I was born into liminal space, literally between worlds, to a mother who thought she was giving birth to twins, but it was only me. Liminal means from neither here nor there, an in-between place, and in that space between things there’s a certain clarity that can be born, perhaps because you don’t belong there or anywhere, and are therefore not fixed or attached to any one place or story. My family is Mexican American, though it always felt as if we were neither Mexican nor American. So my liminal world was not only a physical place on a political border, but it was cultural and emotional as well.
As a child I would play in the streets and inevitably someone would yell, “La Migra. La Migra? Run,” and we did. Immigration officers (La Migra) often patrolled the block and we’d all run and hide, afraid that they would take us away, even though we were all born as American citizens. Though it was a game, there was this fear – this deeper knowledge of being different, and it expressed itself through stories of what La Migra would do to us Mexicanos, or really, anyone who was different for that matter. I could see the Rio Grande from my bedroom window, and as I grew up, the militarization of the border grew up with me. It went from having no fence, to being a chain link, to barbed wire, to a full, steel wall. Machine gun posts were set up every mile or so, as were more and more armed patrol vehicles. It wasn’t really a slow progression, but we were in it, and somehow the violence of it was normalized.