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Sulu Hain International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar it But 2008 was the year when border life changed. The Mexican drug cartels pulled out all the stops in their struggle for power over one another and over law enforcement. Authorities unearthed mass graves. Children found beheaded corpses outside their schools. Narcos gunned down entire smalltown police forces. Some news stories bore datelines from the highway between Juarez and Chihuahua, the road we would take to Las Nieves. Could I protect my mother if something happened? Was it fair to take her when she no longer understood the risks? I decided to postpone. We would go, I assured her, after the violence died down. I believed then that the bloodshed would end quickly. Now, when I go to El Paso to be with my mother, I feel as if I’m only halfway home because I cannot muster the courage to cross the border for even an hour or two. I find myself inhabiting a destierro of the spirit, an exile from my parents’ homeland and my cultural heritage. I wonder: Will the violence abate in my lifetime? Will I ever be able to return? drowning, who would make her way from the river to the barranco behind the houses to sweep us off to a watery death. I was about 10 when my grandparents moved to a larger house on the corner ofI can’t tell you exactly where. This is where my fear comes in, fear of the beasts killing law enforcement officials, politicians ABOVE: Beatriz Terrazas and her mother PREVIOUS PAGE, LEFT: Beatriz Terrazas’ parents walking down a Juarez sidewalk in the 1950s. TOP RIGHT: A group of kids in front of Terrazas’ grandparents’ home in Juarez. BOTTOM RIGHT: Terrazas’ grandmother, with the author in the background. PHOTO COURTESY THE AUTHOR LIKE MY MOTHER’S FAMILY, my dad and his brothers migrated from near Chihuahua city to Juarez in the 1950s. Some of them, like my parents, became American citizens. They set up house in El Paso or a few miles north in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Others stayed in Juarez, Mexican citizenship intact. Either way, they defined home by sangre, by the geography of heart rather than nationality. Hogar y familia subsisted where life was nourished by two cultures and two languages. The international border was a line that separated our family, but that we crossed to connect the two pieces of our lives. During the week, my parents worked, and my brother, sister and I went to school. Weekends, we drove across the river to visit my father’s brothers or my mother’s parents and siblings. My father had lost his parents years earlier, so my memory of his family is of a loosely joined group of people. But my maternal grandparents were alive, and our visits to Juarez often revolved around their home. My earliest memory of them is that they lived in one of three tiny, adobe houses set at right angles to one another on a rocky hill. The houses formed an upside down “U”, its opening facing an unpaved, sloping road, and its middle being an earthen patio where chickens pecked at the ground. Two aunts and their families lived in the other two houses. Some afternoons our tias slaughtered chickens on the patio while we played guinceafiera. Then, beneath dusk’s violet skies, we told ghost stories. There was the tale about the viejito who would cart you off in a sack. I pictured a shriveled raisin of a man carrying a burlap sack containing a struggling child. There was also the ever-frightening La Llorona, icon of matricide by NOVEMBER 12, 2010 I find myself inhabiting a destierro of the spirit, an exile from my parents’ homeland and my cultural heritage, and innocents. In a city of a million and a half people, this may seem irrational. Would drug cartels really single out my family? Maybe not, but there have been