On the day after Election Day, I took a walk in the rain. I stopped to grab an iced coffee, almost on autopilot, because my mind was on other things — I was wondering where I belonged within the shift America had just taken. Since then, I've been asking myself: This has always been my home; why does it sometimes feel so foreign? What now?
Too often over the last few months, I've had to comfort people in my life that I would have never thought needed comfort. I reached out to friends after the first Muslim ban was issued, because somehow this was a reality on a Saturday in February 2017, an attack on minorities.
On a Saturday in March, with a little cousin piled on me as she played video games, I spoke to my aunt about their Summer plans. Their family was accustomed to regular visits to Ecuador during the Summer, but this time around would be different. They weren't comfortable traveling internationally because, despite being residents, they were afraid they would have trouble reentering. Too often, at home, I've watched as my family listens to the news and speaks on how volatile the nation's immigration policy is.
The feeling I get while in conversation with my family now — the worry they feel, how cautiously they watch every step they take, how much they're paying attention — it's reminiscent of conversations I heard growing up about the government in Ecuador.
The parallels I draw between what I know as Ecuador's government and the current presidency, they're frightening. A country we all used to feel safe in, the only country most of my aunts and uncles really know because they've lived here since they were kids — the notion that this country is a little less theirs now, it's nonsense.
But I do what I've always done for them — I translate and I bridge. I'm as American as I am Latina, and I'm not blind to the drawbacks and privileges both offer me. I shed light on immigration updates as I learn them. I take it seriously when the worry is so present, and together we find ways to calm fears and ultimately speak reason to fear.
When I ask myself "what now?" I still can't find the larger answer or action I can take, so for now I try to steer conversations away from fear, one family member at a time.