Sagundo barrio, El Paso – July 14, 2009
Needed a trip to see someone “rich,” get to my home, my ‘hood, the epicenter.
A day -part of a day- in Americaland was enough for me. Felt sick. Left wobbly. Everyone comes to that place where you’ve got to weigh the illness of your certainties against the “healthiness (or lack of it)” of your insecurities.
I head to the pueblo.
No one bothers me.
What do I see? Why? Why here?
I never see dignity in the halls of academe. I see cleverness (not so clever). I see “accomplishment,” by those who define what it is, oblivious to 95% of how the rest of the world defines it and them, or so it seems. How did these institutions become what they are? Empty vessels that steer the dialogue, get the final word with the kids, set them on their self righteous journey (at least until they can, if they’re lucky, outlive it, until some of the rest of the world comes and nibbles at them, or worse).
I have rarely -but once in a while- seen dignity in the oficinas of industry. But, sometimes.
I have seen a crapload of dignity in the factories and mines and hospitals and construction sites, I have seen good outcomes in the faces and quiet living of the viejos that gather in this park to watch the Boys Club heroes run and spin until I can’t imagine it, their quiet and grace like anchors against a storm, the babies rolling by, healthy, quiet, pretty, the young mommies pushing them, the pretty girls barely able to distract the futbolers, the circle of life that is the certitude of this barrio, and slowly and surely and mercifully, the overlay of the lie of our society is rinsed away from me, like industrial hand cleaner in a mechanic’s shop.
Cuts right through it.
It’s the difference between Heaven and Consumomerica: night and day, a different era, a different set of realities, not lost, never were lost, not anxious about being found, don’t need to be found. The certitude of this circle of living, right there, in the ‘hood, where people live and grow and then move on, right there, on Seventh and Sixth and over on Hills and Tays, no scratching out someone’s eyes to “get there,” maybe a lot of scratching to get by (but we all do) no over extension, paranoia and stress that leads to words coming out of you that are not your own, or, worse, thoughts.
But don’t tell all that to anyone in this park, because they already are living life, not looking for it and don’t tell them, over there, over there, beyond, in this image, up there, in those big buildings on the horizon, north of that freeway, beyond, in those neighborhoods where it is rare to even see someone on the sidewalks and streets, them: They might want to see how to get more “rich.
They might want to figure out how to come into the ‘hood and get some of that mojo.
You can buy it, can’t you?