Omar and Arturo, two sons of Concho, have graduated from the 8th grade and are moving on.
They seemed inseparable at times. Two teenagers, Omar and Arturo gravitated toward each other during this last year in their school. They each moved to Concho from different towns over a year ago. The school year has ended and maybe they will spend time together over the summer. In the fall they will both be attending the Blue Ridge High School in the Lakeside. Leaving junior high school and entering high school shows on their faces — it’s good time in their lives. Those around them admire the strength they both have as students and as focused young men.
Their friendship was a looming energy at times like a bubble from the past that we all had with a friend at that age. Arturo is the taller one. In fact, he is taller than anyone else in his class and the quietness and the stoic expression is pervasive in his personality. It’s that way until we talk about the future and what he wants to do once he gets to the adult side of life. A discussion about his father who recently had heart surgery begins. At this juncture Arturo becomes fluid and focused on being a cardiologist. That would be after the Navy and working at something in the medical field. The love he has for his father lights up his goals, and his life takes on a course of action. A plan ensues from the otherwise big and silent Arturo.
“From across the room I could hear my father’s heart ticking,” he said. He tapped the desk. Every tap was his life going forward to honor someone he loved.
Omar is agile-minded and fast to laugh, smile, and forgive anyone for anything.
“When I first came here it was scary,” Omar says.
It took time for the future to seem real. So many adjustments for him. His family is in New Mexico, and Mexico, and his aunt, uncle and cousins embrace him as their son.
Concho holds it’s children close as a community. Especially at the school where teachers know the kids, even the ones that aren’t in their classes. Omar wants to go into the Army. He wants to defend his country. America is his home and both he and his friend, Arturo, will contribute to the picture of the place that honors the sons of its sons. He listened attentively to his teacher and at times answered with inaudible words thick with an accent from his life before he got here. He wanted to be the good son. The good boy who makes his family and country proud. It’s in his face.
He stared. He dissected words. Then asked what his teacher meant when he worked on overdue schoolwork that may have kept him back from the 9th grade. He went forward with every requirement to make the grade so that his future could be solidified for he and his family.
The two boys are resilient in different ways. I was next to them at different times of the day during their final hours at school when the grades were in, and reviews of what was, and what will be snapped over their desks and slithered into their lockers. I was the ghost of their past, the purveyor of their current moments, and the questioner of their future.
They are moving on toward the doors of what’s possible. Everything is possible in these United States. Concho will be the place they came from, where their ideas formed to play sports, and become a part of the military for the country they love. Two sons that play chess together during quiet time, the two kings on the board forge ahead to win, and laugh when they get beaten. They are proud of their opponent. They listen to my questions barely taking their eyes off the board.
“I want to play sports in high school,” Arturo says. “If he plays sports, we will know each other.”
They will no doubt catch each other’s time and footsteps in the halls of high school. One perhaps the rising star, the other learning from his friend. At times it’s not easy to tell who the winner or the runner is up and the possibility of being in either place is in both of them.
Arturo says, “I learned to adjust to life in Concho. I had to dig out cactus when we first got here. We moved during the monsoon and there were flies, mud, and lots of mosquitos.”
“I am more comfortable now,” Omar says, “I know everybody and am happy.”
Two sons from other worlds met at school and the pull of their friendship was perhaps based on the strength of the vulnerability of being the new kids. They were fortunate to find each other. Good friends are hard to find. Other friends they have made along the way have watched them grow. I’ve been watching them for months. They seemed like they knew each other their whole lives.
They are sons of Concho, and we know that he belongs to all of us.
Kareena Maxwell lives in Concho with her husband in a WWII styled Quonset hut. She’s a ten-time award winning author of seven books as well as the novel “The Birds of Concho.”