I love the way this guy writes. It’s like we were born kindred spirits. This article brings back some many memories of El Paso, Texas, where I grew up and of the people around me at back then. We considered ourselves ultra cool vatos locos!
Thanks, Agustin for bringing back those times fraught with risk as they may have been.
I believe that it is important that those of us who have chosen to stake our life far from our aboriginal land we call home to make a concerted effort to return and experience the nostalgic moments of our upbringing. It gives us the opportunity to make connections between different time periods and events that have shaped our lives and those of the ones we left behind.
During our childhood years we accumulate numerous experiences that may be discarded or archived in our memory bank. Feet on the ground visits to our hometown often spark moments of reminiscing that would not be reveled otherwise. It is for that reason that I make it a point to return to my beloved El Paso as often as I can. Not only do I anxiously look forward to seeing my siblings but I also need to douse myself in the culture, language, and culinary delights that depict my heritage. The whole experience of my visits are often like time travel, chaotically swirling in my mind and attempting to chronologically sort itself to create a epic story of my days gone by.
When the day of such visit arrives, all is packed, arrangements made, siblings notified, and transportation set. The blue, yellow, and red bird of man’s creation lifts with great and graceful force, soaring through azure hued skies, dotted with pristine white clouds that look like flowing soft cotton as we rise. Mindless chatter is heard as if from a vast distance, some prefer to read, and still others close their eyes and digress to a sound sleep. On flies the bird, mile after mile ever changing the landscape below. From the green of forest to the blue of glistening lakes and rivers, on to streaks of brown, purple, orange and sights of mountains reaching up to touch the sky. We are closer to home and my heart starts beating livelier in anticipation of our arrival. The bird finally starts a gradual descent magnifying the welcoming ground below. We roll on the huge black welcome carpet and cruise to our final destination-home.
Our son is waiting and ready to take us and our luggage as we start the first episode of a long awaited visit. His smile and hugs tell it all, he has missed us. The transformation of visitor and traveler to citizen has begun. “¿Que paso, mijo, como has estado? Muy bien. Let’s go. We will go drop off the luggage and go get something to eat. How about some Chico’s Tacos? Mijo, do you have to ask? Let me call your Uncle T so he can join us.” “Hello. Ese, carnal. Que paso, bro? Nada, we’re in town and going to Chico’s, meet us there. “Orale.” He replied. The nostalgic visit suddenly submits to the vernacular of those days of old.
“Ese, Kaluli (my brother’s barrio nickname) have you run in to any of the homies? Some, ese. I saw Gaby, Tony, el Devil, and FaFa at the funeral for el Reyes. Have you seen Shorty or Viru? I think Viru retired from the Post Office and Shorty is still in prison. Que aguite, that’s too bad, carnal.” Just then I hear from behind,” ese Gus.” I see this white haired old man with a beard that I didn’t recognize and I just replied, “que paso, homes?” As he left I asked my brother who the guy is. He chucked and said,”you don’t remember el Sevollon? He retired from the Secret Service. He and Pelon were in the Secret Service, both retired. Pallin is an engineer and his sister Yoya is a medical doctor. Que loco, ese. One never knows how things will work out.” The rest of the week went along the same lines while visiting friends and family. The food was to die for and beer flowed freely. There is no place like El Chuco, to grow up or visit. You can take the Vato out of the barrio but you can’t take the barrio out of the vato.
Going back to the future leaves a small void in your heart but clearly, it has to be so. We board the blue, yellow, and red bird again. The bird ascends, contrails plotting the departure in the sun drenched sky. As we proceed the terrain turns from desert to lush grounds of green trees and rivers. The guys are all scattered now. Memories are the only things that keep us bound. Some have realized a better life than the others. We all had the same opportunities, some were blessed more than others. One thing for certain, all were loved by God, not one over another. It is inevitable that one day we will celebrate our reunion in the presence of our creator. It is sad to acknowledge that some are already waiting for us. The trip back to the world is quite a bit longer than usual and this barrio kid feels a lump in his throat and a cleansing small stream of moisture dancing down his cheek. God bless us all, homies.
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