Becoming a U.S. citizen: a letter to my parents

By DIVA PAREKH | November 2, 2017


COURTESY OF DIVA PAREKH Parekh resides in Baltimore but grew up in Mumbai, where her parents live.

Dear Parents,

I just applied to renew my green card. The next step: I’ll apply for citizenship. Fingers crossed, I become a citizen. You’re not moving here with me, and I wouldn’t want you to. You’ve already given up enough of your lives for me. I don’t plan on coming back. All my life, I never did.

So there’s a truth we have to face here, and it’s that we’re probably never going to be in the same place for more than a month at a time.

All we have left is those two weeks of winter break when I have to juggle you with my friends and figure out who I want to spend each precious day with; those short summer breaks when I come back home between jobs and internships.

We’ve been fighting a lot lately, haven’t we? You’ve noticed that too, haven’t you? Is that why you sound so afraid on the phone — you’re just permanently afraid of starting another fight?

I’m not going to get into those arguments here; I didn’t write this article to criticize you. I wrote this article because I’m afraid too. I’m afraid because every time I talk to you, it feels more and more superficial. If we’re not fighting, we’re making small talk.

When did that happen? When did you turn from the people I’d tell everything to, the people I’d laugh with, the people who were my only friends when no one would talk to me in middle school, to the people I talk to about the weather?

Remember when we’d watch cooking shows together and squabble over that last piece of dessert? Dad, you’d always give up and let me have it. Mom, we always fought till the bitter end, till sometimes that piece was on the floor with chocolate sauce all over my pant leg.

We still do that when I come home, but — I don’t know — it just doesn’t feel as real anymore. The memories feel more real. Mom, I miss sitting in the car after coming home from the bus stop and just not going home yet because we were talking in the car for hours.

Dad, I miss how I’d make you read all the books I liked and watch all the shows I liked and how you’d love them even more than I did. I miss listening to music in the car with you. I miss the ridiculous jokes at the most inappropriate times.

It’s not like it’s all gone, though. We have our new traditions. Every night I land, you make Indian street food for me. When I come out of the airport, you run toward me because you know I never wear my glasses on flights, and I can’t actually see you until you’re right in front of my face.

Sometimes you’ll text me in the middle of the night asking me how I am and asking when you can call. Then I call, and I hear it in your voice. I hear how much you miss me. I miss you too, so much that writing this is making me cry. I know I chose to move here and I know how much that hurt you.

I didn’t want to talk to you until I wrote this article because I didn’t want to fight again. I didn’t want to write this angry. It’s been a week since we last talked, maybe more. And I know I told you that you don’t need to check on me every day, but I was stupid.

Because for a week, you didn’t check on me. You didn’t call. You didn’t text. And that’s when I realized how easy it would be to just fall out of touch. Do you know how strange it is that you don’t know the names of every single one of my friends? Do you know how empty it feels when I can’t tell you something because I’m afraid it’ll start some stupid, shallow argument?

You’re probably going to wonder what the point of this article is. Well, you tell me. Tell me how to fix this, because I miss you. I miss being part of your life, and I don’t want you to stop being a part of mine.

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