Thursday, January 24, 2013

the facts about my upbringing

Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed regarding the Old West, "Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas."

in new mexico, in san miguel county, there is a little town called las vegas. it is split in two by the gallinas river. i used to swing on weeping willow branches over the muddy water. on the fourth of july i decorated a bike with red and blue tin foil and road it over the small bridge that spanned west and east.
the racial makeup of the city is 54.21% White, 82.94% hispanic. skip the other numbers. those are the ones that mattered.
there were probably about 14,100 people when i lived there.
we had a wal-mart (no mall) and a gas station called alsups that sold chimichangas and coca-cola. the biggest building in town was at the university. it was called simply "the high rise", and it was 9 stories tall.
there were pow wows at the gym. there were traditional hispanic dances and spanish songs. there were plays in the summer.
there were the monsoons, and you could see them coming from miles away. june through august, dark clouds thunderous and mounting in a brilliant azure sky. at summer art camp,after a morning of tye-dye or paper making, i would watch the sidewalks disappear in a matter of minutes. for a desert, we got a lot of water in the summer. in between, it was dusty. in the winter, always snow. enough to inter-tube, enough to play snow ball catch with the neighbor's dog, gordie.
there were gangs, and robberies, and everyone was poor. there were ghost stories and monster trucks. when i went back, things were the same. they tore down the high rise. but they have not replaced my old elementary school's playground equipment in 18 years. there are gelled hairstyles and hot springs and barking dogs and lowriders.
if las vegas could change, i am not sure it would. if could do anything differently, i wouldn't.

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