When I came to the United States, I arrived to an East Los Angeles neighborhood. I arrived around ten at night and it was dark so I couldn’t really tell what it looked like. Entering the city was a shock at first. We were in a taxi and I remember there were a lot of lights, a lot of lights! I had never been in a city in my life before. I was so impressed. All I saw were lights! Everywhere, I saw lights. I remember seeing this huge tower of lights and was shocked to see that they turned out to be buildings. I thought “What is this; What is this madness?” It was incredible; It was like a dream. Cars were everywhere! I had never been on a freeway before. Everything was like new to me. It was overwhelming. I remember sitting next to my mother in a taxi and feeling like the woman sitting next to me was a stranger; a very familiar stranger but never the less a stranger. I knew who she was and I felt love for her, but her physical presence was uncomfortable. There were a lot of conflicting emotions going on in those first minutes in L.A. When we finally arrived home the first meal I had was pizza hut. It was left over pizza hut. I ate pizza hut for the first time in my life and it was amazing. To this day, it is my favorite pizza. It’s the only pizza.
I also met my younger sister for the first time. At first she was shy because she didn’t know who I was. She knew that she had an older brother and I had spoken to her over the phone for a bit but she was only 4 years old. I was a stranger to her. My first memory of her was of her sleeping on the couch while ate I pizza hut for the first time in my life.
It was culturally shocking in a way because I went from a rural place to an urban setting. That was a shock! The fact that I saw streetlights, traffic, noise, buildings—being an urban setting, that was shocking to me! But it wasn’t shocking in a bad way. I didn’t necessarily feel out of place. I liked it a lot. East Los Angeles is predominately Mexican, and Mexican-American and that wasn’t shocking. A lot of people speak Spanish; a lot of the stores are in Spanish. You can literally approach almost anyone there and speak Spanish and you’ll be fine.