On Sunday, we found an abandoned pool club on the Rio Grande. Four pools, hot tub, beer (warm) still in the bars. Mexico on the other side of the river and border patrol vans driving by.
In the old Spanish chapel next to it, a woman prayed and gave us dirty looks for our dirty feet. I stayed outside, bare shoulders.
We kept driving along the military highway that tracks the river and the border - past a burned out monastery that sits on a Catholic schools campus, past old men drinking beers and shooting doves pop-pop from folding lawn chairs, past the road bridge to Mexico, past a small red bar called El Vaquero, right under that bridge, past about a mile of shipping warehouses with NAFTA flags.
I bought poblano peppers and bistec suave from the meat market, La Michoacana, got looks because I was the only white girl. A father and son joked while they waited in line with the butcher. I drove home missing the evening light in NJ, joking with my parents in our kitchen. I cooked for my roommates and my hands burned for two hours after from the pepper seeds, reminding me that I did not come here to feel at home.