Growing up in Nashua, I had Dominican friends, Puerto Rican friends. But I’d never had a Salvadoran friend. Before I met Julio, I had never heard of El Salvador.
My husband came over here on TPS [temporary protected status] when his country was in civil war. We were neighbors but I never saw him. He worked all the time. Sixteen-hour days. Then I started taking care of his daughter while he worked, and we had this weird connection. It was like meeting my best friend. We became inseparable. He’s really old school. He literally cannot not work. He has six kids to provide for.
I don’t like who’s in office now. I want change. We’re worried Donald Trump wants to take TPS away. We want to save up $10,000 and drop it on a piece of land in El Salvador. That way we can be close to his family if he ever goes back. What happens if TPS is taken away? It’s more or less hypothetical, but we are trying to plan ahead.
Money is really tight. I just got a job in a retirement center. My husband doesn’t have many contracting jobs because of the pandemic. And now winter’s coming. He’s lucky if he works three or four days a week. Materials aren’t able to get up here as fast as they used to. The flow is all messed up.
We just had two kids in the apartment with COVID. That was definitely an experience, I’ll tell you that. We all quarantined for 24 days. I had my son stay in the storage closet. I gave him a TV, his PlayStation, and a heater. I was the only one with PPE because of my work, so I was literally suiting up to feed everybody and disinfecting the house with Pine-Sol, washing the door knobs.
I feel like I’m losing my mind every now and then. There are times when I know I am depressed and want to sleep all day. But at the end of the day, I’m a mom. Everyone relies on me. I can’t sleep my life away. There are days when I can’t sleep because I’m so stressed about what tomorrow will bring. Families like us, we worry about every day.
I just hope we can all get along as equals. I don’t see a difference between me and my husband just because we’re from different countries. We raise our kids the best we can.
Nicole Avila, 36, lives in Manchester, N.H. Meg Bernhard is a writer based in Boston.