less polluted air.


i thought she was talking to her sister downstairs. i waited as long as possible to come down, as i wanted them to have some time together. i picked up my phone, played all the words with friends games i had going. after that, there was nothing left to do with my phone. i went downstairs. there was a girl there, sitting at the table, and she had her back turned to me. she wore a red sweater and her sleeves covered her hands. we introduced ourselves, and i sat at the table.

i didn't know what to say. i picked up the sunday paper, pulled out the funnies. it was already snowing in garfield. the two girls talked about some people they knew, they were catching up on things. and then my friend told her i'd applied to the peace corps. she seemed to be interested in that, so i said my piece. the conversation then went back to her, and had she ever done any traveling?

yes, she had done some traveling. she was a geologist, and she traveled to some sites where her company had mines. i thought that was very fascinating, a girl geologist who worked on mine stuff. she told me about a particular time that she went down to bolivia, and she was involved in what she called an "express kidnapping." did i know what that was? no, i didn't. she explained: a taxi picked up her and a coworker, and the driver took her to a shady part of town, and then the doors flew open, and then she had a knife pointed at her, and the hoodlums demanded she hand over her debit card.

her spanish was good enough that she could explain she only had a credit card, and therefore they could not withdraw cash with the card she had. her coworker, however, who had his debit card with him was robbed of $1,500. what went through her head, i wondered. did you totally freak out? she didn't freak out. she was too shocked to really think anything. she did think she would be raped, and that her coworker would freak out, and it would all end in a bloodbath.

but back to you, she said. she apologized, but she wanted to know more about the peace corps, and why did i want to apply? i had some answers to that. it was all very nice. we were two adults sitting at a table in a beautiful home in northern idaho, and it was sunday morning in the pinnacle of fall, and i had just eaten a blueberry waffle. i answered as honestly as i could. she said that she would like to do the program, too, but that she wanted her boyfriend of five years to marry her already, so that they could volunteer together.

at some point, the two girls started talking about whether or not teach for america was a good program. one thought it was, the other didn't. i thought it was awkward when they would both talk at the same time, and i just had to listen to this stream of voices, criss-crossing each other. i had no opinion on it. all i knew was that i once had a tough teaching job, and i didn't want to see it through. that was just irresponsible on their part, she reassured me.

later, another friend showed up, and the four of us went for a walk. there was a bit of a break in the clouds, but for the most part, it rained. we walked in the rain, me and three girls. why was it that i always ended up hanging out with girls? i took pictures of an old barn, some horses, a hillside. i didn't really like walking in the rain. i just wanted to be in a warm bed, asleep. it was a bit of good, though, breathing in the air that wasn't as polluted as city air. it was good to be in the company of people i sort of knew.

we went back in the house, and while the other two girls loaded up the car, the two of us just sat there alone in the living room. for some reason, she had put on her red-framed glasses, and she pushed them up the middle with her index finger. she told me she had to go home and study for the g.r.e. she wanted to study international studies or something like that, and maybe get a job in the foreign services, maybe one day become a diplomat. i didn't know anything about it.

but i did enjoy just sitting there, listening to her talk, while the wood stove kept me warm.

1 comment:

Ross said...

Very nice writing. I love that it was snowing in Garfield already. This piece really captures the way a moment can stretch out forever when you're enjoying something that you know can't last, and have accepted that and are just sitting in it, enjoying the experience.