On Las Vegas & getting old-er-ish or Tutus forever

writing

It’s 2 am in Vegas. After an epic weekend of hanging and partying with my besties, I’ve spent most of my last day here alone, marooned in my hotel room, binge watching Ally McBeal on Netflix and eating junk food. It’s what I call regrouping. Anyways, I am well primed for a depressing, esoteric sort of rant. I promise I will in the end have a point.

Being the neurotic, deep-&-over-thinking type I’ve always struggled with just about every aspect of the human condition. I think I had my first existential crisis as a tottering, slobbering toddler with many more to follow in its wake. I envy people who can glide through life largely unaffected by or unaware of the preposterousness of the entire ordeal, and I don’t say this disparagingly. Don’t they recognize that we are all literally born to hazard; the human experience, though punctuated by some occasional variant joys, is really one of perennial exigency and loss. Still, most just mosey on; they grow, grow up, they find joy, have sex, make love, squeeze themselves into various conventions of living (some with more ease than others), they grasp at satisfaction (however slippery it might be), search for meaning (or invent it), bury their loved ones, make or birth new ones, and, after brief quarter and midlife crises, they finally settle into old age. Seamlessly, living becomes about mitigating the pains and indignities of aging, bouncing grandchildren on knees, reminiscing about days long gone, afternoon naps and weekly games of bridge. Those are actually the lucky people. The unlucky ones might not even get to grow old, or they do, but alone, perhaps ailing beyond the assuaging powers of medicine or without the attentions of loved one. Yes, this is the price of living, it is at best a lottery, and in a way we’re always loosing, even when we are winning.

To many it just is what it is, and I envy the “is what it is” lot. They are the lucky ones. I guess they can also be seen as the “glass half full” people or maybe even just “full”. Though I do not possess their optimistic take on life, I bask in its warm glow like a cold blooded reptile sprawled out beneath the sun. I married such a sun, and every day he gives me the warmth and the stability I need to remain earthbound. In his infinite wisdom he lets me be me, do me, whining, sinking, grappling and struggling, all side-effects of my coping ineptitudes and my free spiritedness.

Although I am mostly just baffled by time’s passing…I, more precisely, don’t do well with what it means for me, the limitations it puts on me, and so I am always looking for answers in an answerless void, trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I’ll probably go through life feeling forever like I’m missing something important but intangible, like wings or a unicorn; or maybe answers, or a time machine, a dead person, a path not taken, a thrill not had, a youth not fully realized and all too quickly gone. That last one, the one about youth waning, is at the center of all my current grumblings.

A couple of nights ago, while here in Vegas, I had occasion to not only feel 16 (as I always do) but act 16 too. I wore a rainbow tutu, took Molly with my friends (which I hadn’t done in well over a decade), made it rain at a co-ed strip joint, danced all night with a sweet, truly beautiful (inside and out) much younger boy and ate a mountain of French Fries on my bed before finally passing out, fully dressed, on a pile of ketchup packets and just in time for the sunrise. It was an indisputably fun, unforgettable sort of night, but in the end it left me feeling sad and dispossessed.

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It was a wrinkle in time, which, for the sake of all things right and orderly, had to be quickly ironed out. I resurfaced from it sorely aware of how little it belonged to me, and how soon there’ll come a time when It won’t belong to me at all. It’s not that I want to be 16 again, or experience any dissatisfaction with my life, really, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world just about most of the time. For all the things I have, most can only hope for. My family is my amazing everything, my husband is my rock & my best friend, my few good friends are more than just “good”, I have fun hair and even a pony 😛 etc. etc.; It isn’t that I want to be 16, it is simply that I never again will be 16, ever. NEVER. The gap is set to steadily widen, and widen it does. Simple enough, pathetic even, I know.

