I remember exactly where I was when my boyfriend
called and said I’m moving to Minnesota – it was 7 PM
on a Thursday evening and I had just sat down
at my desk for another night of chemistry homework
and instant hot chocolate with mini marshmallows
mixed in. I had the phone on speaker, and I
picked up my cup and traced its geometric design
with one finger, each movement painfully exact,
slowly deliberate. When I was nine I stepped
on a cholla sticker, and as I sat on the kitchen counter
crying while my mom tugged it out with a pair
of pliers, I said I hate this desert, why do people
live here? My bedroom window at the time
had a palo verde that scratched against it
when the wind rose and my bedroom window
the summer I was twenty-one was ten floors up
and faced the county hospital. I don’t know
how many people came to that hospital with
cholla stickers or squirrel bites, with
alcohol poisoning or tarantula hairs.
I have never driven in snow, but I have raced
dust storms, I have huddled under my bed while
tropical storms whipped the walls with their rain.
What I adore is not the Gulf of Mexico, with its endless
waves and bathtub-warm water. What I adored
was the arroyo outside my high school that flooded
after monsoons and that we would float
boats made from Popsicle sticks upon. What I
adored, although I didn’t know it then,
were the habanero plants and rosebushes
that my mom somehow grew in the rocky
desert soil. I thought all this, I thought
1600 miles, I thought 22 years, but all I said
was Minnesota? and put my cup down
on my desk, next to my statuette
of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
which my parents gave me when I was thirteen.


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