December 26: The First Day

I. Where I’m From

My family’s roots are deep in the dirt and soil of the Spanish conquest in North America that became Mexico, briefly the Republic of Texas, then the United States. My earliest memories of family are of alternating comfort and restless expectation; worry and warmth; fear of death and occasional reassurance.

I’ve said my family and people are weedy because of their number and persistence. The only things that grow out of the ground in New Mexico are hearty, able to wring water out of a gravelly composite that only could be called soil in precious few places.

My parents were good people, worried about survival but not panicked and they each maintained a sense that there is a “right” and a “wrong,” and good and evil that existed both inside and outside of themselves. Each of them had what would be typically called a conscience.

Throughout my childhood, I can say that they tried to do their best, although they were arranged at opposite ends of the spectrum of emotion, my father more stoic in the classic sense, likely to focus on what he could control and limiting exposure to what he could not. My mother, like most of us, struggled to tell the difference.

What I took from their dynamic was that emotion and attachment to people and things came at a price; holding on to either meant a loss of control and autonomy. Beyond them, I saw a world full of people of uncertain motives, often sweet and sometimes cruel but always worthy of skepticism.

My solipsism as a child was not selfish; as an only child I came to experience my world as me and everyone and everything else. Being part of something meant being an undissolved solid, impossible to digest or assimilate

To December 27