I am suddenly facing the looming limitations and expectations, which come with being fortunate enough to enter that wretched fourth decade of life, the one that marks indisputably the onset of adulthood. It has left me grateful, sure, but even more so, for a time, perturbed and kind of robbed. For most women who face their 30’s with uncertainty it is an experience which is something like a midlife crisis; for a woman like me, one stuck in perpetual childhood, it is worse. It feels like a merciless suffocation (not the fun kind), in most dramatic terms it feels like a dying of the light. I even had a nightmare last night about turning 31, a full on nightmare, I was relieved to wake up and remember that in reality there was a handful of months left before the event….but then I realized it’s ONLY a handful of months.

When I turned 30 this year, I did so with pronounced bravado, much more so actually than any of my previous birthdays, but I can honestly say that I am now having a painfully delayed reaction to it. I’ve had a good run of my 20’s, I like who I was and how I grew. I wasn’t a perfect human, but I learned life’s lessons dutifully, I strived for self-betterment, I sought quality and depth in most things. I can say that I am an ethical person, my integrity means everything to me, I am uniquely committed to living honestly, I mostly do the right thing, I say what I mean and more than I should…. but still, inside, inside I often just feel so little and so 16. And the further away I move from 16, chronologically speaking, the more I feel like a panic. Like something is moving in on me, grimly, and I cannot quell it. Neither can I properly incorporate it into my own-personal-human experience. I am lost in time, and time is no less lost in me.

Although the rainbow tutu belongs to me, I worry that I won’t belong to it much longer, and there in lies the crux of it all. Having cried into my ketchup stained pillow for a good part of the hour while typing this up, I feel slightly relieved, which leads me to believe that this whole rant might have been partially hormonal. Anyways, there is always Botox and lying about my age I suppose, that should buy me a few extra years. Tutus forever for me and mine. Tootle-loo.

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Mine and Yoohoo’s thoughts on Planes, Texas and God

humor, writing

So I am back on the plane, leaving Houston, baby. I’m happy to report that there is nothing for me to gripe about, as Yoohoo & I have a whole row of seats all to ourselves. No more will these airlines milk me for that additional 37$-45$ right before boarding for a better seat. I used that fancy college education and beat them at their own game, my mom’s so proud. I looked on my flight itinerary at the seats available for upcharge, but instead of buying one I took a screen shot. I was able to discern from the rather self explanatory seating chart that just like on my flight to Houston there was no shortage of these superior seats. Then I strategically, ignored the seat assigned to me and sat in the cluster of upcharge seats, figuring that even if by some odd chance, someone actually pays for one and bumps me, I can just move one row ahead to a similar situation without any fuss. It worked. Yoohoo and I flew peacefully, prostrated across 3 seats with not a soul bothering us the entire time. There was no mouth breather to my right, no Bible clutcher* to my left, just terrible airplane hummus and the gratification of finally getting our due and our elbow room. Yoohoo was pleased, as I am sure is evident from his facial expression. He insisted on taking that airplane selfie for posterity.

I saw some stuff on my trip, stuff that changed me. There were kids riding in the back of pick up trucks on the highways, with their buzzed heads bopping up and down as they peaked out over the edges of the truck beds.

There was no Groupon or Starbucks in Wharton, but there were cockroaches. I will say though that I don’t suffer from that socially conditioned aversion to cockroaches. I see them as just bugs with excellent adaptive mechanisms, at times I even find them charming, mysterious and impressive.

Men in Texas can and are not afraid to dance. More so, they ask women to dance. Which is very, very lovely. Something I’ve realized I’m missing in my neck of the woods. They dance with them respectfully, they don’t grind on them or try to cop a feel, in that way the culture appears to have maintained that elusive air of vintage romance and courtesy.

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Service industry moves in Wharton at glacial pace. I noticed that buying anything that requires packing of any kind, even as simple as being put away into a plastic bag is a losing proposition. After a while I just started saying that I don’t need a bag, grabbing whatever I was purchasing off the counter and bouncing out.

Apparently the community spirit is so strong here, that even pooping is a group activity. Rad & I did christen that bathroom, in case you were wondering.

