People | Generations

A Family on the Border, of the Border

I see a wall as tantamount to rejection: to create a physical barrier is to reject the possibility of familiarity.

Photograph by Monica Lozano/courtesy of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

When we were older, my father would come by in his silver pickup truck and take us for Happy Meals at McDonald’s. He asked us about school and whether we helped our mom around the house. I remember feeling shy and uncomfortable during these outings—even as a child, I understood that the man who had permission to take us out was someone I could never really know.

Sometimes I think I would need the distance a physical border provides if I were to ever speak honestly to my father.

It is because of his continued rejection of me and my brother that I would place him at Station 3 in El Paso, close to the hotels on which rooftops Anglos once paid to sip lemonade and watch as Mexican revolutionaries, my great-grandparents among them, lived and fought and died on dusty Juárez streets.

The author’s grandmother and great-grandmother in El Paso, c. 1940/courtesy of the author

The El Paso Times