Monday, November 28, 2005

A Loss for Words

I was dining--alone, as I now always did--at the Pink Adobe in Santa Fe. I’d heard that Sam Shepard ate there regularly when he was living in town and, since I liked his stuff well enough, I was hoping some of the inspiration would rub off on me. It had been some time since I’d come up with anything usable—at least anything I’d dare show anyone—and I was getting desperate. Actually, I was desperate in more ways than just that one. Awhile back all of my moorings had been cut and since then I’d been staying out in the desert, moving from one town to the next as boredom or panic dictated. Mostly I’d been staying on the outskirts of slightly-seedy, sand-choked little towns like Winslow, AZ, Española, NM, and Elko, NV. But for the last few days I’d gone a bit upscale.

I’d actually begun to think that being monolingual was my main problem. Aside from the ubiquitous Spanish, all around me I heard Russian, French, German, and even ancient Indian dialects that tribal law stated could not be written down or recorded. It had occurred to me that, for the first time in my life, English was failing me and perhaps these other languages contained the words I wanted. But then I figured that the language required to say whatever it was I thought I needed to say probably didn’t even exist and, anyway, I was certainly in no shape to invent it.

I was mulling over these and other similar thoughts, feeling suitably dour as I worked at my enchiladas, when I noticed a boy and girl through the window. Or, rather, I noticed the girl. Chestnut brown hair, black leather coat, dark blue wool skirt, and light grey stockings. As I watched her talk to this boy I became transfixed. She seemed very serious and did not smile, although he occasionally did. I watched them for some time until I had finished my meal and paid for it.

I walked across the Old Santa Fe Trail, looking at the girl as I did. Our eyes met and I held my glance a beat longer than would be usual, then walked up the steps to the San Miguel Mission. I stood out front of the old church and looked down on the couple. To give myself cover, every now and then I pretended to check my watch and look impatiently up and down the street. After a short time the two embraced and, as the girl rested her head on the boys shoulder, she looked directly at me. I held her stare and could see that her eyes, seeming now to me quite willful, were a soft grey, the same color as her stockings. Very nice, I thought. But was the boy a friend, brother, or lover? Not that I really cared. A guy I knew once said that boyfriends are a little like herpes: they tend to go away for awhile. Of course, that guy was dead now and I never had been able to find out just what had happened, although I'd been told a gun had been involved.

The two parted and I watched the girl walk down the street and go into a coffee shop. I thought for a moment. I knew that if I went after her, regardless of what happened or did not happen—because, let’s face it, nothing in this world is a sure thing—I’d hate myself for it. Then again, self-hatred was an emotion I’d recently taken to cultivating nearly to the exclusion of all others. I think it was probably right then that a series of events was put into motion that I would indeed come to dearly regret. Yet I hesitated and for a brief instant on that cool, clear fall day, another face flickered warmly in my mind. Quickly I pushed it away and thought again of those soft grey eyes before starting down the road. (CONTINUED)

I know, photos of Santa Fe, NM would've probably made more sense here, but instead it's more shots from Acoma Pueblo, Sky City, NM. Well, except the bottom one, which is Petrified Forest National Park, AZ.


Anonymous said...

Compelling. What happened next?

jmhouse said...

Well, hmm, something bad! To be continued...?