There was a lot of it.
The kind you might –no you could actually like. Well, at least I liked it. Okay, at least sometimes I liked it.
And sunshine. There was so much of of it bouncing off everything. Bouncing off the dirt, and bouncing off each single particle of dirt the occasional breeze would sweep up and stir around, sometimes right onto your face and into your hair.
And Concrete too, there was so much around there that was made of concrete. Some rough, some polished, some stained.
The homes were constructed with cinderblocks. On one side of town these would lie in the horizon grey, as in overcast Gloomy Sunday grey. The mortar pattern between the rectangular stones was never smoothed over. I think that was deliberate. In some way it showcased how much of a “concern” they had for conservation of resources. The homes, some were the colors of the Mexican pastries I remember from my childhood, yellow, pink, lilac, blue, orange, green. Sweet, and pretty, and bright like flowers, or candy, or children’s toys. But, quite a lot of homes were left unpainted. In fact, actually, most were, except for the coating or two of caked on dirt.
The latter were the homes owned by the poor. But that level of circumstance and status, was middle SES in comparison to the poorest of the populace. The latter homes did have four walls, these were complete and unbroken wooden palettes if so fortunate. Cardboard boxes disassembled and woven through the splintered wooden palette boards to make for insulation. Or, privacy at the least. The luckiest among the poorest were able to cover their tiny 4 walled shelter with bits of flattened out tin extracted from garbage. Floors were standard for these families, dirt.
This place I visited once a year. My parents would drive us up in the summertime vacation to the place of their roots. I was always excited to be somewhere in the world where I felt surrounded by more of nature, than that of the city environment back home.
Once summer, I was finally allowed to buy a clear plastic, acrylic-like material yellow toy slingshot. It had to be yellow. Yellow was warm, exciting, fun, and most importantly: my gold. I couldn’t do pink, eew! Those were sold too, red, white, purple. My two older brothers had blue and black. Once I bought a green one. It just looked like it was made of a Jolly Rancher, sour apple green candy and after all, it was a good backup in case my brothers decided to take my yellow one and hide it, or worse, through it away in the dirt.
I wandered around alone. As near to my brothers as I could, but on my own. They called me a tomboy. They called me a stupid girl. They called me fat and ugly. They yelled that I’d never have friends because I liked to play with things boys played with. When it was they who, when in good moods, would invite me to join them in the fun with the Star Wars action figures and play with them! Then a moment later they ostracized me. I hated that they did not want me around them most of the time. I always knew it was their loss, I had so much to discuss with them. For instance, how wrong it was that they would take their slingshots, aim at my great grandfather’s sheep and goats’ testicles and shoot. They were savages out there. What they did was barbaric, and not only because the goats had feelings, even though their eyes looked creepy, demonic really, it was still wrong to make them suffer. My brothers disrespected my grandfather’s livestock. Idiots. They were such simple idiots. I wanted to push my brothers, I wanted to knock them down, their proud, pretty, praised boy faces into the dirt.
I wandered around, tracing their footprints, whenever they’d sprint to get out of my sight in a flash. But they underestimated me. They always underestimated me. I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t wander off too far, just in case. I wasn’t afraid of walking alone. I too, had my yellow weapon for self defense. If David could do the trick against Goliath with exactly what I had, why need I worry. Besides, Jehovah had my back. I knew this because I wasn’t a savage like my brothers. I respected His creation, his creatures, even the creepy, demonic-eyed goats. I resisted the temptation (in imaginary competition with my brothers) to aim my slingshot at an animal. Nice, large targets some animals were. I knew I had the All-mighty God’s gaze upon me. Instead, I wandered around. I explored, I surveyed the ground with my eyes for the most rounded, smoothed, small stones I could find. I collected my ammo in my pockets, after I’d wiped off the dirt.
Every now and then, I would feel the urge to test my aim. I felt so confident now vision improved with my Sophia Loren glasses. Yes, I was only a child, but I liked them because they were smart-looking. And I was so smart. Not that everyone had noticed, save my father who reminded me almost daily how inteligente´ I was. He wouldn’t even use the word smart. He used a bigger word to impress me. I knew since then I had to impress him in return. This was my most cherished thought about myself, while I strolled through the old Mexican ranch named “Rancho Nuevo” meaning “New Ranch.” This reassured me how self confident and independent I should be. Not that my brothers’ deliberate wandering off too far would let me forget. But, as I thought of my father’s regard of me, I smiled, reached in my pocket and, to prove to him how right he was I’d take a stone and place it in my slingshot, aim at a glass Mexican Coca Cola bottle on the ground up a few yards ahead, pull back the rubber bands far back as far as my elbow could reach back and release! The sounds of the bands’ elastic retraction and the sound of the stone hitting right near, very close to my target’s bull’s eye, the red square logo label printed on the bottle, but missing the glass bottle altogether and instead hitting and digging with momentum, into the dirt.
I had plenty of temporary flashes of disappointment like that. But it was all private. I hadn’t any witnesses. I’d just reach into my shorts pockets and retrieve another, and then another, and yet another, until I hit my target and could hear the sound of the near cracking but mostly dinging noise echoing off the old abandoned piece of litter.
I could hear them coming. Whenever my brothers were returning there were always name calling and discord. One was always being blamed for scaring off that jackrabbit, or the ring neck dove just at reach of a better aim. I would watch them approach in my direction, which was near my grandparents’ because I was still afraid to wander off too far, alone. There was this one guy who we were all warned about. He was “el loquito.” I think I saw him once at a distance. But I didn’t stick around long enough to confirm with my sight, his description. It was enough for me to have my brothers return and tell us about their near, almost victories out ‘hunting.’ The had the most disappointed expressions on their faces every time they said “casi papi! Ya mero!¨ “Almost dad! Just about!” It was good that they did not get their way after how they treated my great grandfather’s goats while the adults discussed adult life over coffee and steaming hot corn tortillas my great grandmother, abuelita (pr. Weh Lee Tah) Lupe, would make each morning. And afternoon. And evening. She’d serve them with fresh aguacate (pr. Ahh Wow Got Hey! That one’s mine, get your own!). It was the kind of avocado found in Northern parts of Mexico. A peel so thin, shiny & smooth, nature intended for you to bite right in! You might even add a little salt, but first of course, wipe off the dirt.
These memories, I don’t know where they came from. Rather, why they suddenly unearthed. May as well have stayed buried, after all, they are just as boring –having had to have read through these lines –as boring as staring at any old pile of dirt.
Now, that’s something you can at least stare at and watch it grow.
From out of the dirt.