My life is a chip in your pile. Ante up!

You may or may not have noticed that I have not been well as of late. I suppose that it would be hard to observe this directly, as I have not been complaining excessively about anything in my life. Truth to be told, I think I have been in a slight depression. My recent excessive catboxing may be an indication of this. Some things have not been well. And now I have been given a risky opportunity to improve everything. The question is, how much of a gambler do I consider myself?

I need to explain something of my situation. I am twenty-three years old. I was born in Mexico City, and spent nineteen years there. For the past four years, I have been living in Montréal, Canada, working on my university degree. This summer I graduated with an honours degree in mathematics. I strongly want to go to grad school and do a masters, except that I have debts with the university and my younger brother that prevent me from going right away. I first need a well-paying job. University grants and scholarships are not going to cover the full extent of my debts.

Compounded with these difficulties is the question of national affiliation. I'm a foreigner living in Canada, one of many, and I have developed a sincere love for this country, particularly for the Quebeckers, for whom my plea is forgiveness for my not yet perfect French. I'll still be able to hold a conversation with you, don't worry. To them and the rest of the country, I congratulate you. Your national identity, your symbols, your sense of humour, your people, your diversity, your two official languages and countless unofficial ones in the larger cities, your writers, your poets, your natural landscapes, your oceans, your open amiability and friendliness, your relaxed attitudes and political opinions, all of it, all of Canada, how I wish I could call it my own too. When living in Canada, no other country in the world seems quite good enough for living.

I have been spending this summer working on a research project for a professor, looking for a job so that I may stay in the country, and spending time with Talia, whom I met the first week of summer. She has left today to spend a year in New Zealand. This had been decided before we met. What I thought to be a summer fling turned into something passionately more intense. The separation we knew was inevitable is starting to take its toll on my happiness, and perhaps on my health too. I have been sick for this past month. Coughing, tummy aches, and recently fevers and nausea. Yesterday I went to get a chest x-ray and some blood tests. Hopefully the doctor can find out what's wrong with me.

I have also been so far unsuccessful on my job search. True, I had other things to worry about, and perhaps I haven't been concentrating enough on finding employment. But without a job, I cannot stay in Canada. First, because I can't afford it, and second, because the government won't allow me to stay if I am a burden. So I am more or less forced to move back to Mexico, back to my parents' residence (actually, my mother's, probably), and to try my luck finding a job there. Talia also knew at the beginning of summer that this could possibly be my eventual fate. We took the plunge anyways. Fools rush in, I suppose.

It is this prospect of going back to Mexico that makes me so unhappy. Not that I wouldn't want to see my family again, to be back in my country and be a full citizen again instead of a foreigner. But I would be going back defeated, lovesick, unemployed and in debt, and back to being a dependent. I don't think my mom would let me contribute to the rent if I moved in to her apartment, nor am I sure that I could contribute. The upside is that I will be spending less money in Mexico, and that I have better chances of finding a job there because my family knows people who know people, and because I would again be part of a certain Mexican aristocracy that knows how to take care of itself.

My mother understands the downside and wants to salvage my pride as much as I do. This is why she has consulted with businessman friends of hers and yesterday proposed the following: putting her car as collateral, she will obtain on interest a loan of appreciable size, which she will give to me. I am to use the money to live for another two months in Canada looking for a job and to begin the paperwork towards becoming a permanent resident (one of the reasons I haven't started the paperwork for residency is that the fees are more than I can pay at the moment). She believes in me, and the way she puts it is that after spending all those thousands of dollars on my education, this investment (she's going to invest on me!) is insignificant in comparison. I have proven myself over the past four years by getting a degree in high standing, she believes. Don't throw out the cake because it's missing the cherry on top, she says.

And it's not just a matter of pride. Love factors in. Love for the country and love for Talia. I will have a better chance of seeing her again if I secure a foothold in Canada, instead of dropping to my Mexican safety net. I've been given an opportunity to use a stronger pickaxe as I strive to climb to the top.

This is very, very exciting. This offer has knocked me out of my malaise. Just the idea of spending two months in a dedicated job search, with no other distractions, nothing else to do but search, search, search, with a degree from a reputable university, well, this all makes me very hopeful and determined. I think I can do it. It would be a fighting chance. Perhaps I should take it.

And a risk it is. The stakes would be piled higher. Double or nothing. Double the penalty if I fail, and double the winnings if I succeed. To become a full Canadian resident with a well-paying job, or to return twice defeated and deeper in debt. Time is running short. My parents need to set things in motion either way very soon. They have given me until tonight to make a decision.

I want to take it. I believe in the gambler, the risk-taker, the adventurer. I'm a hopeless romantic. I believe in good fortune for those who strive for it. I believe in Canada, that she will help me if I help myself. I am optimistic, a dreamer anew. I can make it happen.

Whoa, hold your horses right there, buddy. Back to reality. I asked for my brother's opinion. Though younger than me, barely nineteen, he is also wiser than I in practical matters. He is the one working on a degree in business administration while I get the one in abstract mathematics. He recommends that the risk is not worth it. Come back to Mexico, your family misses you, odds are in your favour over here. His opinion carries a lot of weight, because he has proven his ability to amass small fortunes for a variety of personal purposes, because he is one of my creditors, and because he is my brother, damnit.

It is an interesting problem. I am split. A very important decision is coming up, almost here already. Fortune favours the bold? Or better safe than sorry? Am I feeling lucky today?