Thursday, August 18, 2016

Inside Out

The heat of summer days has a way of turning everything inside out. Another fire has erupted in South LA, charring through bushes brittled by desert droughts. We are still far from needing to worry, about an actual fire, that is. Our pavement looks parched, lit, in fact, by boundless rays of white flames floating between its bone-dry surface and the cloudless skies.

It hurts my eyes to look.

The beach carries a high tide and the last of the summer crowds. A good number of schools have reopened for fall, reclaiming those families from the sand. The swells are adolescent small, but the ocean is glassy. I run on the wet sand, passing groups of surf-camper kids too young to fall into the clutches of schools. Their moms watch from the pier above, face tied into knots. A group of surfers pass me dripping salt and sand, surf board leashes. A bald man in a low camp chair hugs a professional camera between his legs, its long range lens pointed at me.

I wave.

News would reveal later that the US swimmers may have lied about being robbed in Rio, Brazil at gunpoint to cover up a bathroom incident. It reminds me of searching for bathrooms on New Year's eve in that tight little square in Hong Kong, while waiting for the ball to drop, the countdown to begin. Mike had been drinking as we walked along the crowded sidewalks, listening to the sounds of celebration and felt at peace for being by ourselves, strange for being in a country where one's allowed to drink on the sidewalk. The evening hadn't resulted in anything but fireworks for us. The bathroom lines had been ridiculous, impossible. But Mike found a way in and I had spent the evening dry in anticipation of such problems. Less lucky for those swimmers, being pulled off the plane and spending the night in a Brazilian police station doesn't seem like their idea of fun.

Mike had also been robbed in Rio after returning alone from a party. He was doing a six month study aboard program there. He moved back after the incident, ending the program midway.

There is a lot I don't know about Brazil, the world or myself. It is impossible to find a mirror that can shine the light on one's inside. And for something that much bigger than yourself you simply lose perspective in the same way that is still different--an ant crawling through the forest trail can't see or anticipate dapples of sunlight filtering through the canopy. It is a mystery to him or her when light changes from dark to light and back again. It has no choice but to plow forward and continue its path, hauling weight much too heavy for its body and size, yet somehow not its capability.

I reel against these thoughts as I uncap my pen and set about to write. About what? I can't say. The next chapter has no title. The only truth I know is what I can see, the small patch of light, or shadow set onto my narrow and determined path.

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