We are unconscious breathers, unlike dolphins above water that actively breathe with the awareness of their entry into a world of purely gaseous oxygen.
The downfall of humans’ unconscious breathing is the lack of appreciation of it. Air is an element of life that goes unsavored, unlike food or drink. If we all really tried, we all would be able to taste the air we breathe.
It is the fleetingness of a breath and the routine of breathing that have us taking breathing for granted. To take a breath, to catch a breath, to lose a breath… are not ways we appreciate breathing, but are ways we’re thrown off our course or how seek the comfort of getting back to the routine of breathing.
Our breathing is what keeps us in symbiosis with plant life: a mutual exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, in our opposing processes, that allow us to transfer life onto each other.
It is our breaths that sustain us; that are held captive by anticipation; that hasten in excitement; that allow olfactics to overcome us; that dictate anything else we pace for ourselves.
El Paso, Texas is a city with staggered breathing.
The desert desolation of its parts and constituents has it walking the line between city and settlement.
Culture and values are remnants of a bygone era that define a city still coming into its own.
Some have called us “Baja, New Mexico.” Others have offered that the term “El Paso, Texas” is, in itself, an oxymoron. Others glibly call us “El Passive.” To many, we are the Sun City, El Chuco, Paseo del Norte, etc. To some, we embody the Wild West of American lore. To others, we’re the “Safest City in the United States.”
We are an “All-American City” with some serious immigration issues. We are one of the breeding grounds for the next wave of immigrant dominance.
We are a border city. We do not live on either side of cultures, opinions and lifestyles; we live between them. We are, after all, “The Pass”: a transitioning point, not a destination.
We are a city that’s been ambushed by the expectations of cities as big as we are, of other border cities with livelier tourism campaigns, of American productivity – and we’ve been left for dead somewhere between a bullet from a Mexican Cartel and a Fort Bliss Humvee.
The pounding of the Chihuahua Sun on El Paso is as palpable as the heartbeat of body struggling to stay alive; not savoring every breath, but devouring it for dear life.
El Paso is a city with that kind of staggered breathing: palpable.
But it is breathing, nonetheless. It is breathing an e pluribus unum symphony of dissonant breaths.
The ocotillos are breathing. The buzzing I-10 truck drivers are breathing. The seamstress making alterations to a quinceañera dress under 40 Watts of light is breathing. The dust blowing across Glory Road is breathing. Felina – somewhere among us – is breathing. The Diablo’s 3rd Baseman is breathing. The Concordia Cemetery nightwatchman is breathing. The oil crackling up an Order of Three at Chico’s is breathing. Paz y justicia para Juárez está respirando. Alameda is breathing. Sunset Heights is breathing. The memory of Los Desaparecidos is breathing. The beaten worker sleeping on a mattress outside of Centro de Trabajadores Agricolas is breathing. Mary I. Stanton is breathing. Sun Metro’s Route 42 is breathing. The Fort Bliss Army wife peeling the yellow ribbon magnet from the back of her Denali is breathing. The little girl shouting “Mira! Mira!” to her mother in the cereal aisle at Big 8 is breathing. The jukebox at the Long John Silver’s on Montana is out of order, but still breathing. The dishwasher at Julio’s is breathing. Professor David Smith-Soto is breathing. The dancefloor at the Chamizal is breathing.
El. Paso. Is. Breathing.
Allow us to call your attention to it.
Welcome to the Bean Juice Dispatches.
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