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In the honkiest and only bar in Wharton there was the most modern jukebox I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. A flat touch screen wall contraption with some kind of a web library set up allowed you to run elaborate and comprehensive music searches to compile extensive musical cues. Perhaps this is more standard than I realize, as I rarely go out, but still, not here in backcountry. I’m sure they’ll create some kind of a sensor system on that machine going forward, as I took full advantage of its vast musical selection and filled the bar with N’sync and Britney Spears. Best 20$ I ever spent. Here is Rad doing her pool shark thang.

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There is smoking indoors and its ubiquitous, there is also totally gag inducing tobacco chewing. I don’t have any idea how this repugnant practice could have started, I understand the aesthetic appeals of smoking, the cigarette, the drag, the exhalation of smoke clouds… but tobacco lumps being tucked away into cheeks like tumors, the lip flexing to stretch itself over the unsightly protrusion; the spitting, hacking and expectorating. Ew.

This place is very environmentally conscious. Used tampons & toilet paper get recycled.

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I consider myself quite adaptable and somewhat fringy, but when Rad took me to Numbers, a dance club in Houston, for a hot minute I felt out of my element. Numbers turned out to be a Goth club. Although there was a definite leaning towards latex, leather, metal and wigs, the club was filled with people of many and varying creeds. Surprisingly the unifying theme appeared to be inclusion. A trans woman with a face mercilessly mangled by scars from an old skin affliction was like something out of nightmares and dreams. She danced beautifully, moving in the pulsating strobe light like liquid. Her 8 inch platform boots, cut out leather shorts with many straps, torn black tights, buckles, long curled nails, a black bustier cinching her in, black bangs and a tall long pony tail, were all a part of an elaborate costume either connecting her to or hiding her from the world. I could not tell, and failed not to stare. There were many others, all equally creative, different and alike. I danced amongst them thinking about their lives, I wondered what kind of a conversations we would have if ever I had the cause or the gull to speak with them.

A senior age couple dressed in every way like my parents in law or accountants, danced in the middle of the floor. They were completely at home, completely into each other, moving up and down in unison. He had a studded leather collar around his neck to which a chain leash was attached, she held on to its other end. Radhika danced around like a ball of wholesome energy, her blond curly hair in bows, her flowy little dress, she moved energetically as she does across the dance floor, bouncing of the unsuspecting dancing goths like a ray of erratic, directionless sunshine.

On the drive home we talked about God. Rad is very Christian while I am a well known heathen atheist. But it was one of the few conversation I’ve ever had with anyone on that subject where I really wasn’t compelled to roll my eyes uncontrollably or jump out of the moving vehicle. I understood her God, I understood the solace she finds in reading the Bible & in praying. I respected her open, flexible mind and reasoned that at the very least I owed her the same. She talked about the living word, about what one like herself could get out of it, the method by which she finds guidance in faith, the ways in which her worship connects her to the eternal and the limitless. We talked about true acceptance. I found her religion to be strange, as all religiosity is to me, but also beautiful. And therein learned something new about myself.

Rad & Zippy

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On the culture shock of Wharton, Texas & some of its subsequent charms

writing

At first arrival, I’ll confess I thought I might not be able to enjoy myself in Wharton. However over the last couple of days Wharton has grown on me just a little bit. It has its dubious charm. In Wharton, Texas I am looked upon as skinny. Repeatedly and much to my jubilation people have asked if I am a model. Whilst I battle the bulge in Scottsdale and Los Angeles, here I could stand to gain a few. This has definitely played a part in my recently improved opinion of the town. 😀

Disclaimer: It is always hard to speak critically or even just observationally about anything from the vantage point of privilege. Automatically shadows of snobbishness, conceit or arrogance are cast on the narrative. I do not think that I am better than anyone because of the advantages afforded to me in life. The place from which my opinions stem is not one of disparagement or disregard, I am aware of the difficulties faced by these areas, aware of why things are as they are, I do not discount the individuals when I speak in generalities, or underestimate the value of their characters and souls.

Although I realize that many areas in the U.S are much like Wharton, and it is by far not the worst or the most rural; to me, it presents with a real culture shock. This experience is akin to that of a person from a developed country visiting a third world country. I cannot help but be slapped in the face by first hand awareness of how different people can be, how varied their priorities, their tastes, their standards of living and ambitions.

