These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

stranger in a strange land

i'm supposed to write an article pertaining to the catholic church, st. francis, performing masses at the migrant camps. a priest goes out to the pine acres camp on thursdays and to the quincy camp on fridays. the masss is performed outdoors by the apartment buildings.

dennis and i went out both days to get comments, photos and film footage.

before going, i joked with dawn tht maybe i'd see some of the kids from the summer migrant program. i thought it'd be neat seeing them again after the program. we'd bonded and catching up with them would be a good thing.

dawn told me what kids were staying at which camp. i made a mental note. on thursday we arrived a little late but the mass hadn't started yet. we walked around and talked to the people before the mass. i walked near a community building and a girl walked up to me and said, "hello mr. garcia." she walked away. it was arlette. i heard her name and her cousin's name, deila, being called out. i knew they were there.

on friday we went to the quincy camp. it was cool and overcast and very few people were in attendance (like at pine acres the day before). dennis took some pics and asked me to identify one of the kids. i bent over and asked the boy his name. "juan," he said shyly. your last name? "ramirez." i knew him. i know juan. but i didn't recognize him because of the hoodie he wore and he wasn't his usual talkative self.

i noticed at both camps that the kids i met didn't really talk to me. they -- arlette anyway -- acknoledged me and that was it. it was almost as if they were ashamed to know me. or ashamed that they knew who i was.

i am not part of their group. i'm latino as they are, talk spanish, might enjoy the same mexican guisine, but that's where are similarities end.

i'm not a migrant. i think when they're outside of that life, such as when i knew them during the summer program, it was fine. they were in another world, not mine and not theirs. we shared it and it was happy.

however, when i went into their world, the migrant camp, where they live for a portion of the year, it's different. i was like a stranger. sure arlette said hello (that's her way), but then she ran off before i could talk to her.

i don't feel bad or anything, i just wish i could have talked to them to see how they're doing since it's almost time for them to make their south for winter.

also, i guess i don't blame them. i only wish the bond we shared during the summer could continue no matter where we were, their world, my world or in between.

and you guys thought this blog entry was going to be about the iron maiden song from the "somewhere in time" album. how wrong you were.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


changes occur every day of our lives. some are minute and go unnoticed while others have far reaching effects. some become part of our daily routine while others alter our reoutine, sometimes for a little while or forever, in other cases.

change is definitely in the air.

take the temperature. it plummeted 20 degrees or so and is now settling into the 60s and 70s. the humidity is gone and there is an air (ardon the pun) of change. in a few weeks atumn will make its appearance, stretch its arms from its long sleep and shoo summer out into its own repose for nine months. a chain reaction will occur and mornings will be chilly, days shorters, nights cooler, leaves turning, then falling, gathering, piling. and the inevitable beast that is winter wil awaken from its own sleep.

and with change comes the journey, the paths we take from which we can no longer return, retrace our steps and follow another path or road, a much safer one leading through happy, sunny meadows where grass sways its green stems in the breeze, birds sly across the blue sky and time seems to stand still while you walk.

no. change does occur. and as we move, forcibly at times, through our path, we are also forced to accept. accept things we would rather not think about. would rather not hope happen. still, our path takes on on, moving steadily ahead, full of hills and valleys.

and through change comes maturity, also forced. though good, it also is a step away from innocence. maybe several steps away. gone are the times when summer crept along slow and days stretched long before us. the following school year not in sight. when saturday mornings meant awakening at 6 a.m. to watch hours of cartoons. to walk the woods or play cars or soldiers with your brother. or finding yourself traversing through unknown realms of the imagination where time meant nothing and you always came back safely.

what are these things?

changes. an inevitable part of life. we can't ever go back from change, no matter how much we try.

so as the leaves fall this autumn and days grow short think of change. think of how is shapes us, how it makes us who we are. how it hardens us, strengthens us. because for all its unyielding stubbornness, change does strengthen.

change, then, is like the rings of a tree trunk, through the years, it grows more and with each one there is change and with each ring you can see change and how it occurred; yet, the tree continues to grow, provide shade, food or shelter.

so let us embrace change, then, though scary it may be, and follow the path where it may lead. beyond may lie tht meadow.