In one world I am half the age of the people that I work closely with and far too frequently older than the ones that I serve. In the other, I spend almost all of my time with 18-22 year olds.
In one world my US passport is a heavy privilege and every time I cross the border I want to be interrogated – I want them to make my life as difficult as possible because I don’t deserve for it to be this easy. In the other world I use my passport to fly to France, England, and Italy.
In one world I am shocked when I meet someone who has graduated from la prepa (the Mexican equivalent to high school). In the other world I take for granted that I am in the midst of a university education and am making plans for prestigious grad schools.
In one world it seems that few understand what it is like to be a student at Georgetown. In the other even fewer seem to grasp what it is like to be a migrant.
I can barely begin to describe what culture shock looks like between these two worlds. To go to my cousin’s wedding in Santa Barbara this weekend and stay up sobbing because I can’t explain the depth of the injustice that I am living and the divide that I feel. To sometimes stay up fearfully thinking about the spring at Georgetown because I don’t know if I have the strength to make that jump.
If migrants often feel loneliness in their isolation from their homeland and language, I can sometimes understand the sentiment when I jump between worlds. The sometimes desperate feeling that I live alone in the middle and my time in Mexico will never fully be understood by those in my other world.
But then I realize how arrogant it is to imagine that I am alone between these two worlds. How self-centered to forget that many others have lived this reality of service long before I was even born. How silly of me to forget the constant letters, phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and comments from my friends and family in the US who do care and do understand a piece of what I live. Or the many times that I translate for groups of students or volunteers who come to el comedor to learn more about the reality South of the border. Or even the migrants who come from places that I know – a few blocks away from where I have been in Seattle or a mile or so from where I live in Denver or DC. How ridiculous to think I am a lonely bridge between two planets.
I live across the fence but hardly far enough for God to not be the same. Hardly far enough for the basic human condition to be any different. Hardly far enough to have a monopoly on joy or on pain.
As hard as it seems to traverse the gap, in both worlds I laugh and in both worlds I cry. In both worlds I pour my heart out as I learn and grow in love. In both worlds I am called by God. And in both worlds He is present.