The Garage


This woman’s work…

Time and space can be hard on the poor. I recall sitting in a garage in Compton, California when I was 17 years old. My tia Margarita told me that she understood: she had dealt with alcoholism growing up. I recall wanting to find peace, a place to finish a school assignment and my father was drunk and causing problems. The garage, her garage, was shelter. Time. All the things that high schoolers go through: confusion, growth, love, heartbreak, and add aesthetic sensitivity and awareness: where is the outside where people get along, play, and where can I sleep in peace?


I am reminded of the garage. Today, I park my car in the garage. It fulfills a storage reality. Every once in a while I take my car out and sniff around. I close my eyes and remember my tia Margarita and the old Compton and Lynwood, California garage. I remember other little moments-the garage is where I filled out my undergraduate college applications. The garage is where I watched sports on a tiny tv. The garage is where I imagined what I should do next. Today, I am a father, unsure, if my children will know and feel what I went through. I miss the garage. But, I also know that kids grow up and time passes. ..

The more I move “forward” the more I want to move “back.” Back to those days, with mother and tias. Back to pre-transformers. In other words, what is this all really about anyway? The garage. I am getting older and my post-it notes are still holding on to this information. These scribbles have meaning.

A room of my own and a woman’s work. My tia Margarita. Today, thank you. I woke early near the Gulf of Mexico-the water had little, elegant ripples. A young man wakes up to a beautiful sunrise-he has work to do–offshore oil work.  And I remembered to say thank you to my tia. All the things that I was given. Thank you.

There is a whole day still left. A glass bottle with a note floats through the sea. There are Mexicans on this part of the world, the note reads.  I am California’s son, way over here somewhere.

Richard Rodriguez reminds me:

“The parking lot is hidden by thickets of scrub and at a field’s distance from the mission compound. Yes, you can imagine the solitude of the landscape; you can imagine the hardness of the life. Perhaps I was expecting too much. La Purísima reminds me of nothing so much as those churches the Soviet government used to ridicule by making of them shrines to history. La Purísima is Williamsburg and Sutter’s Fort and worse. The state’s [California’s] insistence that here are matters only of fact is depressing, the triumph of history over memory.”

There is more work to be done. More “facts” out in the world. More people wearing suits. More efficiency. More linear stories. More people that “grew up” and “moved on.” In that garage, that part is left outside of its walls. I break a plate or two and the food still tastes good on a napkin.