When the shuttle finally arrived in Las Cruces, the sun had sunk beyond the horizon, and I was happy to find that I would be dropped off first, in the small residential neighborhood of my Aunt’s off the highway. The light of day was barely visible as the shuttle approached the long, one-story house of my Aunt Eve. When I got out of the shuttle I was surprised to notice that the air was incredibly humid. I could see the dogs peering over the fence and the RV parked in the driveway. She had two Golden Retrievers and a German Pointer. As I approached the house, the dogs began barking and leaping, sounding the alarm of my arrival. I went to the front door, which was painted with a heavy coat of brown paint that bubbled due to sun exposure. I tapped on the thick door - there was no doorbell. The dogs continued to bark, and my knuckles only created a thick dull thud against the heavy door. One of the neighbors stared at me from his driveway as I made another attempt to knock. Finally, I saw my Aunt Eve. She greeted me from the side door, as I stood waiting at the front.
“Come in this way,” she shouted. I could see a tiny woman with the same perm, which now stood like a white dandelion halo around her head. As I approached, Eve proudly displayed her toothy smile in the way I had remembered as a kid.
“Wow, your hair’s white as snow,” I said.
“I just can’t be bothered with dying it anymore.” She hugged me with her wiry, yet muscular arms.
“Come inside.” She said. “I like to enter through the kitchen. It’s just me in this big house, so I don’t use the front room anymore. The main entryway just remains shut all the time.”
Aunt Eve was strong in ways that transcended her frail frame. Like my other aunts, she lived alone and pretty much did everything for herself. Although she had a boyfriend for fifteen years, she never married, nor did she want to marry. She proudly expressed her independence from marriage as a convenient way for a woman to stay sane with the dignity of being financially solvent. She was no Oprah Winfrey, but her sprawling home demonstrated that she had done well for herself. Like everyone else on my dad’s side of the family, Eve was somewhat frugal. Great bargains were a subject only secondary to the bashing of men, which my dad’s sisters could agree upon as a primary subject for conversation.