I didn’t start to question my identity until my first year of college. Before that I thought I was an American citizen attending kindergarten in Ciudad Juarez. Then in third grade I realized that I was Mexican when I crossed the border to attend Houston Elementary School in El Paso. The first day of school a classmate asked me in Spanish – not English – why I was wearing black polished shoes. I remember I looked around and saw that all the other boys and girls were wearing sporty tennis shoes.
EL PASO – We usually wait until people die to celebrate their lives, children’s birthdays excepted. How short-sighted of us. Bobby Byrd, poet and co-owner of Cinco Puntos Press (CCP), just turned 70. His wife, Lee Merrill Byrd, also a writer and CCP co-owner, planned a surprise (?) party for him just as she has done for at least the past three decades. Upon graciously approaching the microphone to speak to his audience of well-wishers, Bobby noted, “I see that all my lives are present here this evening,” or something very close to that. He went on to mention the various groups of people represented: the guys he played basketball with at the “Y,” his neighbors, fellow soccer coaches, fellow writers and coworkers, muckety-mucks, etc.