With poor job prospects, and feeling unsafe in her native country, Adriane decided to leave Brazil and follow her mother and brother to the states in 2003. Crossing the border from Mexico into Texas proved a challenge, especially the last three days without food and water, a place to sleep, and only a trash bag to keep her dry during a major downpour. Crowded in a van with 11 other Brazilians she made her way to Boston in borrowed men’s clothing—her height demanded it—and she fell into the arms of her mother who had sold her car to finance her daughter’s trip. A dishwasher by day at Legal Seafoods, Adriane would return at night to clean the restaurant. From there housekeeping jobs began. Today in business for herself, Adriane has more than 30 loyal customers —a thriving business that employs several workers. In 2019 Adriane became a U.S. Citizen and is a proud and grateful American.
With poor job prospects, and feeling unsafe in her native country, Adriane decided to leave Brazil and follow her mother and brother to the States in 2003. Crossing the border from Mexico into Texas proved a challenge, especially the last three days without food and water, a place to sleep, and only a trash bag to keep her dry during a major downpour. Crowded in a van with 11 other Brazilians she made her way to Boston in borrowed men’s clothing—her height demanded it—and she fell into the arms of her mother who had sold her car to finance her daughter’s trip. A dishwasher by day at Legal Seafoods, Adriane would return at night to clean the restaurant. From there housekeeping jobs began. Today in business for herself, Adriane has more than 30 loyal customers —a thriving business that employs several workers. In 2019 Adriane became a U.S. Citizen and is a proud and grateful American.
Coming to the U.S./01:59
Deborah: My guest is Adrian and she is from Brazil, right?
Deborah: Okay. What year did you come to the States?
Deborah: Yes. When was it that you came?
Adriane: September 28, 2003.
Deborah: September 28th, 2003. So tell me a little bit about your journey. What made you decide to come here?
Adriane: My mom, she came first 1998 she was so happy to live here. And then in February of 2003 my brother he came and I was in Brazil. Not a good job. No opportunity to be successful. I decided to ask my mom, so she could help me to come to America and she said OK. She sold her car to help me to come here. So I came came from the border. I flew from Brazil to Mexico and I cannot say I had a hard time crossing. But I took 7 days to arrive here.
Deborah: From Mexico.
Adriane: Yes. And four days we had a food and water and then.
Deborah: What happened the last three days?
Adriane: Yes, exactly.
Deborah: Tell me a little bit about it. If you don’t mind.
Adriane: Two days before I arrived here, we were in Texas waiting for the van to come take us to Boston. And this house where we was to sleep. Two days before we come to Boston. I think we were about 15 people between Brazilians and Spanish and I arrived on September 28. Was a beautiful day. My mom was here waiting for me and my brother so when I arrived here I was dressed as a man.
Adriane: Because my clothes I changed with another guy because I was so dirty because we were crossing the border.
Deborah: The border.
Adriane: And well that’s my story.
Deborah: So you found men’s clothing and you are very tall, so I’m sure.
Adriane: Wow. That’s so funny. Who gave you that?
Deborah: Who gave you the clothes? The men’s clothes?
Adriane: Yeah, this guy was with us. We was a group. He had the extra.
Deborah: Oh, this was the 15 people that were in the van.
Adriane: No, just just 11 in Brazil.
Deborah: Okay. That’s still a lot of people in a van.
Adriane: And the van and yeah you can imagine that.
Deborah: Wow. So you, you arrived and your mother saw you and you were dressed like a man.
Adriane: And she laughed, “What’s going on with you? Why you look like a man?” Nothing to do. My clothes were so dirty I have to change because I’m tall.
The Hardest Day/06:07
Deborah: Right? Amazing. What was the hardest day from the time you left Brazil to when you got to Boston? Was there one day special? That was just so hard?
Adriane: One day it’s so hard. I felt sick. Because we spent so many times lying on the ground and talking. Because there’s nothing to do just wait for the right time to cross. This day was so bad for me and in the evening it started to rain. I had a black big plastic bag so I could get in the bag.
Deborah: To stay dry.
Adriane: Yeah, exactly.
Adriane: Yeah. It’s terrible day, but I’m here.
Deborah: That’s good. That’s great that you’re here. And you became a citizen. How long did that take to become a U.S. citizen?
Becoming a Citizen/07:16
Adriane: I start my process in 2012, and I got my citizenship last year.
Deborah: Yes, I know. I remember. 2019.
Adriane: Exactly. Yeah.
Deborah: In the fall. Did you have obstacles to keep you from getting your citizenship from 2003 to 2012?
Deborah: What some of the obstacles?
Adriane: Wow. I think my marriage.
Deborah: Did you get married after you came here or before?
Adriane: Oh, I got married after in 2009. I met my second husband in 2008 and we got a marriage in 2009 and it’s not a good marriage, unfortunately.
Deborah: Do you have children?
Adriane: Not with him? Thank you, God. He’s American citizen.
Deborah: So being on your own. Were you like a single parent here in the States? Like you had children, but no husband?
Adriane: Yeah. Yeah.
Deborah: What was the happiest day so far are that you can remember since you came to the States?
