I met my wife when we were 21 and we got married in India. Her dad had moved to Dalton, Georgia on a visa and was attempting to bring his four daughters to the United States as well. My wife stayed with me for three weeks after we got married, then she had to leave for the United States because her visa came through. She left in 1994 and filed my visa application, then we waited five years until I was finally able to come to the United States in 1999. We spent five years apart. I landed at the airport in Detroit and was excited to finally see my wife but she could not get off of work to pick me up. During those five years she held various jobs such as a factory worker, Taco Bell cashier, and worked at a laundromat. Her uncle picked me up and took me to his motel in Inkster. I did not know what to expect. The idea of the United States in my head was always of shiny things, opportunities, and riches.
When we got to the motel in Inkster, her uncle told me to take the mattresses from the third floor, bring them down the stairs, and replace them with the new mattresses they got. I single handedly carried these mattresses and replaced them for 18 rooms in the outdoors property. It was freezing, I did not have a winter coat for the snowy month of January. I watched the snow fall as I replaced the mattresses, and felt my fingers slowly turn a light shade of purple. After the 14th mattress, I sat on the stair and just cried, this wasn’t the American dream I imagined. I realized at that moment that I would have to really work to make anything here. After five minutes of crying, I got up and went to get the 15th mattress.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.