Page 23


i vron vo v iir .4vvr AtI rmrinea Tsen g riga i tIl i r rIr ov9 v m 0+hot mcx ;r; N-i.ievivr,pg lit Whole Earth Provision Company I Nature Discovery Gifts amaze, inform, delight Choose from our business or family gifts of lasting value, for all ages, price ranges and any occasion. Call or stop by and let us make suggestions. i t. 2410 San Antonio St. 4006 South Lamar Blvd. 8868 Research Blvd. *1:164,1;4,,,c;r:x i 40….2kg. ,..Qaasixso -mize2uhiatauvAemealcuamaY THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 clean and never hungry. We had birthday and graduation parties and things like that, but there was another hunger that had to be fed. There was a hunger I didn’t even have a name for. Was this when I began writing? In 1966 we moved into a house, a real one, our first real home. This meant we didn’t have to change schools and be the new kids on the block every couple of years. We could make friends and not be afraid we’d have to say goodbye to them and start all .over. My brothers and the flock of boys they brought home would become important characters eventually for my stories Louie and his cousins, Meme Ortiz and his dog with two names, one in English and one in Spanish. My mother flourished in her own home. She took books out of the library and taught herself to garden to grow flowers so envied we had to put a lock on the gate to keep out the midnight flower thieves. My mother has never quit gardening. This was the period in my life, that slippery age when you are both child and woman and neither, I was to record in The House on Mango Street. I was still shy. I was a girl who couldn’t come out of her shell. How was I to know I would be recording and documenting the women who sat their sadness on an elbow and stared out a window? It would be the city streets of Chicago I would later record, as seen through a child’s eyes. I’ve done all kinds of things I didn’t think I could do since then. I’ve gone to a prestigious university, studied with famous writers, and taken an MFA degree. I’ve taught poetry in schools in Illinois and Texas. I’ve gotten an NEA grant and run away with it as far as my courage would take me. I’ve seen the bleached and bitter mountains of the Peloponnesus. I’ve lived on an island. I’ve been to Venice twice. I’ve lived in Yugoslavia. I’ve been to the famous Nice flower market behind the opera house. I’ve lived in a village in the preAlps and witnessed the daily parade of promenaders. I’ve moved since Europe to the strange and wonderful country of Texas, land of polaroid-blue skies and big bugs. I met a mayor with my last name. I met famous Chicana and Chicano artists and writers and politicos. Texas is another chapter in my life. It brought with it the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, a six-month residency on a 265-acre ranch. But most important, Texas brought Mexico back to me. In the days when I would sit at my favorite people-watching spot, the snakey Woolworth’s counter across the street from the Alamo \(the Woolworth’s which has since been torn down to make anything else I’d rather be than a writer. I’ve traveled and lectured from Cape Cod to San Francisco, to Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Mexico, France, Italy, and now today to Texas. Along the way there has been straw for the taking. With a little imagination, it can be spun into gold.