Adriane: I took six months to get a good job. I went to New Jersey. I lived in Newark, New Jersey and I worked in Legal Seafood restaurant. I worked during the day as a dishwasher and at the night cleaning the restaurant.
Deborah: Wow. Long day!
Deborah: What brought you to New Jersey?
Adriane: A friend because it was so difficult to find a job. And he was going to New Jersey and he invited me to go with him. My mom went back to Brazil in February and in March I went to New Jersey to start the job there, but I didn’t like. I was so tired work. I worked in the morning. And go home sleep and go back to the Legal Seafoods at night to clean. It’s really hard.
Deborah: Too much.
Adriane: And then on May I came back with the same guy. He was tired too to stay there. And I came back with him and finally I got a job as a housecleaner.
Deborah: And how long did you do that before you started your own company?
Adriane: I started my own company in 2009. I had two friends. The one friend she was thinking of going back to Brazil. And she said, “I like my customers. Do you want to take them?” So I said “Oh, that’s good! I can do that.” And she went back to Brazil. I had five customers. I started with five.
Deborah: Pretty good. How many do you have now?
Adriane: Now I have more than 30.
Deborah: Wow. That’s amazing.
Adriane: Yeah. And I start with five. It’s not the same all the time because some people maybe don’t have money so they can’t afford and stop the cleaning. Sometimes they move to another state. Things like that happen.
Pandemic Slow Down/11:06
Deborah: And what’s been happening since the coronavirus outbreak? How has that had an effect on your business?
Adriane: I have really, really nice customers. They are not customers. They are friends. They’re really good and I try to do my best. And they help me alot. Most of them work from home and they pay and they can help me and send me the check or cash.
Deborah: Even though you’re not actually going to their house and cleaning.
Adriane: Exactly. Yeah. Even I’m not cleaning for them.
Deborah: Good faith, good faith.
Adriane: They send me cards that say, “Oh I miss you.” I have a customer she’s in Randolph, and she send me a check and a card and says, “Oh, I miss you. And my cats too!” And I say, “Okay, me too.”
Deborah: Wow. That’s wonderful that you have such dedicated customers. That’s, that’s great. And that they become your friends. I asked you a question earlier, but you didn’t answer it. I asked you what was the happiest day that you can think of.
Adriane: For now what’s happened now?
Deborah: Since you came to the States, I’m sure you’ve had many happy days, but think about maybe one in particular that you can tell me about it. It can have to do with your business. It could have to do with your family. It could have to do with anything.
Adriane: Well that’s so many so many days like that.
Deborah: What stands out? Does something pop into your head?
Adriane: I think when I applied for my daughter. I applied together with me. They made a mistake and I had to cancel her application for the green card so I get so mad about that. Because family is a family. And I was expecting to have her with me. This day was terrible. And I think when I lost my mother-in-law three years ago. She was living in New Hampshire. My ex-husband put her in a nursing home and he was in jail. That’s why I divorced him.
Deborah: I see.
Adriane: We make a mistake in our lives, so of course we not expect for that. But because some times you don’t know each other. He put her in a nursing home and every two weeks I had to go there and pay all the bills, clean the house, visit her in a nursing home. And she passed away three years ago because she got so upset.
Deborah: Were you close with her?
Adriane: Oh yeah. Yeah. Very close.
Deborah: So what happened with your daughter? Were you able to make a new application?
Adriane: Yes, she was supposed to be here almost a month ago. Her flight was canceled for many days. She’s in San Paolo right now. She’s waiting when the airports can open so she can come. It’s crazy.
Deborah: How old is she?
Adriane: She’s 26
Deborah: She is 26. So when you left Brazil to come to the States and make your journey, did you leave her behind?
Adriane: Yes. Yes. She was with my, my ex husband and I have a two sons.
Deborah: Wow. How old are your sons?
Adriane: The old one is a 32. The other one is 30 and she is a 26 and I have a grandson eight years old.
Deborah: Oh, wow. So do you go on the computer to see them or do FaceTime with them?
Adriane: Oh yeah. Yeah. I know WhatsApp.
Deborah: That’s great. But your daughter, your daughter is coming though. Everything is the application is okay.
Adriane: Yes everything’s okay. She had an interview in February and she got a visa when she arrives in here they going to check and how say when it get accustomed?
Deborah: Oh, through customs.
Adriane: Yeah. When she arrived at the airport and they going to check on a computer and see everything’s okay. And I have to apply for her green card when she arrived.
Deborah: Now that you’re a citizen, you can do that.
Deborah: That’s great.
Adriane: Yeah. But when she comes here, she comes with the visa. When, she got here, I have to pay, 2000 or $2,220. For her green card.
Deborah: Oh, okay.
Adriane: I have to do online.
Deborah: So when I asked you the happiest day, were you thinking about the day when she arrives will be the happiest day?
Adriane: Oh yes. When I got my citizenship first when I got my green card and then my citizenship. Now I can see I’m improving my English. I have so many days I can say happy days more than bad days and the sad days. Right?
Deborah: So the good days are outnumbering the bad days.
Deborah: What are some of your dreams about the future?
