You can’t go home again

But you can go to somebody else’s.

Before I got to Lordsburg, New Mexico, my dad told me to call up Manuel Saucedo.

“Who’s that?”

“We went to high school together. He is a wonderful man.”

That was good enough for me. So I called him.

“Hi, Mr. Saucedo. I’m Chandler Davidson’s son. My name is Seth. I’m coming through Lordsburg and would like to meet you if you have a few minutes.”

“That would be wonderful! You sound just like your father. Just call before you get here.”

My granddad Frank was the border pstrolman in Lordsburg. Singular. “Be sure to go by our old house!” dad had said without giving me any directions.

I called Mr. Saucedo this morning. “I’m just around the corner. I hope you’ll forgive me looking like a homeless person but I’ve been on my bike from LA.”

“If you are bicycling I would hardly expect you to show up in a tuxedo,” he said with a laugh.

Mr. Saucedo was waiting for me on the porch, a very vigorous looking 86, but we kept our covid distance. “We are being very careful,” he said.

Turns out he was actually Judge Saucedo, and he told me where dad’s old house was. “They tore it down a few years ago, it’s a vacant lot on the corner of 7th and Main.

“How did you know my dad?”

“We were in band together. He played the flute. I always admired him a lot. He was brilliant, incredibly smart. We were all a bit jealous, really! But he was the nicest, kindest boy. Did you know your grandmother?”

“Extremely well.”

“She was a beautiful, lovely, very intelligent woman. We all loved her.”

We talked for a long time, and I left. Dad’s grade school is still there but the old high school is gone. I visited the vacant lot of his home. I rode the streets slowly, taking in the decay. I thought about how lucky I was to meet and talk with one of dad’s boyhood friends, even as the tenuous flame flickered.

The town seemed small as I pedaled over to my campsite. But against its smallness loomed the giant outline of my father’s past, and therefore mine.


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