Grapevine

immigrants, UNT, graduation, students, Spanish

Barbara and Ana

Barbara and Ana: Sisters

The two sat on a bench facing Denton City Hall. After interviewing Megan, I walk around the building and spot Gloria and Gladys but decide to interview them afterward.

Barbara is social, but only if she likes you so make a good impression. Ana says Barbara won’t talk to people she doesn’t like them, preferring to avoid them. Ana seemed shy throughout the interview and let Barbara do most of the talking. I figured I’d let the two (mostly) speak for themselves.

Barbara and Ana: Dialogue

Barbara and Ana became best friends two years ago while students at the University of North Texas. Below is the transcription of how the two met to introduce them and so you can read how the interview went.

“We got some baked goods and decided it was nice and then the wind started,” Barbara says.

“[We are] just friends,” Ana says. “Really good friends.”

“JUST friends, I’d say that we’re sisters. Chosen sisters.”

“We met through a mutual friend who we don’t hang out with in our apartment because we lived together.”

“She didn’t talk to me the first time and…”

“You were really awkward!”

“Apparently I was really awkward.”

“She was really awkward. Really awkward.”

“As opposed to now…”

“Anyway.”

“After that, I don’t know where I saw her.”

“Political science.”

“One of those really awful intro political science class at UNT full of freshman.”

“When you’re not a freshman.”

“Right, and then she was like, oh this person is not crazy…”

“Well because we no longer hung out with her.”

“It all worked out. She ignored us, in a good way.”

Barbara and Ana: Educated

Barbara will graduate in May designated Summa cum laude with a major in international security and diplomacy and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. Ana, studying business, has a year left.

“Whenever people ask me [what do you want to do after you graduate], I just want to pour out this long, complicated existential answer for them. They’ll be like ‘alright dude, you don’t know what you’re doing.’ No, I’m applying for law school. I don’t think that’s going to work out so I might just …see what happens. I’m not sure…” Barbara says, nervously snickering. “She has more of a plan than I do,” Barbara adds quickly to change the focus.

“What! I have no plan. I’m going to graduate and work in the business world. That’s not a plan. Well, my dad works in the business world so I have connections I guess. We’ll see where that goes. Someday I want to own a bakery so anything in between is just getting me there,” Ana says.

“We were staking out the competition. That’s really what it was. They thought we were going there just for muffins.”

“We should do some chemical analysis and see what they put in there.”

For now, Ana is a nanny and Barbara is unemployed, having just finished an internship at the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Have you ever seen the Devil Wears Prada? That minus the Prada,” Barbara says. “So I’m glad that that was over. It taught me that even though people have these titles Former Ambassador of Whatever doesn’t mean they’re good people or educated for that matter. Some didn’t know where Ukraine was.  But as far as a job goes, I’m looking at the bakery right now. It’s another way of infiltrating and getting their secrets.”

Ana: Origins

Ana, from Grapevine, is originally from Puerto Rico and mostly grew up there. Her father, who worked at a Spanish bank in Puerto Rico, was transferred to Chile where she lived through the ages of 7 to 10 and “it was beautiful, but the people are really cold and very superficial so it’s kind of hard to fit in right away.”

She has lived in the “Fifty States” for nine years now. The native Spanish-speaker learned English in Kindergarten and by living here, her accent disappeared.

“Finding out my grandfather has Alzheimer’s was my worst moment. I’m close with him. I don’t really talk to my dad’s side of the family so my mom’s parents have been the only grandparents I’ve really had and have become more like second parents for us. Being the youngest makes it harder because he’ll forget me before everyone else. He lives in Puerto Rico.”

She doesn’t like her father’s side of the family because they are “very rude and not very nice to me”

Barbara: Istanbul

I was in Istanbul for a wedding for my friend Mehmet Kalyoncu. He is from Istanbul. We met four years ago when we were at St Hugh’s summer school at Oxford University and became Pen Pals and talked about life and had a lot in common. I hadn’t seen him in three years. We had just been Skyping and he was like, hey, are you coming to my wedding? Which is a really big honor and I don’t take that lightly.

So I headed on over there for five days. Saw the city by myself for the most part and with his sister. We’ve actually become better friends than he and I were so it’s opened up a plethora of other people I could meet.

It was the last day and we went for a night on the town. My flight was at 6 a.m. and I was like, why am I going to go to bed. I can do that on the plane. I ended up spending a lot of time with his sister, Sena and her husband Selim while I was there. We went to a hookah cafe, takism square, and then a little food cart to try this delectable burger featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”. It was awesomely delicious!

And we were all just hanging out together and it was that moment where you’re lost. You’re just nowhere in particular and everywhere at the same time. The brevity of life at that moment of the fact that I had met people I really connected with on a soulful level but wasn’t going to see again was something that should have been sad. Instead, I was okay with the indifference of the universe like it’s going to be okay.

But I have that moment here. Have you been to the square at 3 a.m.? It’s the best time because everything is quiet since they drunk people aren’t out. I think these moments are the best, when you’re among friends, loving life, talking about food and music and there’s something magical about that.

Back: Barbara, Sena, Selim; Front: Mehmet and his wife, (Photo Courtesy of Barbara)

Barbara and Ana: Immigrants

Both are first generation Americans and feel that part of their bond comes from shared experiences. Barbara is also fluent in Spanish, her parents Maria and Manuel Castro emigrated from Mexico.

“I study business and I always knew I would study business. Everyone in my family started college studying business and I’m the only one who stuck through with it, but I made it logical to where like, I eventually want to own a bakery,” Ana says.

“My dad always said he came over here with five dollars. He worked at Braum’s, as a carpenter, picked corn, everything. For him it’s all a reflection. The immigrant’s daughter always has such a hard thing that they have to do. If I’m like, I’m going to go to Europe then my parents think I’m going against the plan. He’ll be like, I came over here to give you this great thing and you don’t even want to live here or be lawyer?” Barbara says.

“I just realized why I get along with you so well. They think it’s easier for us when no, it’s just as hard.”

“They buy the American dream more than anyone. My parents are more patriotic than I am. But if they say something and I try to explain that it’s not actually like that get really…” Barbara shakes her head and both hands to finish the thought.

“You can’t explain it to them. They’ll go against you,” Ana says.

I spot Gloria and Gladys and make my way to them.

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