You might recognize the name Roberto José Andrade Franco. He’s a Ph.D. candidate at SMU who has written a few stories for D Magazine. Roberto is from El Paso. He was there when a North Texas man killed 22 people in a Walmart. At the time, Roberto had an assignment from Deadspin to write about soccer in Juarez. There was no way he could write about the sport without addressing the violence. The result was quite something. A taste:
I’ve made that drive so many times I’ve lost count. I know where to stop for gas and which bathrooms are clean. As you drive into that open west Texas land, hours pass between glimpses of even moderate-sized cities. During that long, lonely drive it’s impossible not to contemplate your own life, your beliefs, your future. Ten hours alone, and that still wasn’t enough time for him to reconsider killing us.
The first time I took that drive back home, I returned a different person. After almost getting lost along the way, I figured out a few things with the help of some people. And every time I came home after that—taking that same drive—a little part of me had changed for the better. I eventually came back a father to a little girl who has my eyes.
On the day she was born, I began talking to her in Spanish. I told her things no one else knows. My deepest regrets. I told her I felt like a coward for saying these things to someone who can’t understand. I told her I loved her and that I would always protect her. I said all of it in Spanish.
She’s two years old now. She talks mostly in English, but I keep talking to her in Spanish. I sing to her in Spanish. I feel a sense of accomplishment when she sings along. I worry that without that language, she’ll lose something more than the ability to communicate with the side of the family that lives a long drive away from home. Recipes handed down, the stories that get told, the phrases with double meanings, the song lyrics so beautiful they make me glassy-eyed—she’ll lose that.
Find 15 minutes or so to read this.