In 1977, we escaped from Houston, Texas.
I remember that we stopped the car outside the city limits, headed north, and I flipped that city off with both hands. We'd escaped, we'd surmounted the Company Town syndrome, we still had our wits and love intact. My God, how I hated that place. We'd seen the Torres kid beaten senseless and dumped in a bayou to drown, a Jewish man stopped for speeding beaten to a pulp -- by the Houston Police. Black people and all Asians were reviled and cursed. For the first time in my life, when we lived in Houston, I was afraid to admit that I'm half Mexican. Perhaps it's different now, but in '76 and '77, white supremacy was the order of the day, and I had saved every single frickin' penny I could to escape, from about the first month we'd arrived and discovered how the Land Of Opportunity was really the Maw of Mammon.
We escaped. When the minute came that we had enough money saved to move our paltry furniture back to Pennsylvania, we made plans to move. Our friends John and Melissa had made their escape back to Ohio about six months before; I missed them sorely and envied them their liberation. Maybe they missed us, too, because they offered to have us come stay with them for a while in Ohio.
I remember that time as one of happiness, and incredible contentment. And awe, because Melissa and John were living in an itsy bitsy little trailer that was never intended to hold two families. I learned so much in the days we stayed with them, and came to think of the procedures as trailer living. Everything had to have its place and be in its place, Melissa taught me, and there is no room for leaving things in disorder. The things you need take precedence over "stuff" and everyone has to -- has to -- be civil.
It wasn't hard. They didn't have a lot at that time, and neither did we (uhh, can you say, the clothes in bags in the trunk?) but surely the weeks we spent with them were blessed. When we left, another day's drive got us to blood relatives' support and the tight-lipped, knowing-eyed, you-failed-now-you-have-to-rely-on-family-and-it-will-cost-you venue. The tiny trailer and stepping over each other's legs was far more agreeable.
The time of living in that tiny trailer was a time of grace. In a space smaller than my current living room, two families co-existed with laughter and patience, unworried by the American Dream of property, wealth, and possessions. There were no expectations of success or prestige. That was, however, a time in which I learned more about the true nature of uncondtional love. I truly hope to be able to pass that on one day.