Adriane: Now I have to think about my retirement. Oh yeah. I’m so close. I’m 53 now.
Deborah: You’re very young. You’re young fify-three.
Adriane: But at 62, I think it. That’s retirement, right?
Deborah: Well, you can start getting social security because now that you’re a citizen, you can. So, did you bring anything with you from Brazil that you still have today? Like, I don’t know maybe some little thing. One of the people I talked to brought her doll from when she was five years old. She still has it.
Adriane: Yes I have.
Deborah: What did you bring?
Adriane: I have now? I think I have, yeah, I have four because of I lost one —little rocks, colored rocks.
Deborah: Where did you get those in Brazil? Was it near the water?
Adriane: Yes. Yes. In Brazil.
Deborah: And why are you attached to them? Why did you bring them?
Adriane: Because we were at the church starting to pray. We have some dreams. And we started to pray for our dreams and they was given each Sunday service they were giving one little rock. This could be a dream. And I didn’t finish. It was seven Sundays. But I didn’t finish because the fifth I came!
Deborah: So you have four rocks or five?
Adriane: I have four but I lost one. And I have them with my stuff.
Deborah: When you think about praying about the future, do you look at the rocks? Do you bring them out?
Change in Plans/19:39
Adriane: Yeah. I came to stay just for five years. Sometimes you change your mind.
Deborah: So you were planning to stay here just five years?
Adriane: Yes and I saw more opportunity to stay here and be someone here. Make a difference. I saw the opportunity to be a success here.
Deborah: What are you the most proud of in terms of your successes that you’ve had? I know you’ve had a lot of successes, Adrian.
Adriane: Yeah. I’m proud for this opportunity. This nation gave to me. I know I am an immigrant but I know I can feel free here because in Brazil it’s so dangerous now. We can’t walk in the street. We cannot feel safe at home. And here we are more safe. We can work. We can make a difference. I’m so proud to live here. That’s why I love to live here. Because I have this opportunity to do something, to get the community. Now I can vote. That’s so important.
Deborah: Well, we’re certainly proud to have you be an American, which you are a United States citizen. You were an American before, because you were from South America, but this is to be an American citizen. It’s, it’s wonderful that you feel that way. That pride.
Adriane: Yeah. I’m so proud to be here.
Deborah: What would you tell somebody who’s thinking about coming to this country? What would you say to them for advice, what to do? What not to do?
Adriane: I say the truth. Some people come, just dreaming. They don’t know the truth. It’s not easy to live here. It’s not like in Brazil. Here, the money how can I say, if you don’t work, you cannot buy anything. You cannot have nothing. The money how can I say, capitalist nation.
Adriane: Yes that’s right. I can tell them, “If you want work you come. If not, you’re lazy. You cannot be here.”
Deborah: Yeah. If they’re lazy, don’t bother.
Adriane: Because if you come here you know you have to work hard because we are immigrant and we have opportunity, of course we have. But I cannot have if I’m not legal, the same opportunity the legal American citizen has.
Deborah: But you do now.
Adriane: Now I can. But I say to people, “So, you have to work hard if you. Don’t be lazy! Lazy here is not welcome.” But it’s true.
Deborah: In other words, what you’re telling them is if you come to the United States, don’t think it’s going to be easy. It’s not, nobody’s going to bring you success on a golden platter. You have to work and you worked plenty hard for it. My goodness. And you continue to.
Adriane: Some people when they get here, they want to start at the top. We have to start down and go up.
Deborah: That’s good advice.
Adriane: I start like that down. And now I’m up. And so many people start down and now is up.
Deborah: There’s that opportunity to do that.
Adriane: We have so many opportunities here so we have to hug that!
Deborah: Hug it like put your arms around, even though we’re not supposed to touch, touch anybody or anything right?
Adriane: Now, we can’t.
Deborah: How do you feel about what’s going on with the virus? You think it’s going to pass? You think things are going to change? What do you think about it? Are you frightened?
Adriane: Yeah. I believe in God. That’s why I know everything’s gonna be okay soon. Because it’s hard now but it’s going to pass and everything’s gonna be normal again. So we can be together. Family and co-workers. Friends. We can go out and see the sun and see people. It’s really hard now with so many people dying. Oh it’s terrible. And stay home! It’s terrible because we get so tired to stay home. Right?
Deborah: It’s true. And we eat too much.
Adriane: Ah yes, exactly. We’re gonna get fat!
Deborah: Well, it’s, you’re so such an optimist. You, you really have a very positive view and in class you are always smiling and willing to jump in. So I appreciate that. Is there anything you want to ask me about anything?
Adriane: No. Do you have more questions?
Deborah: Well, I want you to send me pictures of your rocks. Will you do that?
Deborah: Thank you so much, Adriane.
Adriane: You’re welcome.
Deborah: Really lovely talking to you and I hope to talk to you soon. Bye bye.
Deborah: Adriane takes nothing for granted. First her green card and then her citizenship paved her path to independence. Her positive attitude endeared her to many clients who sustained her during the pandemic lock down when leaving her house to clean for them was out of the question. Still their checks and cash came through the door as a sign of their loyalty and a tribute to Adriane’s hard work and commitment to them.