Border Towns

︎︎︎︎︎ Cullen Arbaugh

︎ July 18, 2023

I’m on the bus heading to Nogales. We stopped in Hermosillo.
But we are heading to Nogales.
and then we get off the bus and take a taxi to a small town in the hills of the Sonoran Desert on the Arizona side.

Vipers everywhere. Kids crying. The smell of feet, sweat caked into the soles of old shoes. Dads holding little boys in their laps. The boys smell like piss, they are restless, they want to be home by now.

Moms are sleeping. Sleeping on the back of the bus and in the front. Moms are dreaming about deep, pale green lakes where they float, away from their families, kids, everyone, just alone in the middle of an endless green, deep darkness. Unafraid for the first time.

The driver of the bus is daydreaming not night dreaming cause if he did, everyone on the bus would be dead. He’s steady and conscious but his other half, his twin brain, is flying, flying over the Andes like an ancient, brave Condor, the bravest condor you could imagine. Eating bugs, lizards, other birds, sweeping across great expanses, mesmerized by the distances he’s traveled, the way landscape changes, the way his heart isn’t the same anymore. It isn’t a baby condor heart anymore; it’s grown, wounded, closer to death than birth, beating hard and not stopping yet.

I’m on the bus, waiting to get off in Mexico and walk to Arizona. And pick up a blue convertible in the driveway of a friend of a friend and drive it all the way back to where I didn’t come from.

Cullen Arbaugh is an actor and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He currently lives in Guadalajara, México. @cullenarbaugh