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FLOATING ON THE 1301I A Tejana from Nebraska finds her way home. BY BELINDA ACOSTA MY FATHER WAS BORN in Xilitla, a speck near another speck in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. To hear him talk, Xilitla is heaven on earth. The women are lovely, the men are strong, and the children always well behaved. The food may seem simple, but it was always delicious, plentiful and filling. The monkeys that gathered above the terraces where my grandfather once dried coffee beans were friendly and, goshso witty! Even death was beautiful in Xilitla. When it came, it was painless and clean, and the subsequent assent into heavenbecause everyone in Xilitla is good and honestonly required a few gentle pulses of angel wings. Xilitla was heaven and heaven was Xilitla, my father insisted. The differences were imperceptible. Because I am my father’s daughter, I indulge him in his gossamer nostalgia. Like a kid stealing sips of rum and Coke at a Mexican wedding reception, I like the warm feelings it brings. It’s one of the few pleasures he has left. Parkinson’s disease ambushed him six years ago, ending his dream of building a house and retiring in Xilitla. He talks less about everything now, but mention Xilitla and his eyes come alive. I was born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., long before Mexicans were as visible as they are now. When my father’s obligation to the U.S. Air Force ended, he and my mother decided to leave the citrus groves, palm trees and cacti of South Texas for the cottonwoods, prairie grass and four seasons of Nebraska. They thought it was exotic. Though I don’t “look Nebraskan,” I’m a Midwesterner. I’ve never been THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG