Alyssa Morones | February 3, 2017
One day last summer, after a family gathering at my grandparents’ old house, I stood outside on the front lawn. Beyond the bunches of neighborhoods lay fields and dairies, stretching south toward the mountains that wall in the south end of California’s Central Valley, and north toward Bakersfield, where I’d grown up.
“That’s where the shack was, where you all used to live when you first moved here?” said one of my cousins to his mom, my aunt, pointing in the direction of an empty plot of land, past the end of the block and across the intersection. She nodded yes. I cast my gaze out toward where he pointed. The shack was gone now, but parts of its foundation remained.
I’d spent countless childhood Sundays and holidays, all blended together in my memory now, at this house, running through its front yard and through the back yard with my cousins, diving into its obscure corners during games of hide-and-seek, piling into the kitchen for lunch, too young to be impressed that my grandmother could casually whip up a meal for however many of her six kids and their families were there.
And all the time they had been right there, just out of immediate view, the remnants of that shack — the first place my family, my grandpa and grandma and my dad and his five brothers and sisters, had lived, where they left from for work, and slept and ate and did their homework, when they first moved to California from Texas, and from Mexico before that, when they’d followed my grandpa here for work — the remnants of a past I’d never known. If I wanted, I could walk across the street and walk on them.
“Started from the bottom now we here,” said my cousin, quoting Drake. He was making a joke, but it was also true.