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We were just out of Seminole when I turned to P in the backseat of my mom’s car and told him, “You know there’s a smell, right?” When driving into Hobbs, about five miles out, there’s a faint, distinctive smell that’s somewhere in the vicinity of cow shit and burning oil. He did not know there was a smell, but I assured him that he’d get used to it quickly and he did. After maybe ten minutes it becomes part of the overall landscape. It’s called habituation.

I was nervous to bring him home. He’d only ever seen me in Albuquerque, where I was arguably a different person. How do you show someone your whole life in just a couple of days? Especially when you wanted to eat at all the restaurants you loved one more time before you left?

We’d taken my mother’s car to get him, because at the end of his short trip I was flying back to Chicago. I’d sold my own car, the Chevy Blazer my parents gave me when I went to college. We had to drive to Midland, Texas, an hour and a half away, because there’s no commercial airport in Hobbs. The only way in is by land.

I guess I was happy to show him around; I’d spent the better part of the previous ten years plotting to get away from that place forever. I was more interested in looking forward, to the vintage apartment I’d only seen in pictures, to a whole new city I’d met only once before. When I was younger and dreamed of getting away, I’d never thought of Chicago as an escape. My dreams were more about New York, of course, or sometimes L.A., when I thought about being a screenwriter. What did Chicago have to offer me? Now it offered me a partner, and that was good enough for me. I was ready to go.

Once we got back to my parents’ house, we were carless again. There was really nothing in walking distance. In the Southwest everyone drives everywhere. It’s so hot for most of the year, and everything is so spread out, that driving is just easier. The air conditioning technology is marvelous.

We had to walk back behind a little church’s parking lot to get around the cul-de-sac the house faced. Once around the other side, we stood on the edge of an expansive field, full of ankle-high scrubby grass. I could barely see the sun glinting off the windshields of the cars passing on the highway that formed the field’s other border.

“See this place?”

He nodded uncertainly. It looked like any other field out here in the almost-desert. He’d seen enough of them on the drive in. They weren’t like the corn and soy fields that he was used to. This was no fertile farmland.

“This is like, a scorpion fuck-fest. This place is littered with them, and when it gets dark they come out. My parents have to get an exterminator in every year.”

He turned pale.

“Yeah, they like to get up in the attic. Oh! Make sure you check your shoes in the morning. Easiest thing to do is to just turn your shoe upside down before you put it on. Give it a little shake, because sometimes they can be stubborn. I don’t know if they have claws or what, but – “

He cut me off. “Can we just go back to the house?”

We walked back home. When my mother returned, I’d get to take him out and show him more of the place I came from.

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Comments

Not for me to say coming here was the best decision you ever made…but I am really glad you did.

And not only because the scorpions freak me the hell out.

I absolutely love this. This is everything I want in a blog read–the sense of place, the storytelling, something going on. It’s got that kickass Eliza Evans voice, too. And swears! And holy cow scorpions! It’s got everything but monster trucks.

Erica, me too. (FORBIDDEN EMOTICON HERE.)

Kim, you make me blush. I guess I could write about the monster truck station wagon from Hobbs.

You nailed it. I loved reading this.

Thanks, Ali! I think you know a thing or two about writing about home, yourself.

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