By Patrick Alcatraz
McAllen, Texas - One of my friends says I have the record for shortest visit to the Texas-Mexico border. That came - what? - some eight years ago, when I spent a half-hour in Brownsville downriver and just couldn't stand being there. They never let me forget it, although I've been back and had breakfast and supper there, and even a few beers at my favorite bar, the 1-2-3 Lounge on entirely-elegiac 14th Street. But of course my friends do not know that it isn't just Brownsville or the RGV had spooks me. I once spent an hour in Albuquerque, ate well, and hooked it back to Santa Fe just because it struck me that a guy like me should never abandon the one town that always loved him. The RGV? It's love/hate with me, absolutely.
I love it because I have family here, and I hate it because it forever disappoints me.
I have been here since the Holiday Season past this time. Friends have risen from the sidewalks and from the tables in the back of the bar. I've heard much more shag-me border music. I've gulped down more than my share of booze and super Tex-Mex food in small restaurants from one end of the valley to the other. An occasional stop at some of the "local" eclectic gathering places, such as Sahadi's in McAllen, where it's okay to be well-behaved, has been in the mix. Stay with me. Don't get mad. I enjoy the RGV more than I dislike it. What kills me is that the roll of the region is all too slow, as in what can happen won't, or if it does it's always done in the manner that it's been done here forever. Aggravating, is what I'd say about that. As for the lovely humans here, well, as the song says, doo-doo-do-do, de-dah-da-da. What that means is that what I hear when they speak is gobbledygook, i.e. things said don't always mean what they would seem to mean. But one adjusts. I'm no longer good about returning phone calls or text messages, even though I never really was good at it. Voicemail is King here. I get a lot of that. One woman always in the hunt uses it exclusively. What a waste of Life, is what I say. But she's semi-cute, so I make allowances.
Family and the desire to write something new brought me back. I spend a lot of time with my family, and I try to write something everyday. But the inspiration stream here is too thin and it stays away a tad longer than what I feel, say, in my beloved Santa Fe, where the people are friendlier and forever eager to mingle. In McAllen, the calling card is a gun or a frown or, it would seem, the elusive letter of reference from a member of the family of a woman who may sort of interest you beyond the carnal exchanges. It is, however, yet another slice of humanity, civilization elsewhere, here along the hardscrabble Mexican border.
We shall see.
Things have a way of defining themselves, of molding the rough edges. Who knows? I know I've stayed longer than I thought I'd stay. I'll be gone one od these days. That'll give me an opportunity to reflect on my months in the Rio Grande Valley. Not that I admit to having a "Caring" gene in my body, but it'll be one test. What I fear is that I have the "Leaving" gene; that is, that I would rather depart than arrive. My history would indicate that to be more the case than not. We'll see. I'll be in touch...
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