A Varying Border
grandparents, stoic behind them. I cannot begin to even guess at the life they must have led then. One of constant labor, sun burnt skin, coarse dirt and pebbles, their eyes looking out-white amidst the darkness of the picture. And underneath it all, the struggle with identity, and the lies beating like a heart inside. When my grandmother was in her teens the river overflowed and erased, once again, the lives of our family. After the flood, the town of wooden houses and farmland was completely gone, only a few foundations left tO suggest there was anything there before. This was the opportunity my greatgrandparents took to travel south, like many other Americans; they too would travel south and become part of a growing America in El Paso. The pictures stop here. Whether they are missing or were never taken I cannot say. I can only assume that something good came out of this move. That there was some prosperity to it, some glimpse of solidity in the fictitious heritage they had created. Much later, in an Aunt's house I come across a picture of my grandparents in their twenties. My grandmother dressed for nursing school and my grandfather in his border patrol uniform. These jobs would take them from Texas to California a few years later, where the family would be reborn again, creating new realities for my family to believe in.
THE STREET I GREW UP ON AND THE STREET my parents still live on is a onelane road of early 2Qâ€˘h century bungalows. Much like the neighborhood, the street was built on a plan that did not involve traffic or account for cars traveling in opposite directions. Cars meet here between lines of cars parked to either side, each driver having to find his own place to pull in, whether it be a driveway or merely just reversing back up the street in order to let the other car pass. I grew up here, one block up from Interstate-S, between wooden houses built on cement foundations. We lived in a two-bedroom house with two tiny yards that my mother planted with raspberries, blueberries, pear, and rhododendron. The yards so packed that it was possible to hide among the stalks of raspberries, or behind the broken cement wall separating one neighbor's yard from our own. The neighborhood was filled with other couples like my parents, couples caught up in the freedom to be whoever they were. Like my parents, they were couples running from Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, overbearing families of faith and restriction. They were the children of California, of New England, of the Midwest, all of them trying to start something new. These couples bought houses like ours, houses with rotten floorboards, rusted nails our parents placed hard Styrofoam over, sealed in duct tape. Houses that sagged at the roof, growing green lichen between the shingles, paint chipping, and screen doors that creaked loud enough Summer â€˘ Fall 2006
The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho