Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Feels like home to me…oh but not to you?

Well continuing on my experience in Dilley, TX, the other week...

The work we did in Dilley, I feel was important. It’s hard to make a dent in just a week though. I don’t know if any of the people I talked to will eventually get out of that detention center. I may in fact never know. Additionally, even if they are eventually released, the road to asylum is long ahead. I won’t share their stories here. They are too horrible – too terrible to share with the world on such an easygoing blog. But I do hope that the judges they eventually face look upon them with compassion.

So, I won’t talk about that anymore. This blog isn’t supposed to be that deep, and my initial plan for this blog was never to discuss anything resembling the law. Today, I would like to talk about the city of Dilley, Texas, a town of about 3,500 people.  

I hearted everything about Dilley. To me, it brought up memories of the town where I grew up (although I’m from west Texas where there is no humidity, so that was a bit different). My town has seen significant growth in the many years since I left, but when I was growing up, it was quite small, and (largely because my mom couldn’t drive) I never really went beyond the part of my town within 2 – 3 hours walking distance from my house. This portion of my town comprises all my memories of my town and is very easy to romanticize.  

Interestingly enough, my experience was in total contrast to the experience of the other volunteers – mostly people from NYC ^_^;;, although there were a couple others from certain other places. 

Arriving in Dilley, I loved the heat – so different from the permafrost of San Francisco. I was able to comfortably wear jeans and a no-sleeve shirt with a thin cardigan without freezing. It seems like it was a bit too hot for the others though. I looooooved the ranch-style house in which the organization with which we were volunteering is located. Its wood paneled living room, the fireplace with little iron curtains and the kitchen all reminded me of the home I grew up in. The long winding dirt drive and fenced gate reminded me of my auntie’s house. Everything screamed to me “TEXAS!!!” It fit so perfectly with all my memories of Texas – much more than San Antonio (now, the day I spent in San Antonio on my way back to SF from Dilley was my first time ever going to a “big city” in Texas), which, to me, lacked character and flags (my hometown is full of Texas and US flags – everywhere; in San Antonio, I didn’t see a US flag for a good mile or so of driving from the airport, and I didn’t really see Texas flags until driving through Lytle, Texas, which is outside of San Antonio proper). 

"If I die...just take me to Texas"
I know that I frequently miss my hometown, but I really felt a kind of horrible sorrow loving Dilley so much – well, I think this is the definition of “homesick”. Even now, writing this, I’m on the verge of tears – it’s odd because I never really felt homesick in Tokyo, but since I came back to the U.S., I really feel out of place in San Francisco and frequently think of Texas.

In Dilley, we went to a small Tex-Mex restaurant called “Jalisco’s”. Over ten lawyers dressed in suits in a little run down Tex-Mex place – half of them asking if they had any “vegan” options (which was plain embarrassing for me). I personally am not a fan of California “Mexican food”, but Tex-Mex is something magical I believe (although it took me a while to get to that realization. As a child, I mostly ate chicken fried steak and potatoes--not a joke. I ate at least one meal of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, corn and Texas toast every week.), and the food there was plenty decent – even though it doesn’t hold a finger to the place my family used to frequent in my hometown. Saw the local high school and driving school, a nice park-looking area in the middle of town and a boot wholesale store (I really wanted to go but didn’t have enough time). Just over all a quaint and beautiful town full of friendly, friendly people. 

Well, here’s the sad thing about Dilley, TX (besides the detention center (and the separate prison on the way to the detention center)): the town may be being destroyed by fracking and injection of fracking water near Dilley. I knew that there is quite a bit of fracking in various places in east Texas, so I was prepared (I bought a case of bottled water at Wal-Mart on the way in from San Antonio). But, the other people were not prepared. A lot of them were complaining about the way the water tasted, so I told them about the fracking and fracking water injections near Dilley – although, of course, I don’t know if that’s what makes the water taste "weird" (and I actually hope not, of course) and did not actually taste the water myself, but it is relevant information to consider for out-of-towners. I had read quite a few articles about shallow injection sites near Dilley before coming here. No one else had known about it.
It really breaks my heart to think that fracking could be destroying this beautiful town that I had come to love in just a week.
It's far too sad that, as a town, it's just too small to effectively fight the power of the fracking industry. I really hope that Dilley isn't poisoned out of existence -- all of its citizens becoming displaced environmental refugees. I can never return to the small town that I grew up in because it has grown up into a bigger town, but it is infinitely more sad to not be able to return to your hometown because it has become too dangerous or because it simply doesn't exist anymore.

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