The day I turned 13, I started working as a farmworker along with my three siblings. My brothers and sister had left our home in South Texas every summer to work in Iowa’s cornfields for as long as I could remember. It was my first job, but it felt more like a rite of passage. My first summer away from home, away from my mom, and my first time contributing to our income. No pressure.
I’ve been thinking about my time in Iowa a lot while I shelter-in-place here in Texas. The days have seemingly all become one, and I mindlessly follow my daily routines as I did back then. The cornfields were daunting, much taller than I would ever grow to be. The days were as long as the rows of cornfields in which I detasseled cornstalks — removing the uppermost part of the stalk —row by row. I would get home and barely have enough energy to eat, let alone shower before I went to bed to do it all again the next day. The work was exhausting, and some days I saw no end.
That summer was the first of many I spent away from most of my family, in cycles of patience and impatience as I wished for it to end. I skipped celebrating my thirteenth birthday to spend the day detasseling, but I kne... Read more