Sometimes I drive through streets I’ve known since I was a child, trying to look at them as an outsider might. I’ll flip compasses, pretending East is West. With the sun at high noon, you wouldn’t be able to tell. I try to see something new in scenes that have filled my eyes since I stared out school bus windows, bumping down dirt roads.
The llanterias have the same old men sitting outside on worn out sofas, chewing the fat, waiting for flat tires that need patching. Women shoo stray dogs from displayed wares along streets, makeshift garage sales luring customers with fluttering second-hand school uniforms. Kids crowd streets after school as they chase soccer balls in impromptu games.
I wonder how outsiders might view these same events, wonder if it’s something completely foreign or comfortingly familiar. My Army brat status was traded in early, and I only half-remember Fort Mead in Maryland or Laughlin Air Force Base near central Texas. Other than day trips into Mexico, I’ve rarely left the Valley.
Part of me longs for different horizons, something other than rolling hills that spread out into endless fields lying fallow, something other than stunted mesquites and giant nopal. Part of me knows that no matter where I might roam in the future, this one-horse town will always be home. Most days, I’m okay with that thought.