I didn’t go home to Tijuana last night; I couldn’t. The city was in chaos after a shooting in the Tijuana central hospital. The violence has reportedly been connected to organized crime, an ongoing and seemingly endless problem in the city of Tijuana.
I was with mi novio last night, the Tijuanense, and he talked to his friends in the city who said there were checkpoints every other street and the police were pulling everybody over. I’ve already been pulled over and, a few years ago, arrested by the Tijuana police, so I know how that goes (20 dollars usually handles things, but it’s a hassle I just didn’t need).
Last night’s violence brought up a conversation that comes up often between mi novio and me. “Why do you live here? Why do you like it? It’s so ugly and violent,” he says. “It’s not like the rest of Mexico.”
He’s right, of course, but I still have a Tijuana-sized hole in my heart. Chalk it up to my gringa-grown ignorance; a life lived in supposed impenetrable safety and happiness. I’ve never really seen violence up-close, so it really doesn’t exist in my world. Yet.
Tijuana represents excitement and a kind of vibrant and colorful life I never found in all the places I lived in the States; Colorado, San Francisco and San Diego. I wonder if the violence and sitting-on-the-verge-of-chaos-and-complete-anarchy part of Tijuana is actually part and parcel to the aliveness I feel when I’m there.