you want to use to describe it, maybe pleasant, but whichever word you decide upon, you decide you like the school. You take more classes than you can handle per quarter, so much so that going back home will become redundant and you end up spending some nights sleeping on the floors of the library; waiting and hiding out for closing time and rolling out a blanket you carry in your backpack and laying on the floor. Books always make a good pillow.

At the corporate café where you work, most of the customers are UCLA students whereas your coworkers are all UCLA students.  Their interest in social/political activism will leave you in conversations of their love for their favorite non-profit organization, their recycling habits and methods of energy conservation, but mostly the conversations will delve with cross-country road trips and the banal frivolities/partying at their most recent Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale/Las Vegas and their years spent studying/traveling in France/Ireland. Try not to act jealous; you’re an undocumented student, you will never live this life.

The dreamers on campus are a very cohesive group, but school will remain your top priority, and after school, work, and the late night study sessions will drain you of energy and time. Your involvement with the movement is limited, but you remain committed. The courses and classes will be very demanding. During finals week, your body will succumb to insomnia and sleep deprivation as if though it were the plague. Pictures of you asleep in class, curled up in your chair or with your head down on your desk as if dead to the world will be taken without your consent and posted on your Facebook page. Ines, Castaneda, the chair from the department of Latin American Studies will chide you without mercy.

“Listen, it’s obvious you don’t want to be here. You’re wasting your time and wasting your money.”

Before you answer, look sheepishly around her office; realize that perhaps she doesn’t know about your situation.

“It’s just that I’ve just been very preoccupied with other classes and work and stuff.”

She shakes her head, “I don’t care.”

And before you could chime in she takes a folder from a file cabinet and shows you your class performance.

“You’re lagging behind. Your assignments are poorly executed and your papers are written at a sixth-grade level. You should consider dropping my class and the quarter altogether. ”

You might have been writing those essays in overly simplistic fashion. But sixth-grade level? That hurts.

You contemplate dropping out and you know you should. You’re an activist and a dreamer; you may tell yourself that you have a higher purpose. But in the end, you don’t drop out and what you’ve begun to realize is that obstacles and deterrents have been your focal point of your determination in your college career. You know the goal of graduation would be worth the stumbles. As you push on, graduation nears; your involvement with dreamer activism diminishes to merely attending meetings and outreaching with junior college and high school students.

You pull yourself together, the quarters start to blur with one another, courses, papers and class projects swallow up your time. Castaneda sees your improvement. To her, you seem more relaxed, your eyes have the clarity of a preacher and you smile a lot more. She is impressed by your school projects and your activism as well as the turnaround in your grades. She offers you a work study position as an aide for a professor in one the Latin American Studies courses. You can quit your job down at that café and you will get paid to do what you love, she says. The position is a catalyst for perhaps a position as a lecturer and eventually a professorship. As an aide, the university would pay you to work closely with students you’ve already have been working with anyway. You are flattered. Absolutely flattered. She hands you some forms and smiles at you; she knows that you will take the position. Six days later she calls you and asks you if you could start the following week. I can’t do it, you say. Don’t try to explain it to her.

Graduation day surprises you. For as long as you can remember, graduating from a four-year university was all that was on your mind, it is all your fellow dreamers were thinking of and then when the day comes, it will catch you unaware. You feel that it is too early to graduate, that perhaps you haven’s fulfilled the college experience yet or that perhaps you need to do more work, more activism and more learning. Graduation day will be satiated with moments of ecstasy and melancholy. At the ceremony, you sit with a cluster of dreamers, all of you with the mantra of “Pass DREAM Act,” written atop your graduation cap, your gowns adorned with colorful tassels of a variety of subjects and collegiate departments, in the stands your sisters beaming with delight, your mother sobbing quietly because only she knows, a banner advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act is held seventeen rows deep into the crowd (almost like in defiance to the rather passive and festive mood reverberating in the audience), keynote speakers bestow words of encouragement upon the graduates, name after name is called on stage, you see your friends smiling at you and cheering you when you’re called on stage and handed your diploma, and even though ecstasy and misery can sometimes be the difference of a mere shrug and a shake to the head, know that on graduation day the delight is palpable, the energy is evident at the after-party organized by your fellow dreamers, parents and families also partake in the festivities, and everyone will say their best words of the day are these dreamy times, and then you think to yourself that perhaps you’ve lost a bit of your innocence on this day, but they are all there to celebrate the accomplishment of the graduating dreamers, the festivities go on until late, until one by one, dreamers and their families bid each other farewell, you thank everyone for the well wishes and then with a grin on your face, you fall into a deep sleep.

