this morning i watched a finch as it worked, a grey-yellow blur fleeting, flitting between the legs of the local miniature library– and i thought how must it be to be a finch? the whole of its being consumed with selecting the perfect strands of detritus for its far-flung nest?
Evolution is not an inevitable march forward into perfection; it is an unending, unyielding, messy red. Like death, he visits us all. Like death, he is not cruel.
The current iteration of our world, our bodies, ourselves is the best it will ever be! The great bias of history.
We forget we are the next in the line of progression to be bumped off eventually and maybe we are the failed branch in the family tree. It is not for us to know. It will be those digging up the impressions of our bones on rock our names and dreams forgotten who decide.
Cremation is cheap but the laws stating that bones cannot be left whole appall me. I want those significant and alive to have my hair and teeth to make with them what they with and I know with certainty that I do not want to be embalmed and buried in steel and concrete. I prefer to go straight into the ground, in a shroud– some fabric that will rot but maybe embroidered with runes and blessings– but where? Bury me in the Sierras on the East side of Rose below the treeline. Bury me with flowers. Horsemint and melissa and columbine and sage. Burn dragonsblood graveside so my father will be welcome there. Pour wine over my stone marker. I’m weak and afraid and I want to be remembered.
Where does freedom begin?
With the absence of fear. Where, despite the void or because of it there is a river of potential heretofore unnavigable, unknown. The water rushes and sings grey-green off the mountain dragging down moss, old bones, bees, poison hemlock. You never learned how to swim but the best part about being free? No one will push you into the water. Come and sit on this boulder in the dappled sun and let your toes get a feel for the snowmelt water rushing past and let the cosmic radiation burn the rot of stagnation right off your back. It’ll hurt a little but you’ll be better for it. Sit a while and talk. Stretch and take up all the space you never could before. Take up all the space you need.
Ink bruises in high enough concentration turning the backs of pages brown and green. Bruises unhealed become sores when the skin sloughs off and, undrained, left wet and unclean, they rot. This is why I refuse to leave the desert content to live on the river with her shifting shores. Rivers are supposed to have banks not shores but here– landlocked and lake-fed heading west for the lowlands where she will attempt to fill the unfillable– there is a memory of the sea. We were beneath it once. Primordial salt floating beasts the likes of which only whales and immortal jellyfish remember. Whales and jellyfish and the desert.
The river is two feet above her banks roaring with heavy white water ever eastward from the mountains.
Yesterday, a man threw himself into her and a helicopter sharing my name spent the afternoon looking for him. She found no trace of him, no corpse, no clothes, nobody gasping for life.
The news reported that he fell.
I can hear her over my headphones, rushing grey, eddies tumbling over each other taller than I stand. She’s overfull and if she’s like this any longer the trees that have grown alongside her since I was an infant will rot away from the roots, going the way of the wild grasses, and be swept toward the mountains in the east until they, too, cause more flooding. There will be still more water for men to drown themselves. No reservoir can relieve her.
The Catholic church across the bridge with its stained glass and polished bronze doors counts out the hour with a bell as old as its presence in the city but try as it might she is still louder; that must count for something.
Today keeps getting better and better and I am telling you this without an ounce of cynicism or suave sarcasm. I woke up with the sunrise and my cat’s purring vibrating the pillow beside my head. I spent fifteen minutes taking pictures of bees among spears of lamb’s ear in the hopes of making a brilliant girl smile. The sun has been the barest kiss across my skin; she’s shy this spring but I do my best to encourage her. I spent another fifteen minutes smiling my own smile like a loon because of the smell of iron and sagebrush and salt beneath clean laundry and his arm around my shoulders. I could spend all day in the sun and I would never feel quite as warm and soft as I did in that moment. If I could I’d spend the rest of the day braiding my hair with honeysuckle and the scent of Earth I caught from him but instead I’ll smile and write and keep count of the gifts people don’t seem to realize they’re giving me.
Reasons to Move to Reno:
- you can join the rest of the local yokles making reno eNVy puns (we even have a tourist shop that sells shirts around this theme)
- the weather is just as reliable and results in just as much hilarity as a well-thrown d20 that the DM didn’t plan for
- when Burning Man comes and The Burners with their Burnermobiles in a great, unending caravan descend upon the city to buy up every last drop of water and grain of granola before braving the Playa dust and neon, their very presence treats us all to a free, daily art spectacle
- you can hear gunshots across the belly of the valley on a clear night around 3 a.m. but you can hear the train call, too, lonesome and travelling somewhere new and every time you’ll wish you were on it
- The Lady in the Mountain announces herself with each snowfall. the silhouette of an etin visible from just about everywhere in the city where she lies graceful in the southwest as late as May. we miss her dearly in the ovens of July
- the sky here is a different shade of blue than anywhere else in the world; yes, different than Denver, too
- You haven’t lived until, after years of drought that panic Clark County (another bizarre but parallel world) and fire seasons that blanket the valley in ash with children at play in surgical masks with some adults going so far as to wear goggles to protect themselves, the wind grows chilled then it rains. It rains for twenty minutes straight out of the blue. The scorched earth greening before you can blink, drinks, drinks, drinks and you, too, stand outside shirtless under the sparse clouds spattering the still-hot ground with blessed water. Sterility and dust stink of the stinging rich stench of sweet, wet sage and you know with certainty: the drought is finally over.
That is why you should move to Reno.