La Frontera

“I have missed so much of life, my face like a doormat, has so often seen the undersoles of travelers’ shoes and boots, smelled the greens and dirts in their cleats, and I have spent a life imagining their travels.” — ‘Influences’ by Jimmy Santiago Baca

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With a trace

I told her I feel naked in the day.
‘Wait for the streetlights to spark,’ she says. ‘Remember that’s me calling you home, baby.’

Street Whispers

I wandered the barrio tonight. Camera. Click, click. I heard your voice pierce through the night sounds. So I whispered, ‘I love you too.’

Las calles always have the message I need; wait until midnight, patently, I thought. Then, go visit your hermano.

All Souls Procession — ‘Remembering Together’

I never expected to feel like a foreigner in a city that’s been my second home for the last two decades. But it happened. A blend of joy and sadness erupted from my gut when I verbalized this particular contradiction. And I knew turning away wasn’t an option. In between gawking at the spectacle and sheer amount of people, I caught up with a couple I met shortly after first relocating to the Old Pueblo.

I also snapped a few photos when the mood struck me and my timing felt appropriate.

 

Taking part in the All Souls Procession as a photog feels like you’re shooting a citywide funeral, collectively capturing two hundred thousand people in mourning. The event started in 1990 by local artist Susan Johnson, who commemorated the passing of her father via the artistic mode. ‘From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together,’ Johnson said, during an interview for the procession website. From Johnson’s personal, artistic memorialization, the procession now spans an entire weekend and attracts more than 150,000 people annually.   

The mood concurrently feels celebratory, festive. And this balloon tailed me all evening, I snickered to myself while editing my images.

When the ocean of people began floating south, I waltzed on tempo — only breaking my stride if my shutter beckoned.   

We all appear the same and cry similar tears when the light vanishes. This ultimate meeting of Tucson’s tribes drove home that fact. Then, the temperature dropped, making the sound of footsteps echo and visualized an exhaled breath.

By the close of the night, my legs wobbled with a pleasant ache. And my heart gushed as I slipped through the shadows of Barrio Viejo, thinking, ‘Obrigado, meu amigo.’

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ — Marcel Proust