This narrative should really end here, but you and I both know that life is more callous than fiction and literature.

You quit your job as a barista. For the entire summer after graduation you send out your résumé to different job opportunities. These are notices you see in the want ads in the newspaper, or opportunities you hear about from friends or colleagues; each one is posted with explicit requirements that upon hiring your employer will need to see your proper documentation and proof that you are legally qualified to work in this country as if though your college degree was printed with someone’s else name on it. You send out your résumés nonetheless.

You end up getting a job in construction because it was only thing that was viable. Your boss is an Oregonian who refers to you as “holmes.” The job is grueling. You dig ditches for a living, but it’s at least a living (anyway, that’s what you tell yourself every day after work). The job is labor intensive and back breaking, what was once full-fledged academic potential has receded into menial work once again. You’re in mid-20s and you have yet to establish a career. But you stay connected to the dreamer movement, if only at least to maintain a sense of camaraderie. You notice that the world is narrowing once again and people (not like you) are falling into uncomplicated, comfortable existences. A simple pattern is followed; college graduation, jumpstart a career, marriage, home ownership, etc…

For a long time, you will agonize like a bleeding heart. You will stick your college degree in a shoe box and bury it underneath your bed.  You know that there are people in your situation who have it worse than you do, undocumented people who work from dusk ‘til dawn to put food on their family’s table; and that even with the reassurance of the privileges you have, of knowing the language and culture of this country and having a college education; at the end of the day, none of that makes you feel any better. There will be a smirk permanently nestled at one corner of your mouth. Like a bleeding heart you will be drained of life and your distancing from the dreamer movement will only add to your frustration and disenfranchisement. You decide to get involved with dreamer movement once again; by now they’re obviously a lot younger than you and more vibrant and active than you remember yourself being.

You apply to graduate school.

So from here on end, a lot of different things can happen. One thing’s for sure; you will stay active with the DREAM Act, immigration reform and other social justice movements. Perhaps you end up going to graduate school. Perhaps you may even get accepted into a Ph.D. program at a prestigious university. Or maybe you land a job as a coordinator at a non-profit organization. Another probable scenario is that the DREAM Act passes. Or maybe, just maybe, you end up working construction for the next 15 or 20 years, or you shuffle from one menial job to another; and if that is the case, you will live and work with the same determination and exuberance you had when you were a student. And on one of those days after work, late at night, you walk down to the shore in Long Beach. From the bluffs overlooking the beach, you stare at the immense ocean that engulfs us all, maybe you’re old and gray and you think about your days as a dreamer; back when you were young, back when you were happy, back when you were still undocumented. The sky is an overcast blue and yellow, the Queen Mary is imposing as ever, and off in the distance you see lights of small ships shimmering as they go in to the Port of Long Beach. The beams of their lights seemed to carve the space in two and remain suspended in midair for brief moments. And then it happened again, as a yacht or a small boat sailed over the same spot, the yellow hue emanating from the light which turned in on itself and was sliced in half and remained positioned where it was originally signaled from, even as the boat passed over it. The light reflected its own iridescence and hung in the air for a few seconds as the boats continued their movement as if though a mirror was suspended in the middle of the open seas for if nothing else but for aesthetic purposes. It was a lonely light created by an optical illusion, or maybe it was the far-reaching horizon of the ocean, the curvature of the Earth, the raging oceanic waters, a rupture of light that from your vantage point appears to be a dream or a miracle, which in the end, like life itself, ends up being the same goddamn fucking thing.

 

 

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