Lululemon and Starbucks do not govern the lives of people in Wharton, but neither does what could be conventionally described as “good taste”, moderation, aesthetics, nutrition, fitness, health, education or dental care…etc. To me the lifestyle led by most here is starkly different from what I know. But admittedly, I had lived a somewhat insulated life, without having much need to ever leave my primary comfort zones. Where I thought there was an economic gap between south and north Scottsdale, I think there is a planet gap between Scottsdale and Wharton. Everything from the pace to the motivations of life here is different. In Wharton people seem to either work very hard or barely at all. Farming and fracking are the things putting bread on the tables of a vast majority, as is every fast food franchise known to man. Few here have heard of such luxuries as Trader Joes, Wholefoods,Tofu…. Organic, yoga or Crossfit are not terms widely used or understood. Ordering coffee at the single coffee shop in town is a strange and somewhat frustrating experience, it’s almost as if although we speak the same language we cannot reach an understanding. I realize this is because people here do not alter their orders and do not express arbitrary preparation preferences, like people in LA are accustomed to doing. It is not a realm for the pampered or the particular. I have done my part thus far in giving LA girls a decidedly bad name.

There is no shortage of plump cows, languidly parked under shady trees and in fields, living their lives beneath the Texas sky on God’s green earth. As all animals should. Such sights feel to my heart like hugs. People are extremely nice, kind, polite, they appear to be quite united in their communal humanity. This is the advantage of a small town, without a great socio economic discrepancy. Considerations of wealth, ambition, vanity, competition, city stress, do not afflict these people or divide them in the ways that they do in other areas. It is a simpler world that I think breeds a kinder folk. As far as I can tell racial tensions don’t prevail here, people seem to live on equal footing, healthily intermixed. I can’t be sure, but from my limited observations, humans are less divided by race in this small town than in many other liberal, more cosmopolitan areas on the west coast, which is ironic. On the west coast although equality is a highly esteemed and hailed aspiration, it is not necessarily as much of a reality as it appears to me to be in Wharton. Again I think this is because socio economically everyone is in a somewhat same boat here. They occupy their small world together, they farm the same land, frack the same ground and drink the same beer in the only bar in town.

P.S. Lena, is the little Polo pony I got to ride on the 30000 acre ranch which is home to the Polo farm, and it was a truly beautiful thing. Not only is the scenery expansive and robust, but I have arrived at the conclusion that Polo ponies are perhaps the most fun to ride of all equine athletes. They are alert, very forward, have excellent endurance and listen very closely to their riders.

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I am in the middle of NOWHERE…Starbucks is 28 miles away :O

writing

I have a few things worthy of reporting. Right this moment I am perched uncomfortably in an aisle seat of a US Airways plane. I paid 37$ extra dollars to change into this seat while checking in, as the seat that had been assigned to me was in the very tail of the plane. Tails of planes don’t bode well for me, uncontrollable nausea leads to rampant vomiting which leads to awkwardness between me and those hapless few seated near me. But now, in my +37$ seat in the very front of the plane, I am pissed, because the plane is half empty. I could have used my will and my legs to move into it free of charge. This is bullshit, Us Airways. I am done with you. *Shakes fist in air.

So where am I going? I am going to Houston, or rather Wharton, Texas! I had never been to Texas, but I just read that Houston is something like the first major U.S. city to have an openly gay & female mayor. A double whammy. That’s darn amazing to my thinking, and in Texas? Who could have imagined such a thing was possible? Progressive, inclusive thinking and a democratic election process based on merit, free from bigotry and sexism is like my catnip. So even though I have also been told that Houston is an utter shithole filled to the brim with pollution and strip clubs, I am very excited to visit this shining example of the modern age. First thing I discovered while peeing, that Houstoneans are quite a wordy bunch, where paper is lacking they see not an obstacle, but an opportunity. photo 3 copy

I love airports. I love them for a few reasons, but mostly because the people watching is superb. A complete spectrum of humanity is dished up in all of its glorious variety. If ever Aliens needed a good sampling of the human species they could just abduct the contents of one airport and be done with it.

