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some 1,700 homicides in Juarez this year; I won’t take the chance. Anyway, about the house: Its tiny front porch opened to the street through a wrought iron gate. From the front door, a hallway led to a living room and kitchen on the right and bedrooms on the left. At the back of the house was a tiny patio. My grandmother lived her last days in this house. Sometimes, as she lay dying, we kids forgot ourselves. Despite the moans of our abuela in her darkened bedroom, we’d break into squeals during some impromptu game, bringing one of our parents running. Once my mother marched my sister and me to our grandmother’s bedside so we could witness a human’s battle with death. We walked back . into the hall somberly and, overcome with emotion that refused to express itself as tears, collapsed in horrified giggles, hands over our mouths. When she died, we held our grandmother’s wake in the family room in the Old World tradition. In the years that followed, my primas and I morphed into teens who wore lipstick and eyed the crisp-shirted young men ambling by the house in the evenings. Some nights, under the eye of an aunt, we donned party dresses and slipped into a taxi, our feet twitchy in their high-heeled shoes in anticipation of W.W. TORRE Attorney at Law 1105 N. Travis 254-697-3700 P.O. Drawer 752 Fax: 254-697-3702 Cameron, TX 76520 [email protected] A Good Lawyer for Good People CentralTexas Gardener KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, creates innovative television that inspires and educates. KLRU-produced programs that air statewide on klru Texas PBS stations include Central Texas Gardener, Texas tv and beyond Monthly Talks and The Biscuit Brothers. Check your local listings. Every day I’m reminded of the drug wars by stories of kidnappings and mass murdersstories that paralyze me into staying on the American side. the baffle. Eventually we grew up, launched careers, married and had children of our own. But always we returned to that house. Long after our abuelo died and left it to one of our tias, it remained the star we orbited. My life is more complicated now than in the years I lived on the border. There is my mother’s Alzheimer’s that has me shuttling from Dallas to El Paso several times a year. There’s the fact that in 2003 I met two half-siblings, a son and daughter born to my father Juarez. Since that discovery, I’ve tried to forge a bond with them. Who are they? What are their hopes? They have relationships and dreams of which I know nothing. This would all be easier were I not 600 miles away. As it is, when I’m in El Paso, my time is devoted almost entirely to my mother. Further complicating life is the violence that has become a hallmark of Mexico’s frontera. Every day I’m reminded of the drug wars by stories of kidnappings and mass murdersstories that paralyze me into staying on the American side. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I dreamed of fame and a dazzling career. These days, I dream about a reunification of my soul. This dream is the brilliant blue of sky and hope. In it, I vanquish my fears and cross the border to reclaim my cultural birthright. I spend time with my newly found siblings, seeing in them the line of my own nose and the slant of my own eyes. In this vision, I connect them with the part of my life I spent in the city of their birth. I walk them through my grandfather’s house: Here is where I hid when we played las escondidas. Here is the bed where we lay giggling over the guy I left on the dance floor because he looked down my dress. Here is the kitchen where my mom smoked a Salem after her mother’s death the kitchen where my grandfather and uncles sit in a perpetual tableau around the table, their hair crushed by hats removed, their laughter cracking off walls layered with the aromas of a thousand meals. More than anything, this image of the family table, where food nourished our bodies and love fed our souls, is the one I hold as road map to the border’s future. It is prologue and epilogue: family we have loved, family for whom we long. So powerful is this image that I even dare to envision this: We, the exiled border souls, gather on that line that has been taken by thugs and criminals. We gather by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, and we walk south across that line. We breach it, together. In the throngs of this critical mass, I hold my mother’s hand and lead her across to take her home. Once there, who can stop us? We will just keep walking. L Beatriz Terrazas is a writer based in Dallas. Her work has been published in The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News, as ,well as in Heal, Cure and Skirt! magazines. WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG