Two Places Dear to my Heart – la Plazita and el Andador

Do you have a special place where your mind brings feelings of nostalgia and yearning about what once was? That one place where you find yourself returning to often in your dreams? It might be the place where you grew up, a certain neighborhood or a house.  For me, this place is a little corner short distance from my grandmother’s house.

Everyone calls that place La Plazita or the little town square.  This place is not just a little park; it is actually connected to a very long road that everyone in the neighborhood calls el Andador or the walking strip.

Present day La Plazita or the little town square in San Luis Potosí in 2019

Many years ago, when the city of San Luis Potosí was founded in Mexico, the main mode of transportation was the railroad.  The railroad put the city of San Luis Potosí on the map.  The railroad also helped this city thrive.  From 1910-1950, San Luis Potosí became an industrial city.

The railroad built in San Luis Potosí was long and interconnected with many main roads.  My grandmother’s house was located along one of those main roads.  The railroad tracks ran parallel to my grandmother’s house.  The tracks were so long in my time living there, I never saw where they ended.  This railroad is not as important as it once was and as result it is no longer in use.  In order to put this once-thriving, unused railroad to good use, people from the city created an open market known as el mercado along its former route.  The open market sets up every Sunday and sometimes on Saturdays.  This open market is as long as the railroad.  People who want to sell their products just come and set up their tents and tables and start selling.

The railroad is also the path I followed to go to middle school.  It connects to the street that takes you to the middle school I attended.  Right on that street there is a particular small park or resting area where people gather for different reasons.  Some people wait there for public transportation and young kids go there to play.  It also serves as a meeting place for middle school students.

This is the place I refer to in my post The Point of Convergence where I often visit in my dreams.  La Plazita is very dear to me because it is the last place I remember as we left my hometown, riding away in a cab.

La Plazita the last place I remember when we left our hometown. Photo taken in 2014

I have never asked my sisters or my Mom what they remember from their experience of leaving Mexico behind.  For me, it is La Plazita.  It is the place where I was once happy as a preteen.  The place where my best friends from middle school and I would meet and spend time together.  It is where we watched other kids get into fights, where we watched people wait for their public bus or take a cab.  Where many young teenage couples broke up or made up.  Also, the last place I looked as we were leaving San Luis Potosí and watched with a longing and sad feeling wondering if I would ever come back to this place and see it again.

It is not a fancy place or touristy attraction.  And although its aesthetics might not even be pleasing to the critical eye, for me, it is special and has a lot of spiritual and emotional meaning.

El Andador is also important to me as it is symbolic of my time living there in this neighborhood.  El Andador is where my grandmother used to take walks with her dog to distress herself.  When my grandfather was alive, I watched him cross these railroads every sunset always going somewhere alone.  I often wondered where he went.  Perhaps he was taking a walk, just like my grandmother, as an outlet from all of his problems.

el Andador or the walking strip is where my grandmother used to take walks

One day, God allowing, I will go back to these places.  Although I know I cannot go back in time and change the past, I can create new memories with my daughters in those places where I was once happy growing up.

la Plazita and el Andador in San Luis Potosí in 2014

 

 

 

In Memory of my Stepdad

As I was writing the next entry for my blog, I received a phone call from my sister in Illinois.  She was calling to let me know that my stepdad was in the hospital in Chicago and he was in need of a lung transplant.

Just when I had my eyes set on what I thought God wanted me to be paying attention to, He drops something else on my lap, saying, “I want you to pay attention to this first.”

At that moment, we didn’t know if my stepdad would receive a transplant right away, so I began making preparations to travel to Illinois.

I was very upset at the news.  Why now? When I was just beginning to write about my grandmother, who passed away almost four years ago.  When I was just beginning to write about the time when I lived in Mexico looking for that closure I didn’t have when I left there.

We didn’t know if my stepdad would be able to receive a transplant fairly quickly or if he had to wait a bit longer.  He called me to wish me “Happy Birthday” at the beginning of April, and every single day after that his health fluctuated between better and worse.

I had hopes that he would get better and that even if he needed special care after the surgery, we would have him alive and home.

The first week of April he seemed to be getting better and the doctors even said that he could come home.  He was released from the hospital on April 9th everything seemed to be going fine for a bit.  Then, on Friday of that week his health took a turn and had to be rushed to the hospital.

In the meantime, I wanted to wait for my entire family to be out of school and pack their things so we could drive to Illinois.  As a parent, packing and getting ready for a family emergency is so different than when one is single.  When we finally hopped in the car to drive seventeen or eighteen hours ahead of us, I was hopeful that we would make it on time enough to hug my stepdad at the hospital.  Unfortunately, my stepdad passed away that same Saturday night while we were still driving towards Illinois.

Hennepin Canal Park has fond memories of me and my stepdad running together

It’s been two weeks since his passing.  The hardest thing for me was having to go back to my hometown in Illinois to mourn for him.  I went to the stores there and everything reminded me of him: the local hardware stores where he liked to hang out, Walmart, McDonalds for his morning coffee, and going to work out at the YMCA.

Throughout all this, I remember most fondly that me and him shared a special interest, running.  He loved to run at the park and there was one particular park where we loved to go together to run.  After I left the military, I went back to my hometown in Illinois and continued my running routine.  One day, my stepdad suggested we should go for a run at this park called Hennepin Canal Feeder Bike Trail, which has one of the longest walking and running trails in Illinois.  I took him up on his suggestion and soon we began to go there almost every Saturday to run.

I see my stepdad and I running in this park like we used to.

One of the first things I wanted to do after his funeral and service was to go to this park.  It has so many memories.  I went there the day before I left Illinois, and I saw people riding their bikes and running and I began to picture in my mind me and my stepdad running together out in the horizon as we used to do.

I still don’t understand why things had to happen this way, but from my experience in walking with God for more than ten years, I do believe that it will be ok.  That I don’t need to know and understand everything right now, but when I am ready, He will reveal things to me.

I am grateful to God for this man.  He was a strong, God-fearing, gentle soul, with a huge heart and a great listener.  I will miss him greatly.

May you rest in Peace stepdad knowing that you are now with our Lord Jesus Christ.