Sunday, July 08, 2007


(start at the beginning)

When I wake we're in the desert. The sun is low in the sky behind casting a pale cool glow before us. This is my favorite time of day out here, a time of birth but locked in a meditative moment where everything gives pause. The silence of the world is revealed in this place, alive but not quite awake. You can feel it, hear it, see it all in the calm light of morning, before the bleating cries of humanity gasp for breath, before they come to cut the umbilical.

Lila tells me that she couldn't drive the whole night through. She tried but the halos of sleep interrupted her vision until the road grew dangerous. We slept at a rest-stop somewhere back in Arizona, can't remember the name of the place. That's how she is. It's unforgivable, she says, an attempt at order in a natural world grown from chaos. She hates all of it; names, categories, definitions, lines, corners, rules, any type of structure that tries to contain the burgeoning dream of existence.

It's destructive limitation, blasphemy. No wonder our first impulse is for war, to cause endless destruction upon the environment. We're simply rebelling against the chains that bind us, the social order that refuses to allow us to ever be truly free. We're lashing out, attacking the very structure that we implemented in the first place. We build it then we destroy it. A vicious cycle of hate taken out on ourselves. A bit misguided obviously.

She's ranting again but I can hardly hear her. I'm lost in wonder so her voice blends into the world at slumber, a soft drone at the back of my brain. To my right a distant mountain transforms into a prone figure of a woman on her side with her arm raised so that the crook of her elbow is resting on her head. I'm mesmerized by her. She is the soul of the desert, a guardian from the edge of eternity, a witness to the days of wane. One day she will awake and rise up on sturdy legs and find her way home. I wait for it, almost expecting it to happen right now at this moment but like me, she's not quite ready to depart from this world.

Lila takes the offramp and turns away from my vision. I decide not to show her. It's something I need for myself. We head south, toward my past, a place I haven't seen for years. Everything feels different. Massive shopping malls that weren't there before stand next to the road like beckoning giants, fervently wishing for the company of strangers, growing fat off our greedy consumptive souls. Fe, fi, fo fum. I smell the blood of desperation.

Lila's right. Sometimes the world seems so sick.

This place used to be empty. Nothing but vast flat sand interrupted occasionally by growing crops, a shocking green against the dry landscape, with the permanent smoke of sprinkled water hovering overhead to keep their delicate leaves from shriveling in the bright heat. Nothing more. The hulk of two towns, one on the border, the other stuck out along the highway out in the middle of this huge valley. It was never a place for growth. It was just a place trying to survive between one destination to the next. It's a wonder civilization attempted to establish here at all but the febrile mind tends to reach beyond reason, hasty and wanting it conceives a consciousness that is clearly insane.

As we drive through town I begin to feel the hunger for nostalgia. Once we pass the new development I notice that nothing much has changed. The familiar landscape caresses hidden sections of my brain. Rickety convenience stores and tortillarias lean with precarious treason at the clean world of commerce we left behind. I spot the infamous flea market, already pulsing with life and I want to it to Lila, get lost amongst the stalls, taste the greasy tamales and drink sweet sugar water. I want to make her laugh of my memories. She would love it, the type of realm that she longs to inhabit but we turn away and drive to my grandmother's house instead.

When we stop, I climb out of my seat with a stiff body but for some reason I don't feel as terrible as I expected. Through the dust raised by the wheels of Lila's car, the second home from my youth is revealed and my mind wanders away from future regrets. I'm no longer burdened by the weight of age beyond years. I am swimming down into the boundless prepubescent optimism that strangles my heart. I jump upon the porch and shake the dusty screen door shouting my grandmother's name, and somewhere in all of it I catch the aroma of fruit baking in the oven.

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