I was awakened this morning by singing sea lions. You don't hear many of those in Chicago, but I'm out here on book tour riding Queen of America
like a tiny magic carpet.
My wife and I used to joke that the best way to deal with family and your home town was to maintain a 1,000-mile buffer zone. But what you're really staying away from is the poverty and the struggle of the old days. And now, I am here with this fat novel that depends so heavily on my family's history.
It's amazing to find that words I give to strangers are little objects of gold that my relatives clutch dear to their hearts. After a few full days of appearances, we sat together tonight in a kitchen near the border and I found out to my shock that this strange writing life of mine means something profound to these people I have loved sometimes from so far away.
They had made bottles of pomegranate tequila. Blanca, who turns 75 this week, said "This is fruit I planted, I raised, and I harvested with these hands." I realized that was the family history she herself had made for us and together we drank a toast to our stories.