Five and counting

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges

We went shopping today, a rare day when all of us were off from our responsibilities and could spend it together. We went to the outlets near our home, and of course, I had to take a picture in front of the only restaurant that was there, now closed. Not going to lie, it was a strange moment, to see where this journey as an immigrant finally found a cushion now shut down. But it is Thanksgiving week, so I chose gratitude.

I look back at what I wrote about the experience, and I can’t help but smile at my innocence. Maybe I can even call it naiveté. It was clearly the work of someone who trusted people way more, that was clearly terrified of what he had done, upending his world like that. But then I see where I am now, and I can feel nothing but gratitude.

It’s been five years since we moved to Orlando, Y. from New York, me from Caracas. I can safely say it has been one hell of a ride, and we have come a long way since. I am about to embark on a new job adventure that I will tell you about when the time comes, I can actually start planning on buying my first car, and we have plans we could not have conceived of when we landed here. And we have a dog!

There have been weird moments, of course. Not two weeks ago, I was turning away from a table and a lady at it yelled at me “Server person!” twice. I turned to her, hiding how flabbergasted I was, and smiled and said “My name is Juan, ma’am”. Her response? “Oh, I’m never going to remember that”. There was the lady that insisted I replace the two –TWO– burnt shrimp in her bowl. There was the guy that handed me a fistful of quarters and said “Here’s your tip, friend, thank you”. There have also been hugs from kids, ladies that said their autistic daughter had the best birthday ever, families that give a little more because it was my birthday, and all the weird and wacky folks I have worked with.

Five years ago, I landed here not knowing what to expect beyond a LOT of work. I didn’t expect to start working at Universal Studios. I didn’t expect to meet cool musicians. I didn’t expect the best dog in the world. Along the way, I have managed to find my way out of some disasters, avoid others, and even mark up some wins. I have learned, maybe times forcibly, how to be a responsible adult with money, some twenty years too late. And it all started that day, in that restaurant. (Ok, a little earlier, but the actual start was at that restaurant.

On this day, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had in this country. The little things I have done, the not-so-little things, what I’ve seen, who I’ve met, what I’ve done. Here’s to many more adventures, especially in this new chapter of my life, which I hope I may see those who honor me with their visits here, for many years to come.

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