I grew up in Arizona and left when I was 18 not knowing anything about where I was from, where my mother’s family was from. I left really wanting to go somewhere I thought was more exciting, had more opportunities–California. It took 20 years until I came back.
One of the most sensory reasons I returned was the very familiar taste of chile colorado. While in grad school in Chicago I did an internship in Tucson at the Arizona Theatre Company. I went to Poca Cosa and had their lunch special of meat in chile colorado. It tasted just like my Nana’s, who lived in Tempe all her life. That really called me home. It was beyond what I remembered from being a kid in my grandma’s kitchen; it almost felt like a DNA remembrance of thousands of years of those spices in my genetic memory. After that I started to do work that was history-based and began to learn the heritage of the Sonora desert region and understand that my people on my mother’s side have been in this region for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.
There’s an energy about Mexican Americans and Arizonans who also have a good amount of Indigenous blood in them–though that fact often remains unspoken. We all grew up here. We all grew from the good things and the bad. The racism, the white supremacy that proliferates in the borders of social society–we don’t need to speak it. I’m here. I’m from here. I feel right at home. I don’t feel out of place. I feel like I belong.