Portrait of Marcos Leon

“When my son is with me I feel good.”

Marcos Leon works in carpentry and construction.

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Photo by Jennifer Baker

I’ve been here for ten years, since 1995. I met my wife in Costa Rica. She is American. I was 38 at the time, and was living with my mother, sister, and nephew. We married in Costa Rica. But then her grandmother died and she was sad and wanted to go back to the U.S. She was scared her mother would die too.

I didn’t know how hard it was here and how bad the police are with people from other countries. My neighbor would say “go back to Mexico” although I am really from Costa Rica. My son was born here. I hated my father because he left me and my mom so I try hard to be a better father. My mom’s grandfather had given us a big house and my father took the house and sold it and took the money and left. My mother was struggling alone. She paid rent and food and for everything.

I work doing carpentry and construction.

After we came to this country, my wife kicked me out and I started to drink. I was very depressed. She made me sign papers for divorce. I flattened the tire of her boyfriend’s car, so she called the police. And then they said I was resisting arrest. I was in jail four months. And she had a restraining order. On my son’s birthday, I went to her house and put a soccer ball up by my son’s window for him to see. Then I was in jail for another three months. I worry about my son and I want him with me, but I still get to see him every Friday.

My wife remarried after we were divorced only three months. Maybe when my son is 18, I will go back to Costa Rica. I was very close to my nephew; he was like my son. I took care of my mom before I left. But when I left Costa Rica with my wife I forgot about helping my mom. We went back two times to visit my family. My wife talked badly about my sister. My sister was alone and struggling.

When I came to this country, my first impression was that it was a scary place. I remember crying saying goodbye to my nephew. I have a green card, but now if I leave the US I can’t come back again.

I feel good alone – not with another person. I fight a lot. I feel like “don’t push me.” My son is the same. My son speaks English. I try to teach him Spanish.

When my son is with me I feel good.

Portraits of People on the Move tells the stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants through their own words on the Supperdance.com blog and was first shown as an exhibition June 25–28, 2015, at the Gray Area of Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition was created as a companion work to Supper, People on the Move by Cardell Dance Theater, a dance inspired by themes of migration.

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