I ran back to NYC and though I didn't know it, to El Barrio, after a brief stint in Arizona. Despite the famously large Mexican population of AZ, I never felt so out of place. The Mexican food was unfamiliar and bland, the politics conservative and scary, and don't get me started on how many guns I saw. I'm a Mexican who doesn't deal so well with borders - or boundaries.
El Barrio fit for me. Having spent much of my youth with caribeños, especially Puerto Ricans, the culture and music was warm, somewhat familiar and friendly. And lucky for me, there was already a growing Mexican community to fill my cravings for all things spicy and served in a tortilla. But it's more than that - El Barrio has a creative energy bursting from its streets. People with little, have done and continue to do the most amazing things in that modest, unassuming stretch of blocks, and I think that creativity born out of necessity is an inspiration for many other communities that have since formed.
I always like to say that whenever I lose my way, I turn to the most important mentor I never met - Gloria Anzaldúa. I read her words, find strength and get in touch with what direction my heart must go. For some reason, Ms. Gloria always sends me back to El Barrio - when I wanted to be a writer but didn't know how, after I wanted to drop out of Yale, after the man I thought I was going to marry became abusive. She always sends me home.
El Barrio is a special place, too much to be describe here. But, enough to explore in this blog. Here I present my experiences, poetry, fiction writing, and research project inspired by my favorite neighborhood in NYC. I start with two poems, forthcoming from my debut collection, Coatlicue Eats the Apple.