Identity, culture, and migration
This picture is of my friend, he is also a musician. He plays the bass. He plays a lot of popular Mexican music of many groups. He knows a lot. He was at my house.
How long have you been in your house?
I have been here for several years. I come from El Salvador and I have been in the US for 25 years. I have been in this house for 4 years and in Seattle I've been 24 years. I have sometimes gone back to El Salvador, and then I come back. I once had a Job for many years here and that’s why I stayed.
Yes, he is from Peru, he works in Ballard. He helped Susan as well, a long time ago. He was a paratrooper. You know what that is? And so we always drink coffee at McDonalds, in the morning when he goes to work, and I come. He is a great person, but he is sitting because he is very tall. See there? He’s very tall. Máximo, this is his name. I asked, “Can I take a photo?” “If you want,” because he has already taken pictures with his own camera, he has asked me just do this, but sometimes because I don’t know, two or three pictures would be bad. This time he accepted, so he sat.
Well, see, I have a small apartment, because I have a friend, a friend who is a very nice guy, so he said, “You can get a small room, why do you stay on the streets?” Because I’m now 60, but at age 55 they give you more of a chance, when you’re 55 years old, so he facilitated and looked out for me. If not, I would still be out in the streets.
This is Samuel, another work colleague. That day he was doing the housekeeping/cleaning. I know him from Juárez, but we met here in Seattle. We have worked together. A very good guy, retired, you know.
Yea, I don’t know much about him, but, you know, he’s a good person, A good worker.
And you, how long have you been in the United States?
People come here with a wrong image, they think it’s very easy to make money. When I first arrived in this country I worked in a fishing plant for two years, and every night I would got to my room and stand in the shower and cry. What you have to go through is terrible.
Las personas vienen aquí con la imagen equivocada, creen que es muy facilito hacer dinero. Cuando primero llegué a este país trabajé en una pescadería por dos años, y cada noche al llegar a mi cuarto me metía a la ducha a llorar. Lo que tienes que vivir es terrible.
Dreams advise me of things that will happen, and I give thanks to God and appreciate very much this country and the people that have helped me, people that have given me work. I know I will be happy in my country because I leave fulfilled, happy.
Mis sueños me avisan de lo que me va a suceder en el momento, y le doy gracias a Dios y agradezco mucho a este país y la gente que me ha dado la mano, la gente que me ha dado trabajo. Yo sé que voy a ser feliz en mi país porque me voy realizada, contenta.
My employer in this house is very particular about how she wants her house cleaned and her bed done. I clean very thoroughly, and she likes my work. So if it were not for that bed, and the way in which I tend to it, I would not have this job. I believe I have this job because of how I work and clean, the special touch, the delicate approach, whatever nice thing about it she likes. I have worked with her for 5 years now.
I took this photo because it is the place where I rest, where I speak my triumphs, my frustrations, my sorrows, sometimes my pain of being away from my family… it’s my home, my “love nest,” as they say, because I live alone. For me, the pillows have a special meaning because they are my partners, I share with them my sorrows, the good and the bad things that have happened to me.