I live in the city of Holy Faith, an oasis in an otherwise poverty stricken state. People flock here from all over the world to feel transformed, to contact their inner artist, to seek out the visions that won’t come to them in their daily lives, to see if the impossible can sprout in this high desert and thrive. This was the path I also took to get here. A gawking tourist, marveling at the adobe and the sculptures, the mountains and the “oceanic” vistas of sky, the mix of cultures, brown skin people everywhere, including the Governor, how could I not be transformed?
What happens after I, a woman in her early thirties, raised working poor in rural Ohio towns by her Puerto Rican single mother; I, another generation steeped in my mother’s assimilation, status quo, color quo, and culture homogony ingrained; moved here after a fresh divorce with not much more than my desire to write. What next?
Did the purpose that overtook me soon after come from the crow in the elm outside my door that would not let me be? Isn’t it the crow in all those Zen parables waking up the idiot who thought they knew who they were? Did it come from volunteering at a local elementary school where the sixth graders I helped with literacy were cafe con leche like me? Was it diving into children’s literature then writing a middle-grade novel, laced with the Spanish words I was made to feel embarrassed by when I tried to speak them, all those years ago? Did it come from the memories of being safe in the libraries in those small Ohio towns, safe enough to lose myself in the pages of other worlds?
The crow won out and I found myself changed. Reaching into endless possibility, I pulled out something tailored just for me. An old diesel pick-up truck running on biofuel, an Airstream converted to a library holding 4,000 books for children ages five to twelve, multicultural books, bilingual books, pencils, notebooks and no wrong way to write. Designed for the children in rural northern New Mexico towns, where there are no libraries, I named it THE BLUE TRUCK PROJECT, made myself the director, enlisted a troop of volunteers, and the call for quality books.
The challenges and rewards partner in a daily salsa number. Knowing this, however, I cannot keep myself from smiling. I cannot keep myself from the feeling of uncontrollable joy. My passions have funneled into purpose. I wonder how this would have changed my mother’s life, if in the 1950’s in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico a bookmobile pulled up, and I opened the door offering her stories, encouragement and support for her voice. In the city of Holy Faith, I am the generation on the heels of my mother’s assimilation. No longer is it about deficiency or survival. It is about thriving, creativity, healing and all things being possible.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.