Friendly gestures

Brazos River
Photo by TexasExplorer98 / CC BY 2.0

The United States and Mexico shook hands for the first time somewhere along the Brazos River on a warm October afternoon in 1821.

“Do you always come this far into Texas?” Mexico asked, squinting into the sunlight.

“Sometimes,” America said after adjusting his hat. “Actually, I wanted to congratulate you on your independence.”

Mexico inhaled and a sense of pride, the kind many new countries felt after a hard fought struggle for sovereignty, filled his chest. “That means something, coming from you.”

“You mean that thing with Britain? Ah, that wasn’t… that was nothing. Actually, it was something. It was a big something.”

Mexico shook his head but kept a half-smile on his face. “Mine wasn’t as quick as yours, was it? But I’m here, now. I’m Mexican, now.”

“Yeah, we’re.. we’re it. Whatever it is. I don’t think things get any easier from here. At least, that’s what the Europeans are telling me.”

“Think they might be right. This time.”

America looked up from the grassy bank that he’d been softly kicking with his boot. “You know, Britain still has territory above us and around us and I don’t feel especially inclined to trust them.”

“Me neither.”

“So… we should stick together, right? When they see two strong, independent–and intimidatingly attractive–countries working together… they won’t want to conquer and divide parts of North America anymore.”

“Know what? That sounds pretty good.

A little over a decade later the two would be caught in a battle over Texas and another decade after that they would go to war. The next time they would shake hands would be before a “friendly” quick draw that a certain Canadian had to interrupt before someone got hurt. Disappointed but alive they would walk away to prepare for the next battle or war, as neighbors often do.

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