I take airporting very seriously, I spend a dubious amount of time trying to figure out what to wear to the airport and doing something to my hair so that it falls just so atop my head. Most of the times allI can come up with are pajamas and unkempt pixie buns, but whatever I decide on has to fit the mood just right. It’s not so much a vanity thing, as an exercise in disguise. Alas, I am not at all happy with my outfit today. The airplane is very chilly, at least I am glad to be wearing long sleeves, as is my custom. One important rule of airport fashion is to wear things that offer full coverage to skin, as you simply don’t want to be touching anything here. Trust me.

Now for a little racism. 😛 Originally, before everyone dispersed evenly across the half empty plane, I sat in a row with two gentlemen. One very Asian and elderly, quite like Mr. Miyagi, the other very Mexican and somewhat surly.photo 2

The Mexican man is wearing a slightly ornate, pinstriped dress shirt; extra tight, dark navy jeans and a hand tooled brown belt to match his brown, alligator skin, sharp nosed shoes. He has on Prada sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton carry on, the checkered kind not the monogram. He keeps looking at me slyly but obviously, it’s not the slickest operation I’d ever been subjected to. I imagine in Mexico he is quite the stud, the ladies must get slayed by the barrel full.

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Both have some appearance of FOBishness, and I am not saying this derogatorily, it’s just an observation. To my surprise and thorough amusement, when the Asian man finally spoke to me, I discovered that his is the tongue exactly like that of my Californian compatriots, every bit of his diction and cadence smacked of a Malibu surfer dude. It made my brain giggle uncontrollably. A few minutes later the Mexican man had occasion to utter a few words as well, he needed to use the lavatory, and once again I blinked confusedly as he sounded like my college English lit professor. Perhaps I should quit racially profiling….naaah that’d be no fun. I love surprises. America, the land of so many and so varying, I love thee.

I am ready for this plane to land, I am almost entirely out of sustenance. So far I had eaten 2 bags of chips, a rather hearty sandwich, a bag of M&Ms,one of those hummus snack packs, some grapes and some pretzels. I have Bugles left and Sprees. I am starting to get weird looks from everyone who has me in their sights. I am a bored plane eater. Sorry. Jeesh. Shameful plane behavior, like gratuitous overeating is part of the airporting experience. A part I love.

Back to where I am going. I am going to Wharton to hang out & ride ponies with my friend Radikah at a Polo farm which is currently employing her. Wharton is a very small town as far as I understand, and now that I am driving my little rental car over to it, I have realized that it is 1.5 hours away from Houston and literally in the middle of nowhere! First thing I did was I Googled the nearest Starbucks. T’is 28 miles away, ladies and gents. That noise you just heard piercing the atmosphere, was my screaming. Although Raddy has extended her hospitality to me, I can’t stay with people ever, I can’t even share a hotel room due to my social issues, of which I have plenty. So I booked a motel room in Wharton 2 miles away from the Polo club. It’s one of the fancier options, as far as I could tell, from the overwhelming list of 3 in total. And walking into the lobby, I am not disappointed. Splendor, thy name is Country Hearth Inn.photo 4 copy

I have no plans except to enjoy some nature, to ride crazy Polo ponies to my heart’s content, embarrass myself trying to play Polo, partake in various tomfoolery with Raddy, on and off horse back, & of course try not to melt from excessive humidity that everyone talks about….excessively. I will be reporting every bit of my impressions on here. It’s going to be AWESOME. 😀

P.S. Right as I arrived a foal was born. It was equal part beautiful and disgusting.

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Chapter 9..or..The chapter that tripped me up

writing

“Who is it?” I asked surveying the treeline.

“Not sure, usually we get some stalking rights, a little time to check things out, haunt if you will, but this one is an unscheduled drop in.”

“Were you watching me long?”

“Since you got off that plane.”

“That’s a long time, that’s days!” I exclaimed, surprised at the idea that as I was getting off of the plane, blissfully ignorant, this pair had me in their sights.

