Hello! I’m Francisco “Pancho” Ramirez, from Michoacán, Mexico. I came to the USA at the age of 17, in March 1999. I arrived at my sister and her family’s house in Sonoma, Ca. I stayed with them for a month, or two, I’m not sure, worked for a couple of weeks in the vineyards, and then, headed towards Washington State. My father and two brothers were over there, so I thought, I should be with them. I arrived, I don’t know the exact date, it was April, or May, in a little, deserted, ugly town, called George, Washington. I got to their home, a tiny little one and not very accommodating, I was happy to see them again, but I was, sort of regretting, leaving California. However, as ugly as the town was, or I didn’t find the house comfortable enough, there was no way back, I had to get used to it.
I worked in the apple fields, in Washington state, apples are everywhere, just like here in California, grapes are! I was behaving during the first year there, but my brothers went back to Mexico, and I was left alone, well, my father was there. I was driving already, and starting to get to work by myself. I didn’t have a choice, I guess, my father had to go to work too, but not at the same place. I started to make friends, unfortunately, and started to drink, I used to drink when I was back in Mexico, so it wasn’t a new thing. It started to be a little too much, and it was getting in between my father and me. We I left the house and went to live with my friends, just a few yards away from where my dad was. Shame on me! I should’ve left far away and kept myself from embarrassing him.
I spent about four years in Washington state. Then, in 2003, I decided to try my luck back in California. It was the first month of the year, I’m not positive, January, or February 2003, maybe! I came down and stayed at my sister and her family’s house, again, for a few days. I was able to locate a friend from the same village, as I am from, in Mexico. We had a very nice conversation, reminiscing about our past while we were in Mexico, GOOD TIMES!! I explained to him my situation and my wish to find work and a place to live. I am living with my sister, I told him, but I don’t want to be a bother too long, even though they said, I could stay with them forever. I understood, he said, He was living and working in Windsor, California, and invited me to join him. I thought that was a great idea, but what about work? I asked him, I don’t know California, yes! I do know, he said. I’m going to ask my boss to give you work and allow you to live in the apartments of the company, as well. Do you live in the apartments where you work!? Of course, bro!! O. M. G!! I got very excited and without hesitation, I agreed to go with him. Hold your horses! I have to ask my boss, first, don’t get excited just yet, he said!
My buddy went ahead and asked his “Patron” about me, unfortunately, he had no space available at the company’s apartments, but he did give me a job. He told my friend, I could work for him, and then when one of his employees moved out, I could move in right away. We loved the idea! My friend had an uncle, living in Santa Rosa, 15 minutes away, and he worked there too, he told my friend, I could come in to live with him and his family, while I was waiting for an opening. Super! I moved in with his uncle and family. They were very nice people, I was very comfortable living with them, but the opportunity to go with my brother, from another mother, showed up, so I left and join him. We were doing good, working a lot, typical in the US, but we loved to go out and get wasted, literally, living check by check…