“Paradise looks the same,” I tell the kids as we get out of the rental car at my Uncle Mick’s house. We’re exhausted from nearly 2000 miles of highway. The glare of lights from our tribal casino, The Paradise, is even more egregious than I’d remembered it.Uncle Mick’s yard has two red-and-turquoise domes hovering over a Walmart-size parking lot less than one hundred yards from his fence line. The Yuma Reservation is as ugly as ever, but it’s still kind of home.
When our children were little their Italian immigrant father, Simone, worked at the casino. This was after we decided to give up the roaming lifestyle, sell our RV, and settle down on the rez; before my tribe’s government built a second fancier casino called “The Q” along the highway to San Diego and we packed our kids up and left Yuma for good. Uncle Mick’s house was once Little Mick’s house, but when Little Mick was paroled after trying to shoot his neighbor, and went on the lam in Mexico for trying to do it again, Uncle Mick and Aunt Mona moved in to take care of the mortgage.