Monday, July 01, 2019

i'm in el paso for a short vacation. to be blunt, one kid was having a hard time at home, always needing stuff, and my wife thought it would be good if we got away. she was right. we went to a baseball game, and stayed overnight in a hotel. by we: me, and both sons who are still at home. a short trip away from home. a cool motel room, a pool, a fitness center.

i don't feel like the kind of yuppie who is out to enjoy all his money quickly, and traveling around just dropping the cash at will. on the contrary, i'm scared. i went to the hearing aid place and found my hearing way down. my son, i feel, is on the edge. the bill goes on a credit card i'm afraid we can't pay. the car's oil light shone and i filled it; that was a success; but it has over a hundred thirty thousand, and the trip back is over hundred-degree desert wasteland; i don't look forward to it, especially since it will be early in the afternoon.

last night, in the evening, we parked in a fashionable rehabbed part of the city and walked to the baseball game. the game was between the el paso chihuahuas and the fresno grizzlies. for some reason the chihuahuas were wearing neon greenish yellow uniforms that said "margaritas" and the scoreboard made it appear the game was between the tacos and the margaritas. it was some sort of promotion, no doubt, but the people in the stands were mostly wearing red and black, with hats with insignias of a fierce chihuahua. the team's normal colors were clearly red, black and white and there was some red, black and white pride going on. the game was pleasant, but it was over ninety in the shade (a "dry heat," they like to say around here) - and the evening was clearly a better time to be out than the daytime. in the daytime people rush around in newish cars, shut up against the heat, going up and down this one road we've come to know, with lots of businesses and restaurants on it. it's a conservative city: people work hard, make money, protect themselves against the heat.

so the stadium was about half full, and the chihuahuas were going around in these neon uniforms. it was a good game; the grizzlies got out to a big lead but the hometown boys closed it up and made a game of it. the people around us were almost all mexican-american families. my son bought a water for $4. i was mad as that's kind of amtrak prices, but, what are you going to do? we bided our time. the families near us had these kind of taco constructions that looked huge, and, given the price of water, were probably $20. at one point the margarita guy came around and stood in front of me as he served a margarita to the woman next to me, for $13. he had three in his tub; they were carved out pineapples, full of fruit, and soaked to the top with margarita, apparently. she gave him a $20 and he reached into his pocket with his wet hands to get change. one of them tipped over. margarita fell all over the tub. he was embarrassed, but, that's the price of business. one way or the other, they were going to enjoy their evening.

the chihuahuas lost, but it was a fun evening. our car was still there when we got back to it. the lights of mexico glowed from across the river. i consider taking the boys to mexico, something i've always wanted to do for all my kids, and have done for some. we may or may not. one side of me wants to take the advice of every shuttle driver: stay away from juarez. another says, this may be your last chance. we would walk. we would stand on a bridge across the two countries.

the car has oil; the long desert is in front of us. right out of the city, you get into new mexico, and it gets pretty empty. i've come to not feel threatened by that, though. there are people around. it's like getting stranded in the middle of illinois.

you can't make a kid happy, though, if he's suffering inside. i have a couple like that, and i'm at a loss. here i am, losing my hearing, yet what i want, more than anything, is a little peace, kids who are ok with who they are and what's going on around them. television and xbox will only go so far. mexico may not change things; they barely know what they're getting into, and besides, we'd barely step over the border, even if we had plenty of time. we do have plenty of time.

that sopping wet fruit is an image that stays in my mind. it was like cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, not sure what all was in there. i'm sure they soaked it up pretty good. it was an evening in the borderlands, with signs like "paso del norte" around. everyone's bilingual; that's not an issue. maybe what's happening in clint or tornillo is an issue. you don't hear about it, though. everyone's polite, and ready to take your money. if i could get used to the 100 degree days, it would be easier.


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