Hey guys, I figured I’d take one of the quieter nights as I wait for the beach to empty from the night’s festivities of BBQ and beach fires/fireworks to sit down and tell a little story about last Thursday. Hope you enjoy.
It was Thursday night. I lay hot, tired, but unable to sleep. We’d been out on Mill Ave. Saying goodbye to a good friend moving to California, I’d said goodbye to another close friend just the night before. I’d come in about 2:20, and showered then lay down. My mind was ablaze with thought. As three AM wandered by, my mind wandered from thoughts of work at the Red Cross, fire season approaching, the tornados and people hurting and suffering in the central U.S. and east coast, to thoughts of what will be coming next. What adventure lies ahead?
Visions of African savannah, deep jungle, and grandiose waterfalls filled my sight, Rivers streaming in white torrents off high plateaus, plunging down into river valleys, feeding the bread basket of the world. I thought of lions, snakes, hippos… my mind wandered again, to the people, poverty and suffering, people without means, struggling and all too often failing to survive each day. I thought of a country where the average life expectancy is 36. Then I thought of the stories I’ve been told, stories of broken men and women waking up with the dawn, and humming, a hum that grew into song, and a song that was taken up by all those who woke with the day, happy to be alive regardless of the pain and tough times ahead. These people are excited to have made it another day, to see the sun rise… I half dreamed of stories of people with a hunger and desire for knowledge. Children who would run half a day to have as little as an hour learning something new.
As I lay in bed, the cool breeze of 4am pushed my thoughts of the future out of my mind. Instead, I focused on the now. A month left, and then… Africa. I needed to focus on the time I had left with the friends and family I will miss so much. I listened, and I heard the quiet pulse of the morning breeze, the pattering and chirp of the morning birds, singing and responding, nature coming alive from a night of rest, before the sun breached the horizon.
By 5am I’d already gotten sucked back into the future, thinking of the drive at 9am toward the south, down across Gila Bend, the fantastic architecture and history of Ajo’s historic district and mining heritage, into Lukeville and across the border into Sonora. As I slipped between daydream and memory we drove down the dusty roads, watching people clearing away the endless drifts of sand, work for monuments sake. Trying to keep what man has carved out of the sand and desert clearly demarcated. Memories flooded from the hundreds of trips before. We’d been coming down as a family since before we could walk. Before I was born, before my brother, our parents had made this drive, this leg of the trip down to meet the wild, clear waters of the Gulf of California.
I remembered clam & crab hunting in the estuaries, crab bakes on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, my mind slipped to the first time I’d tried an oyster with a pinch of lime and tequila. I remembered the beach, swimming for hours, with endless endurance. Exploring the tidal pools, learning the names of the fish and creatures which crawled beneath the blue churning waters as we uncovered them one by one. We had a fish tank set up in the trailer to bring our catch up. We’d then break out the encyclopedia of sea life for the region and identify and name each catch before we’d take them back and release them.
Back then, we were free. Just two boys, running the beach, exploring the ocean, living off the catch. In those days we had no worries. We’d come down for a month or more at a time, three of four times a year. The memories are of a perfect time. \
I thought of the big storms, so strong that the wind would pick you up off the ground. Waves 15-20 feet high, tearing the beach apart and building something new in its place.
I remembered the Harvest moon, looming over the ocean, and tides that went so far out, we’d seen reef and coral that we usually could only deep sea fish.
I was torn from my memories by the squeal of my cell phone. 8:45 rolled around. I slid out of bed, grabbed my stuff sack and my hammock, and headed out to meet my brother. I climbed into the car, and we set off, as my memories and day dreams became slow reality.