I was in an Uber at 5:25 this morning, on my way to that most benighted of airports, Newark. I generally try to stay away from places adjacent to Maximum Security Prisons, but the flights to Corpus Christi were most convenient from New Jersey's finest.
I go to Saltillo, of course, with mixed feelings. It is where I spent the best summer of my life 41 years ago. But it is far, far in the past. The visit also produces for me a fair amount of anxiety. I will be with the boys again--guys I was with when I was just 17. We will all be a year older, a year fatter, a year further estranged from the sinew of youth.
I also have trepidation on seeing again Teresa, Hector Quesadilla's widow and my surrogate mother from so long ago. She is now 88, and since Hector's death on New Year's Eve 2014, her health, too, has declined.
But I go.
I go through the industrial sump and the swamp. I go to Saltillo, through the desert, to my long-ago salad days.
It was a small serving of salad, I'll admit. But all I have.
I'll go for the memories of youth. For the bonds of friendship. For the chains of obligation. For the requisites of filial obligation--to see Hector's widow, my Mexican mother, Teresa.
I go because time moves in only one direction, and your past disappears like a candle burning out and sometimes all you have left is the wisp of smoke as it vanishes.
I go with a sore right shoulder. I go with work pressure looming large. I go with my spikes and my glove and with what's left of my muscle and eye-hand.