We pulled into El Paso, Texas at dusk. It’s right on the Mexican border. The Rio Grande river is right there. The part of town we were in looked and felt like we weren’t in America anymore. It looked like Mexico. The food was Mexican, and all of the songs on the jukebox were in Spanish.
El Paso stands on the Rio Grande river across the Mexico–United States border from Ciudad Juárez, the largest city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The two cities, along with Las Cruces in the neighboring U.S. state of New Mexico, form a combined international metropolitan area sometimes referred to as the Paso del Norte or El Paso–Juárez–Las Cruces. The region of over 2.7 million people constitutes the largest bilingual and binational work force in the Western Hemisphere.
The city is the headquarters of Western Refining, a Fortune 500 company, and three publicly traded companies, as well as home to the Medical Center of the Americas, the only medical research and care provider complex in West Texas and southern New Mexico, and the University of Texas at El Paso, the city’s primary university. The city hosts the annual Sun Bowl college football post-season game, the second oldest bowl game in the country.
El Paso has a strong federal and military presence. William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Biggs Army Airfield, and Fort Bliss call the city home. Fort Bliss is one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army and the largest training area in the United States. Also headquartered in El Paso are the DEA domestic field division 7, El Paso Intelligence Center, Joint Task Force North, U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, and U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG).
In 2010, El Paso received an All-America City Award. El Paso has been ranked the safest large city in the U.S. for four consecutive years and has ranked in the top three since 1997. As of July 1, 2016, the population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,080. Its U.S. metropolitan area covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 841,971. The El Paso metropolitan area forms part of the larger El Paso–Las Cruces CSA, with a population of 1,056,178.
It was alien and cool for both of us but we always appreciated cities that looked different than the rest of America.
We had a beer in this border town but pushed on to Las Cruces New Mexico which was so close just on the eastern edge of New Mexico. We stay there without incident.
As I write this memoir I think about what Frank and I did on the trip. When we were in Georgia his Uncle took us to the greatest strip joint on Earth and I saw things I;d never seen before.
Funny thing is, looking back on this journey, Frank and I saw some vice in New Orleans but nothing major. You would think that two boys, 19 and 21 would have terrorized the countryside as we made our way across the country. We did nothing of the kind.
We drove the van all day on the way to our destination and loved the sites we saw along the way. But never did we stop and find the vice and dark fun in any of the towns we visited. We simply crashed, drank beer and watched TV in the hotel rooms we stayed in. We could have strayed and gotten into it with the locals, but maybe with him being an immigrant and me and my anxiety we just wanted to get where we were going.
It was an unspoken goal. Frank wanted to go on an adventure with someone he trusted and eventually his friends would follow. We’d have a band in LA and see what happened. He ultimately wanted to become a barrister in London. I wanted to be a rock star meta god and that was it. So here we were.
We’ll see what happens. He’s a helluva bass player so we’ll make it happen somehow. I’ve been uprooted from my life by my father’s design but I am out from under him.
Who takes their son out of high school before senior year? Oh I don’t know… a selfish self-centered cunt? (Frank’s words not mine, but mine with out a voice.) Once Janice was in Franklin and Marshall my dad was like fuck the rest of the kids in this family I’m moving them to the shore. I’ve exhausted all of my mistresses and some of them are pregnant. We here at the Provident National Bank are buried in bad loans and I need to go. I’ve painted myself into a corner and the love of my life Eileen is gone.
I will cling to Helen and the kids and dump my father’s inheritance into a gigantic over improved shore house a block from the beach in Wildwood NJ.
I think these thoughts as the 1969 Volkswagen mini bus carries my buddy and I from Belfast Northern Ireland across the desert on highway 10 into New Mexico.
I am away from my father. I love him but why? He has taught me everything I know. He taught me how to read, ride a bike, science, life, sex, people, women, everything. Why am I struggling? Because he was so HARD on me.
Why did he have to say those things to me? Those words. Why was he so insecure? Why did he hit me? I can’t leave you dad or hit you back. I can’t fight a bully because you’re the best at that.
You were bullied as a boy. Why would you bully, hurt and scare me? What’s wrong with you?
You’re so nice. You’re a good father to my sisters but mom has a different story. She’s your ultimate victim. Why dad? She’s been a victim her whole life. You describe her as this Japanese servant, That is some disrespectful shit Horace.
She suffered at the end of your tongue night after night. I heard you hurting with your words while she was raising your 4 kids while your tongue pleasures your mistress Eileen.
A man’s word is everything. If you don’t have your word you’re nothing. You fucking liar.
My sweet sisters don’t know you. You told me everything you are when you were old. You told me the truth because you lied about so many things.
You’ve never had an original thought in your life. You love your wife because that poor woman put up with your crazy shit, you love your books because that’s where you stole all of the information you had in your head to get what you want, and you love your kids.
I believe that. You did love us dad. I know you did. As fucked up as you were. I know you loved us all so much. But I’m finally out from under your rule for good.
The 69 VW minibus rolls forward on highway 10. further than she’s ever been from the beaches of North Wildwood.
This family vehicle that was acquired in 1970 could never have imagined she would be making runs back and forth to Frankford high in Philly, and then becoming my vessel in Wildwood for fun and frivolity, But now here she is in New Mexico carrying the misfit son of the family to California to be a musician.
Frank hands me a Harp and I swig that sweet cold baby back. We’re going to California to be rock stars.
Las Cruces was nice and quiet and we’re nearly finished with our journey across America.
Las Cruces, also known as “The City of the Crosses”, is the seat of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 97,618, and in 2015 the estimated population was 101,643, making it the second largest city in the state, after Albuquerque. Las Cruces is the largest city in both Doña Ana County and southern New Mexico. The Las Cruces metropolitan area had an estimated population of 213,676 in 2014. It is the principal city of a metropolitan statistical area which encompasses all of Doña Ana County and is part of the larger El Paso–Las Cruces combined statistical area.
Las Cruces is the economic and geographic center of the Mesilla Valley, the agricultural region on the floodplain of the Rio Grande which extends from Hatchto the west side of El Paso, Texas. Las Cruces is the home of New Mexico State University (NMSU), New Mexico’s only land-grant university. The city’s major employer is the federal government on nearby White Sands Test Facility and White Sands Missile Range. The Organ Mountains, 10 miles (16 km) to the east, are dominant in the city’s landscape, along with the Doña Ana Mountains, Robledo Mountains, and Picacho Peak. Las Cruces lies 225 miles (362 km) south of Albuquerque, 48 miles (77 km) northwest of El Paso, Texas and 46 miles (74 km) north of the Mexican border at Santa Teresa.
Spaceport America, which lies 55 miles (89 km) to the north and with corporate offices in Las Cruces, has seen the completion of several successful manned, suborbital flights. The city is also the headquarters for Virgin Galactic, the world’s first company to offer sub-orbital spaceflights.
Next stop… Arizona!
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