When it comes to understanding why things happen a certain way, I tend to look to the past, the journey my environment and I have left for the world to see. I’m a 23-year-old undocumented, aspiring writer. I came to the United States when I was fourteen, thinking I was going to live in a fancy house or apartment just like in the Macaulay Culkin’s movie “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” Well, that dream vanished as soon as I arrived in a cold December day to a three bedroom apartment that I had to share with another seven people.
I admit it wasn’t the worst place, but it was something new compared to my old house, where I had my own spacious bedroom, a backyard and boundless hours of fun. School was tough, I’m sure most of you who came here after the age of ten know how it feels to not know anybody and specially, the language. Months passed and the immersion to the new country was somehow smooth. But there was something missing, as I grew older I wanted to stay connected with my homeland, I wanted not to loose the string. Even though I lost contact with most of my family and friends very quickly, I wanted something that would remind me of the aromas, the colors, the sounds that wrapped me growing back in Chile.
Years passed, and unaware of the magic of time, I was a junior in high school. Towards the end of the year, we were assigned an ambitious paper for my English class that involved some research. I went to the local library thinking where should I find some works about Shakespeare (believe it or not, my last time in a library was four years before, back in middle school). The librarian seemed trustworthy at the beginning, but her violent eyes dissecting my walk as I approach her desk made me uncomfortable.
Looking through some endless stacks of books, all of a sudden, there I was, standing in an unexpected section and at the same time an astonishing bundle of Spanish literature collection. I grabbed the first book in a somehow reflexive, involuntary action, as If I knew what I was doing. I read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in a matter of days. That day at the library liberated me. I was satisfied to have found the re-connection I was looking for. The library became a utopia, it marked the beginning of a new experience. Three years before I made a life changing journey to the United States with my family, ironically, that day at the library, I was beginning a new journey. This time I was by myself, the life of a poet was bursting.
I’ve decided to share part of what I intend to be an autobiographical novel of my life as an undocumented artist in NYC. My passion for literature sprouted abruptly very late in my teens and I believe it’s a direct response to my experience as an undocumented (considering I wanted to pursue a career as a meteorologist at first). I’ve read many biographies of artists, scientists, politicians, and intellectuals in general, only to find a similitude among them. All came to be what they are or were because of a “life changing event.” Many were immigrants, captives, and even undocumented (escaping from wars, dictatorships, corruption, poverty, etc.) like many of us. But they all managed to succeed in life, contribute to humanity and leave a legacy for future generations.
Today, I invite any undocumented photographers, painters, actors, musicians and artists in general, to illustrate their experience as undocumented through art. Let the rest out there see the reality of thousands of people in the United States. Let’s be the active voice of the ones that don’t have one or simply don’t know how to manifest and be heard. Perhaps we can contribute to a movement that might be noted in history textbooks fifty years from now.