Cotton Fields

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Many of us of Mexican heritage tend to want to forget, and to ignore, the times before today. Some of us are even ashamed to remember or speak of those bygone days. But to do so would be to disremember who we were, and what brought us to today.

COTTON FIELDS

By Al Garcia

Many of us of Mexican heritage tend to want to forget, and to ignore, the times before today.  Some of us are even ashamed to remember or speak of those bygone days.  But to do so would be to disremember who we were, and what brought us to today.

We tend to try to disregard those hard and lonely days, and only think about the good times, and the times we laughed with joy.  Yet, life is not just laughter and enjoyment, there is adversity and hardship, difficulty and cruelty.  Growing up along the hot and humid lowlands of the Rio Grande Valley, one becomes accustomed to the highs and lows of living.

There is a passage of unspoken realities and accepted ritual of having to live among the cotton fields along the delta basin.  I was brought up to follow a tradition and a practice as a son of dual nationalities.  One part of me inspired me to expect the very best that life had to offer, while the other part of me engrained in me the need to work and strive to achieve all I could be.  I was American, and I was Mexican.  A combination of contradictions.  Unlike rich man, poor man, I was just an in-between kid.  Not rich, not poor, but simply taught that I could outgrow the circumstances that surrounded me and flourish and blossom among the cotton fields in the Valley along the Rio Grande.

I remember hot scorching afternoons in the cotton fields.  Lonely and desolate days of seeing endless rows of dry thorny white-dotted plants in dusty drying fields.  The sun sometimes too hot to bear or endure, sometimes inducing images of cool shady places and cold frosty drinks, while I picked at cotton bulbs and placed them in the long and heavy canvas bag that I dragged behind me.  Oh, to be anywhere but here.  Those were thoughts that filled my mind, and the very thoughts that I told my aching young body to ignore.  I was just a kid, too young to object or protest, but too old to cry.  And the cotton-picking days grew long, and the sun shined hotter, and I, like all those before me, kept on picking and kept on dreaming.

I remember those days growing up on hot summer days in the Valley.  Harvest time.  And those were the days that inspired me, motivated me and educated me.  Those hot, long days in the cotton fields were my connection to the past.  Little did I know that those days were also the bridge to my future, my character and my destiny.  Nothing came easy to me.  I made myself into who I am today through the lessons of my past, and the inspiration my parents instilled in me.  I learned that anything that seems or comes too easy, may not be worth the effort.  While working, striving and struggling to achieve and attain, withstands the scrutiny and the search for purpose and for meaning.  

The cotton fields were my awakening to the reality of the world around me.  There was nothing easy about living.  There was no entitlement for kids like me.  But I got something in the cotton fields the rich kids never had or never learned on their own.  I found I was strong, proud and able to survive on my own.  And, I learned the hard way, that I could take on the world.  And I did.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.

The cotton fields now a memory.  The lessons learned still seared into my mind.  The scars healed, but still visible and still real, if you could look into the core of me. 


Submitted: June 10, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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