December 16, 2014

Borders: Look, Don’t Touch

By Geneva Boliek-Poling

My experience of borders in the past has been driving on an empty highway passing an old billboard that says “Welcome to Colorful Colorado!” or another state motto of a similar sort. I’ve never been in a situation quite like the Texas – Mexico border where you are dancing just on the edge, a variety of boundaries restricting you to your own country.

A concrete slab in the earth that you can’t step off, as it was at Monument 1, seems almost like a traffic light. There’s no physical force to stop you from just sneaking a foot onto Mexican land. There’s nothing to keep you from running the red light, but you wouldn’t dare. It’s illegal.

Then there’s the fence along the border that cuts through the landscape for over 1,000 miles. It’s massive. It looms. I stood looking down the rusty grid to see the vanishing point where it visually turned to a wall of solid black.

And the river itself, a natural boundary, meandering far from the cities, looks lazy enough. But looks are deceiving. It’s deep and it’s fast and the vegetation on the banks is not forgiving. Each of these perimeters poses their own confine whether it is lawful or physical. I felt so close and so far, however cliché it sounds. How frustrating. How exciting.

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