Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with two friends who grew up on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. They both went to high school in Texas and had friends in both cities, meaning they crossed the border regularly—sometimes daily—for parties, for work, or just to eat at their favorite restaurants. They discuss the blended culture that comes from growing up in two countries, how letters kept them close when they were apart, and the familial bond they developed now that they both live on the Texas side.
Fernando Baldazo, 51, works in international trade and lives in Laredo, Texas
Elizabeth O'Conor, 49, works in real estate and lives in Laredo, Texas
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: So you two grew up on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. What was that like?
Elizabeth O'Conor: Back then, there really wasn't a border. Some of my friends lived in Nuevo Laredo, like Fernando, and came to the school in Laredo, Texas, and vice versa. Going to Nuevo Laredo for lunch or dinner was no big deal. We would do that all the time, without even really realizing we were crossing a border. In high school, I had friends that lived on that side of the border, so I would go to their houses, go to their parties, and at one of those, somewhere, I met Fernando.