Don't get me wrong, not everything is bad about Ruston and Louisiana. The title might be a little misleading, but this is what I feel it is. An escape. I have spent the last 4 years of my life in this little town in the piney hills of North Louisiana. Has everything been bad? No. Has everything been great? Not either. Difficult is the word. Everyday always represented a new difficulty, from Day 1. I would need an infinite blog to tell all the stories I have to tell from this place. Sometimes I was astonished with how bizarrely unhuman people can be, but some other were an oportunity for me to learn that it can't be that everything is bad about a particular place or its people. Watch the movie "Dogville" and you will see what I mean.
When I first moved to Louisiana, the only idea I had in my mind was New Orleans. I pictured as a dream, as an oportunity that would give me the chance to be myself and experience the unknown for the first time in my life. When I was back home at that time I was losing control of my life. I didn't want to stay, and I couldn't stay in Chihuahua anymore. There were so many things going wrong with me and I needed a fresh start... so I thought Mardi Gras would do it for me... and things changed, but it wasn't precisely Mardi Gras what did it.
I didn't even get to go to New Orleans until three years after my arrival in Louisiana. That's the way things started. But I went all the way from being homeless and depending on the charity of indian students to one of the most celebrated students graduated this quarter. Just today I went doing some of the endless paperwork needed at Tech and it was ironic to have some of the administrative people from the main building calling me by my name. "Hey Carlos, congratulations!", "How come you are leaving us?" and phrases of the sort. I feel very thankful for it, but I still smile thinking of my early days at Tech, when after 4 months with no pay, because of some -administrative procedure- some of those same people couldn't authorize to pay me a check, even though that was all I had to live.
I lost many pounds when I first came to Ruston, and most of all, I lost my innocence and many times my belief in the human race. I had never been exposed to discrimination, tagging, racism and prejudice. Sometimes I did not feel like Carlos, but like the "mexican". The "quasi-illegal". And now, four years later, people still wonders why I want to come back... well, Louisiana never did it for me. I never felt home here. I grew up as a person, and as a man, maybe not in the friendliest manner. I made friends, yes a few, but none from Louisiana. I am not leaving anything behind, but my own fears and insecurity.
There are many things to say, but I don't want to make this a long story... it should suffice to say that I felt more at home in four days in Cincinnati than in 4 years in Ruston. Thank God for the internet or I would have died. But I know God sent me here for a reason. I needed to discover myself without the influence of my environment. Know my strengths and weaknesses... know my abilities and my disgraces. So, I can still say, "Thank you Louisiana, for bringing up the best in me!" Not without tears, not without astonishment. You made me understand the true nature of human beings. And how lucky I was to be born in Mexico.