Mom went expat on us not long after we left her an
empty-nester. At first, she was just house-sitting for a rich binationalist who worked for Kodak. Then, once she had a taste for
it, she never came back, finding her own slice of heaven and
taking up permanent residence.
On your way to Rocky Point, you come to a sand-blasted
stoplight at an intersection in the middle of the desert. There is a
faded highway sign pointing the way to Cholla Bay. If you took
this road about two miles, there was a Farmacia in a big limegreen building next to a tire shop with one of those old stacked
tire shop signs. You would turn between these two buildings,
down a dusty Mexican road, into a very native neighborhood.
Out at the end of this bumpy, hardly graded road, where it
terminated in tumbleweed and sand dunes, was my mom’s last
house. It was plotted on the map as 007/420, because out there,
they didn’t have addresses. It didn’t look like much at first, but
to Mom it was paradise, and she was going to make it her own.
Over the years, Mom and her young Mexican Jefe,
Humberto, built it up quite nicely. They dug the pit for the septic
tank and used the caliche to make the bricks that formed the
foundation of the walls for the house. Among the indigenous
vegetation, like the massive mesquite trees, she planted a citrus
and banana tree, along with a garden. Wandering chickens
scratched and pecked, clucked and chortled. Parakeets chirped
happily in their cages. Wafting in the air was the smell of
sinsemilla, blending with big fat sticks of sandalwood.
Most days of the year, a field of sunflowers greeted
visitors in the front yard, the dog chained to the trailer barking
angrily. Mom would come out and yell at it, “Cállate!”, and it
would sit stewing in a low growl. But that mutt eventually
warmed to your presence and became a seemingly omniscient,
benevolent force, bringing joy to your heart as it sat with its head
in your lap, looking soulfully up at you with its big brown,
The house was constantly in some state of suspended
construction, never quite finished. No walls, then no roof, then
no windows; eventually the city piped in one spigot of running
water. But her house was always welcoming to me.
Every now and then, I came down to visit. “Three hots
and a cot,” my mom would say, underpinned with a subtle
chuckle. Her arrangement was that I could stay seven days rent
free, any longer and I’d have to get a job. Mom set me up with a
hammock or cot in the house (she lived in the trailer with
Humberto). Implicit was the understanding of an inexhaustible
supply of joints I could enjoy with Mom in the garden.
Though I never really lived there, this place was more of
a home to me than any place I’ve ever been. It saddens me that
my mom has long since passed, I will never go back there, and
probably never back to that state of tranquility, of comfort, of
belonging; that Nirvana I felt when I was there with her, her Jefe,
and her dog. Home sweet Mexico.