Today is Thanksgiving Day and I wanted to write a blog about what I’m thankful for this year. After yesterday, I realized that what I’m most thankful, most grateful for is a piece of cardboard that my mom found a long time ago.
I finished my script for Cristela, a show I sold earlier in the year to ABC, based on my stand-up and my family. I’ve been writing it with my friend Kevin for a while and we finished it yesterday. When we were working on the last scene of the script, Kevin and I started talking about how I got here, living in Los Angeles, working on a script that could potentially become a pilot. It’s really pretty amazing. We talked about the sacrifices that parents make to ensure that their kids have opportunities they could never have and it made me think of my mom and the cardboard I’m so thankful for.
When my mom was a little girl, she lived in El Zancarron, San Luis Potosi in Mexico. El Zancarron is a lot more modern now than it was back then (I say that because I look it up on Google maps often and I can’t recognize it anymore). I remember visiting a number of times when I was a kid and having to take a bath by standing in a tub and pouring cups of water over me. I remember having to go to the bathroom by walking outside to a field and just picking a spot to squat. I loved visiting though because it was where my mom was from. I was very close to my mom. We shared a twin bed till I was eighteen years old so I was literally and figuratively close to my mom. Sometimes we used to lie in the tiny bed and she would tell me stories of her growing up in her little village. I loved when she did that. I loved hearing her talk about her being a little girl. My favorite story she told was when she was twelve. She was walking this dirt trail, walking to go get water from a well to take back home when she stopped to pick up this piece of cardboard that had the words McAllen, TX written on it. She didn’t know where that was but she knew it was a place that sounded very exotic to her. I remember her telling me, “When I saw that piece of cardboard, I knew I wanted to go there. I wanted to live in McAllen, TX.” (Actually she said, “Cuando vi el pedazo de carton en el camino, sabia que yo queria vivir in McAllen, TX.”-she never learned to speak English so I translated.)
It was really a crazy thing for my mom to think. Here she was, a girl with a second grade education that knew nothing about the United States saying she wanted to move there. But after getting married to a not-so-nice guy and separating from him, giving birth to four children and 20 years of trying to become a legal resident of the United States, she accomplished what she wanted. She ended up in McAllen, TX and had succeeded in accomplishing what she set out to do.
It wasn’t an easy thing for her. She was the youngest of her family and moving to the United States meant pretty much not seeing her family ever again. It meant her having to take a job cooking at a restaurant where she made $6,000 a year and somehow raise four children on her own with that money. Yet despite the hardships she had, she loved this country more than anything in the world. She loved the life it gave her and the opportunities it would give us, her children.
The life my family has now is because of her. It’s because of this amazing woman that moved mountains to make sure that our struggle was easier than her struggle. Yes, at times we were hungry. Yes, for a while our family car was a shopping cart. Yes, we didn’t have electricity at times but my family loved those times because we knew how much harder life would’ve been for us in Mexico.
This year has been such an amazing year for me. I’ve had things happen that I could’ve only dreamed about when I was a little girl. In 2013, I got to begin working on a TV show that tells the story of my family for a TV network. I know that getting this show on the air will be difficult but I’m just thankful to have this shot. I am so grateful for everyone that’s been directly involved in this process and even more grateful for the woman that started her journey back in Mexico in 1943.
My mom took the leap into the unknown and began a journey that changed her life and our lives forever. She passed away years ago and the biggest lesson I learn after her death was that if she could take a chance and leap into the unknown, so could I.
A year later, I started doing stand-up. And ten years after that, I’m here.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Today I’m most thankful for the piece of cardboard my mom found a long time ago in Mexico. That piece of cardboard started my mom’s journey that led me to where I am today.