Double Stop by Memho Sepulveda
It’s been some time since I’ve written about the day-to-day stuff that goes on here in my Tijuana flat. Let me start by saying I left my parents as soon as I turned 18 and told them I wanted to struggle. That’s right, I wanted to live a life away from the complete safety and comfort I’d been born into.
I moved to San Francisco, but ended up living in a beautiful home where I was a live-in nanny. Aside from the extreme alienation women feel when left alone with children all day, almost every day, for long, stressful periods of time, I struggled almost less than I had in my tiny hometown in Colorado surrounded by thick tobacco-lipped hicks I didn’t understand.
So I went off to college, where I was sure four years of struggle lay ahead. Much to my dismay, I found fun, ease and a life I often miss. Sure, I starved from time to time, living off the pizza and coke I scored from volunteering to participate in alcohol studies they held outside my dorm, but the whole scene was a far cry from any real sort of struggle.
I graduated and hit the ground running in what had always been referred to as “the real world” by the old folks surrounding me. I’m here now, in the real world, working long hours and getting paid what I’m sure to some would be considered a meager sum, but the only thing that even mildly resembles a struggle is the day-to-day stuff here in my Tijuana flat.
The bugs, for one, make my life somewhat of a challenge. They’re everywhere and nowhere all at once. The fleas this summer ate me alive — I still have the scarred ankles to prove it — and now the cockroaches torment me with their wiggly little antennas and ugly brown faces that stare blankly at me every time I move a dish or pan.
And the water — once upon a time it ran with pressure that wasn’t good, but it wasn’t exactly bad either. Now, it trickles at best and my BF and I have taken to taking what he calls “cowboy showers.” You literally stand under a drip, freezing your ass off and, as quickly as is humanly possible, you scrub yourself down and get the hell out.
And the cold — my doors and windows have gaping cracks and holes in them through which the cold air pours in a constant stream. It makes getting up, getting out from under the protection of my warm Mexican blankets, quite the feat, and in these winter months it’s become a feat I sometimes feel I can’t muster.
And the food — apartments here don’t come with ovens or refrigerators so I’ve had to learn how to cook food on a hot-plate duo setup thingy and store food in a tiny box. We can’t cook with or drink the water so I’m constantly sending my BF across the street so I can continue the difficult process that has become cooking without a proper oven, or counter space, or hardware (I have three shitty pans that are never the right size for anything). Oh yeah, and we have to do the dishes in the bathroom sink. It’s the only sink in the flat.
Yet, I can’t call what I’ve encountered here in Tijuana a struggle. A few days ago, while waiting in the border line, I saw a woman with rotted flesh pealing from her leg. A few days ago, I saw a little kitten so toughened by life on the street that the little thing prowled instead of pranced like the domesticated cats in the U.S.
I see dead dogs on the side of the road bloated up like sickly balloons. I see children sleeping on blankets on the street beside their mothers selling glass pipes, bracelets and sunglasses just to get by. I see lonely men lingering near the border fence, peaking over the top waiting for el migre to get out of the way.
And then I think how foolish it was of me to ever want to struggle. There’s nothing glorious about it.