Writing on the border between yes and no, between love and violence, between life and death. This is the second part.
Continued from the last post Part 3
The yes of my birth tells the beginning.
In the middle of a July desert day in 1964, I made my way into life through the messiness of human birth. I glimpsed out into a violent world still reeling from the assassination of a young US president. Born in Mexico under a dusty sun, I can only picture my birthplace in my imagination. The town has been lost from my memory. I first saw light within its limits, and its shapes and colors are missing from my memories. Although, I know the town’s name, Parrel. Parrel’s medical clinic provided the time and space to the first yes. The place of my last no is still unknown to me. Death remains a mystery.
Between first yes in Parrel and the last unknown no comes a multitude of both yeses and nos, and the quality of our life nails itself to our creative responses to the yeses and nos of life. I am no different; I perceive the pull of peace (yes) and drive of violence(no). I live in tension of love and sin. Yet, I am convinced in the triumphant of love. The life provides the final yes called love. I am convinced that love forms the structure of life, that God became man. A man among other humans, I strung up on life’s crossbar of Yes and No, waiting for Easter morning. How do I respond to my birth? How do I respond to the reality of my death? These questions weave the strands of my life into a story with a known and unknown destination.
My heart aches for a home, and a nation where I can belong. I grew up on the border of two cultures. The country of my birth, Mexico fell into my reminiscences. I long to remember her and her old women slapping corn meal into tortillas with a rhythmic slap, slap, slap. I recognize her words as they pass me on the city streets. I speak her words but not her fables. I live in the United States. There I found love. The Tinajero name found recognition in Tucson after my father moved there; a town I have only been a tourist. America’s dreams inspire me, although they remain an untouchable mystery. Pulling-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps idea eludes me, hiding as violation of nature.I see both as I look across to the different riverbanks. I move along the river only touching down each bank for a short stay. I look for words to build a home.
We travel through the lost worlds in each phase: baby becomes a child, who becomes an adult, then old age and death. Each become a disappearing world. The movement of time keeps me from belonging. I can’t inhabit either national story.
The world at my infancy was busy confronting its own possible demise in a field of atom-splitting clouds. I tasted, in the desert’s heat, the flavor of life within my mother’s milk. She held me tight as I cried in my first bits of air. A world that I could barely make out in its various shapes was pretending innocent for a generation of postwar kids. My birth was last gasp of those hopeful idealists. The early sixties hopefulness played against violence present in all ages. Those times bathed in fresh blood: murder, genocide, and war. Just a few decades before my birth, the Nazis made factories dedicated to murder. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading a movement to free the US from a generations old blind stupidity. As my mother caressed my small head American’s were just learning to pronounce, “Vietnam.” I cried with my first breath, while a generation of intellectuals shouted at each other in numerous conversations about death: the death of the novel, the death of Art, the death of poetry, the death of God, the death of love, and the death of man.
Uncle Sam and the Red Bear did battle on a global scale for domination over ideology. Even as my mother showed me off to the rest of our family, the Peace Corp sent out it first young idealists committed to changing the world. Bomb-shelters, and youthful idealism created the era’s adaptation of human paradox. Yes and no continues to play with the destiny of humans. I was unaware of the human condition with my first burping; I knew only strange sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes I could yet name. This world passed on, and we moved to different problems. I had to learn my first and second language s. The time of navy blue suits, thin ties, beehive hairdos did not last, but the context of violence still remains. The poison of nostalgia lays in forgetting the river of blood flows through each period and culture.
Yet, love moves beyond nostalgia.
(To be continue in part 3) Part 1