In the Alfalfa
The street is quiet as I stroll the rural Mexico neighborhood. My cellphone weighs heavily in my backpack. A small mountain looms just outside the neighborhood. It looks like a scout for the mountain range in the distance. This little barrio is my last stop. My year in Mexico 1984 has been one I will cherish. The people are friendly and kind. Strangers are a rarity and warmly welcomed. This neighborhood is miles from the nearby Aguascalientes and seems an oasis in the desert.
The houses are brightly painted as I make my way into the heart of the neighborhood. I hear the sound of a cow lowing from behind a wall of one of the houses. I stumble over the cobblestone street but smile at the quaintness of them. Suddenly, a young girl darts from between two houses sweating under the relentless Mexico sun. The first person I have seen. I watch her continue on past the end of the neighborhood and finally plunge into a verdant field of alfalfa and miraculously disappear, like the mirage I expect to soon appear over the baking streets. I turn full circle glad of the siesta that has gripped the residents and pull out my phone to document the scene. Do we stay or do we go? A chicken picks its way across the cobblestones. I wonder if chickens are on the manifest for Mars.
I wander slowly towards the green alfalfa and wonder how it is so green under the assault of the sun. As I approach, I see water gushing from a well filling various irrigation ditches that run off into the distance. I stand on the cusp of an agrarian paradise. Civilization behind and fields ahead with city only a smudge in the valley below. I breathe deeply. There is room here. Room for us all.
A thin voice reaches my ears. A nonsensical tune about cats and dogs and moms and dads and I realize I hear the girl. Singing to herself in the alfalfa. I pull out the phone quickly and record the song. Tears fill my eyes. She is lying in the alfalfa. Singing.
I reach down and brush the alfalfa shocked at how cool it is in the heat of the day. I step into the field and sink down to my knees letting the alfalfa swallow me in a riot of green ice for the first time that day.
I lay down letting the child's voice wash over me. A small seed of doubt works it way deep into my belly. I sit up and look again at the wide sky and the fields stretching into the distance and I am suddenly worried. The girls song has dwindled to a whisper and I smile. I think the siesta she was avoiding has found her at last. I worry about the sudden invasion of this space. I worry about the girl. Would her entire future be stolen for mine?
I retreat from the alfalfa loath to disturb the girl from her peaceful slumber. I slink from the neighborhood to the retrieval point.
My vote is Mars.
The sun beat down from high above baking the concrete and my hunched back. I watched as my sneakers kicked up a small puff of dust each time my foot made contact with the warm surface. My brain was clicking along at a slower pace than usual. It was summer after all. Thoughts didn't have to come and go rapidly.
I was thinking about how good the lemonade would taste at home when the air, ever so slightly, thickened in front of me. I froze. I slowly lifted my head and retreated a pace while I scanned my surroundings.
There was nothing. Not a single living thing moved in my field of vision. I looked to my right at the trees across the street there wasn’t even see a bird roosting there. A reluctant breeze stirred the under-watered, overcooked grasses of the empty lot to my left but still, nothing. I sighed. Something would happen, it always did. I sullenly made my way up the gentle slope leading to the undeveloped plot of suburbia and plopped myself down on the ground to wait. I had time to wait.
The hardest part about the "thick places" was I never knew if it was really important. I plucked at a withered blade of grass and shivered as I remembered the little girl I grabbed before a guy on a motorcycle ran her down lat summer. The 3-year-old had escaped 2 adults, one teen and a dog to dash 50 yards towards the street. The motorcycle had been cut off by a car changing lanes and had swerved near the sidewalk at the exact instant the little girl reached the curb.
Mostly though, it was stupid stuff. I had been with my mother a few years ago and had felt the tingle of the air coalescing. Since we were in a grocery store parking lot, I slowed my pace on the way to the car to see if I needed to intervene.
My mother had long ago resigned herself to the fact that her son had a remarkable knack for being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. I had never told her how I knew where those places were going to pop up. It seemed like it might keep her up at night. It kept me up at night and one tired Randall seemed enough in a household.
I was looking for cars, rocket propelled grenades when, Bam! It happened. Two old ladies ran right into each other. Hairpins and pocketbooks went flying. In the chaos of righting themselves, apologizing and gathering their things they came to an amazing realization. They had been classmates, in Kindergarten, in Maine. What an amazing coincidence! What were the odds of that happening they wondered aloud? People seem to wonder that all the time when I am around.
The blue-green crust of minerals crackled as I tiptoed across the hilly plain. The harsh heat of this planet's violet sun caused sweat to trickle down my back before the suit's water wicking fabric could pull it away from my skin. I walked close to a steep hillock enjoying the brief shade it cast. No matter what filter I employed on my visor, the view was dazzling and made my eyes water. My external sensor flared red and I froze. With the flick of a finger a hologram, visible to only me as it was protected on my visor, appeared. It was a composite of all the information my beleaguered ship had from its passive sensors as well as what my suit itself was picking up. I had paid dearly for this particular model and had not fully tested it yet. I sighed, I guess I would see if I had been ripped off...again. The hologram was a rendering of the surrounding plain. It was filled with detail in the path of the ship's sensor and faded to line outlines as the data was less and less dense. Within 100m of my suit the detail was amazing. I waved a hand like a child and was rewarded by my hologram waving too. My suit beeped again and I saw an area on the hologram outlined in crimson. It was moving.
Tessa slowly woke up. She could feel the cool sheets at her fingertips and the comforting press of the quilt her grandmother had lovingly stitched when she was a child. Her mind reached by habit for the roiling streams that tangled the air in her bedroom. She jolted fully awake but kept her eyes squeezed shut. Normally the first touch was calming. The sweet baby dreams of the toddler next door. The frenetic, guileless busyness of the squirrel that lived in the spreading oak in her front yard. Today though, anxiety, worry and panic battled for supremacy. There were many minds that were in great distress. She snapped her eyes open. It was going to be a long day.
When in the Course of human events, a people has elected representatives based on their social media presence rather than the content of their policies it becomes necessary for them to dissolve the political bands which formerly connected them together. To assume amongst themselves that if anything is going to change, they need to respect the opinions of their fellow man so that the result may be a new era of cooperation within the body politic.
Chasing the Wind
Wars are declared by nations but fought by men. Men who are largely the same but in different uniforms. They are loathe to kill and yet pull the trigger at imagined monsters who still bleed like men. The horror of a life cut short in mounds of husbands and brothers and uncles and cousins.
I started an eating challenge today aimed at changing unhealthy eating habits. We were challenged this week to only eat while eating, no multi-tasking allowed. I felt like a lazy bum sitting and drinking my smoothie, alone, with nothing else to do. I wasn't bored. I was restless. Itchy. As though some cosmic laziness police would be knocking at my door any second to haul me in for my 15 minutes of solitude. I wondered if perhaps as a society we are too busy to rest, too busy to meditate, too busy to just be. While I hope this challenge does help me connect more with what I put in my mouth I think it may help me to connect with myself too. Hello me, I've been missing me!