Ecuadorian Immigrant Challenges My Words
“The corruption was so bad…I couldn’t handle it anymore,” he told me when I asked why he left. He sold his printing business there as he went on to invent himself in a new life in northern California. With a job in hand working as a supervisor for a construction company, Boris (yes, he had a Russian name) felt like he was not really taking a risk.
“How do you pick up and create a new life…leave everything behind,” I asked him. “You’ve got to be incredibly courageous,” I offered.
He smiled, met my eyes directly and, with customary modesty, told me I was wrong: “No, I’m not courageous: I got on a plane with my family…the people who are courageous, the ones who travel on foot through Mexico to get to the United States, those are the courageous ones. In Spanish, we don’t use the word ‘coraje’ much; instead we use the word ‘valiente.'”
His accent was thick but his smile was genuine. “Valiant,” I thought: a word that rarely gets used in the English of the U.S. He had me smiling, too.
It made me think about writing this blog post: is it courageous to choose divorce? Or, is it valiant? The dictionary provides definitions that include “stout-hearted, brave.”
So, this isn’t just rhetorical: I have an answer to my own questions (for once!). Yes, to get divorced is courageous. To stay married is courageous. To get married, in the first place, is valiant.