“It’s not the longest we had, but it’s nice for us you know, technically we are working, but really it’s more of a loitering situation…in which we eat hot dogs and milkshakes, no such thing in this place.” He motioned around himself with his tiny doll like hand.

“So do you know anything at all about this person?” I really wanted to understand what and whom to expect.

“He won’t be like you, he is an “intentional” He looked at me meaningfully “It’s going to be a rocky arrival.”

“They call it suicide, Dog” chimed in Peotr.

“But it’s a man?” I wanted to keep the conversation on track, before it veered off on another of their bickering tangents.

“Yes, what’s with all the questions, give it a rest will you.” The kid waved me off like an annoying fly, but over the days I had gotten used to his lack of patience and bouts of moodyness, so it didn’t discourage me. I had more questions, I redirected them more specifically at the dog. The animal had become as common to me as a tree, I hardly noticed his uglyness anymore, and the fact that he functioned more like a grouchy uncle than a dog had ceased to rattle me.

“Dog, can you please add anything.”

“We rarely have more than one charge at a time, it has happenned exactly two times so far, but nothing in this realm happens by accident, there must be a reason they want you to meet, there is a lot of pain with this one, a lot….but lets just wait and see.” This channel of information was closed as well now. It was as if in the hours before the arrival of this mysterious person, the dog and the child had gone into a trance, they hardly stirred at all come sun down and sat motionless, staring into open space. A warm wind started to blow some time after we stopped talking, it lifted a web of leaves off the ground, but curiously rather than getting blown away, they swirled around and above us in what appeared to be a kind of halo. Heat picked up shortly after, followed by an intensifying humidity. Within a few hours the climate had changed drasically. Becoming unbearably hot and humid, it closely resembled a sauna or a steam room or Florida. Breathing in that hot, dense air, I could taste the granules of salt landing on my tongue. An opaque wall of dust and leaves formed around us, drowning out much of the light, still my companions remained calm. I tried again for an explanation.

“Is this normal?” But my words died as soon as they exited my mouth, the space around us was no longer conducive to the circulation of sound. It was quite like being under water. Stubbornly, I raised my voice and yelled out as loudly as my physiology permitted. My words floated slowly but steadily, reaching my companions with a palpable delay.

“Not really, this is unusually bad, I had not seen this sort of thing……..” Dog paused and glanced at Peotr as if not sure whether he should continue “….. since Peotr’s arrival.”

“Does this mean anything?”

“Anguish I think, usually the weather phenomenon is a reflection of the one it carries with it …..” Mumbled Peotr under his breath, and even though I couldnt hear his voice, I heard him.

Thunder cut through like a giant slapping enormous palms together right on top of our heads. In a moment everything went quiet and all the wetness in the atmosphere seemed to have been pulled together to form a giant floating sphere of liquid. It hovered above our heads menacingly. I sat paralyzed with my head thrown back, watching it complete awe. The sphere floated off slightly to the north and suddenly, like a balloon pricked with a needle, it exploded. Its contents came crashing into the earth with a resounding boom. When the dust settled, I found my surroundings had gone back to completely normal, if you don’t count the newly formed lake just off to the right. It was lovely and still, its glossy surface bared no evidence its tumultuous creation. It resembled very much the lake I woke up next to just a few days earlier.

“Wow.” I exclaimed.

“Shhhhh.” Peotr put his hand to my mouth and whispered.

“Be quiet, it’s harder with men, they punch at their fears, it’s important we tread softly”

I undetstood. It made sense that while women maybe ran or screamed or swooned upon discovering themselves in a strange wilderness with an eerie child and a talking dog, men just started swinging. So there we were, sitting about forty feet away from the lake, in open sight, waiting. We didn’t have to wait long, within minutes we heard coughing and spitting, a figure of a man limned itself on the other side of the water, he was crawling out of the lake on all fours. When he had finally made it to dry land, he tried to get up, but his legs shook, giving in at the knees. He collapsed onto his side groaning.

“Oh, good, he seems very impaired, this is the best kind, you two already have something in common Charlie” snickered Peotr, getting up off the ground. I looked at Dog questioningly, as I had come to do whenever the child was dispensing information in his typically snide, cryptic fashion.

“It’s common amongst drinkers to arrive here significantly weakened.” offered Dog

“Alcohol is the only substance which can travel here in your blood “

Peotr began making his way around the giant puddle towards the man, who was still scattered on the ground, groaning. We followed. When we walked up to him, I expected a scene, a panic, screaming, maybe running, but to my surprise none of those things happened. He sat up, holding his head in his arms with his elbows perched into his knees, and surveyed us from under his brow. He seemed indifferent. Peotr extended the water flask to him. The man took it without a word and drank greedily until there was nothing left. When the man was done with the flask he let it drop to the ground. Peotr flinched and broke the silence.

“Oh come on, seriously, what happened to common courtesy, hand the flask back.”

The man stared at him for a second with tired bloodshot eyes, as if he couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of what was said, then picked up the flask and handed it over to the child.

“Sorry.”

There was another period of silence interrupted only by the scratching noises of Peotr trying vigorously to clean the sand off of his flask. I took the moment to examine the stranger. He was a man in his mid thirties, medium height, he had that strong stocky build which often lends itself as an advantage to shorter males, compensating for lack of stature. He had an open face with a pronounced jaw line. Half of him was covered in a thick layer of wet sand, the rest of him was just wet, still there was a boyish handsomeness to him. I was embarrassed to have noticed.

Having finally cleaned off his flask, Peotr broke the silence, evidently he was still quite irritated.

“No, you are not dead, yet…no this is not hell…blah blah blah”

The man continued to stare at us indifferently, oddly the expression on his face did not change much when Dog finally decided to interject.

“Stop, vermin, go sulk somewhere if you can’t do your duties properly.” Thusly scolded, Peotr glared at us, then turned around sharply and stomped away into the bushes, with all the conviction due a pouting child.”

The dog spoke to the man much as he had spoken to me earlier. Our guest started to come to, I caught him glancing over at me questioningly, as if looking for comfirmation that indeed there was a dog talking to him. I nodded lightly, realizing, that in a way I was the only thing there, that wasn’t somewhat absurd or unreal. He took in the information remarkably well. I thought it was commendable that he stayed so composed in the wake of such jarring news, but later I realized it was more of an indication of how down he was, rather than how adaptable. I always found sadness could be akin to madness, it seemed that he was a perfect example of a man so profoundly hurting, that he was capable of accepting everything and cared about nothing. Nothing could surprise him, impress him or bother him. Having made his introductory speech, Dog turned around and following in Peotr’s footsteps, disappearing into a bush. The stranger and I were left alone for the moment.

I sat down next to him.

“I don’t know what to say, that could be helpful” I exhaled…..”I dont know much about any of this, until now I thought this was all a hallucination, it still very well might be….”

He maintained silence. I got back up, reasoning that maybe he would benefit from a bit of quiet, but as I made a step away he stopped me.

“Last thing I remember was driving, I think I am dead?”

“I don’t know, the way Dog said it we are not dead, we are in between.”

Again silence.

“Last thing I remember was drinking a lot and taking some pills.” I shrugged. He said nothing.

“You wanted to die?” It wasn’t really a question, more of assertion, he said it with some relief it seemed.

“No, I can’t say that..but I think I almost did, by accident…I just wanted to forget. You wanted to die?”

“I do.” He said it in the present tense.

“Why?”

He shook his head like it didn’t matter, with resignation. His eyes turned up to me, they were a clear blue, almost translucent, tears were brimming on the edges of his eyelids, ready to overflow their confinement. I knew the answer. I could feel it. Grief.

Our companions had reemerged from the bushes and walked back over to us. Peotr tapped at the top of his right wrist with the fingers of his left hand, as if he had a watch there.

“We have to go” He said.

Unquestioningly, the man rose from the ground, and without bothering to shake the sand off, started walking behind the boy. His head hung low.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Aries.” He didn’t ask mine, so I volunteered.

“I am Charlie.”