I am sitting under a bridge beside a man with an impossibly red beard. I am reading out loud the story of Jumping Mouse, who ventured away from his safe home and busy things to the sacred river and then the sacred mountains, where from his own virtues and sacrifices, he became Eagle.
In front of me, on the bank of the Virgin River and below the hundred year-old bridge, is a small pillow of white paper towel. Inside it is the venerable body of Willis the hampster.
I am sitting on a used blue couch with an orange tabby cat beside me, sewing straps on a forty year-old sleeping bag. The cat has knocked over the hanging houseplants on the kitchen bar for the third time today. Outside the windows, two cottonwoods sway and grow so close to the trailer that they've started to scrape the roof. It's a project I will save for another week. And in the back yard, three chestnut horses graze. One has a brand above its haunch, and it doesn't seem to give a damn about my carrots. So I feed them to the bearded billygoat that makes quick work out of all of them.
I am riding in a busted up Toyota SUV up I-15, and it's just hit 200 thousand miles. The driver is excited, and it's a good drive - though not as good as the part where the front of the car free-styled on the topic of the Virgin River Narrows.
I am at a venue in Salt Lake City watching a band I hardly care about, but the floor is so packed with people moving and jostling that I have no option but to move along with it. Pushed into the pit, I can feel innumerable people's sweat stuck to me, hanging from my hair, dripping on the floor. I slip and fall hard on my wrist.
In the oppressive heat, I walk to the bar and order a shot of Seagram's on the rocks. The bar is empty because the band is a ska band and it's an all-ages show. One person walks up next to me and orders a drink. He asks me what I'm drinking. I tell him. He's drinking vodka and Red Bull. His name is Jay C and he leaves for Afghanistan in six hours.
I am at a desk facing a window that faces an atrium, a big courtyard with a few trees and benches, surrounded by the headquarters building. It's large enough that I can see catty-corner from my window into the fee office, and I know they can see me, half asleep at the computer.
It's big enough to see above the roof and behold the mottled cream and crimson sandstone cliff of the Towers of the Virgin. When I open the sun creeps down the cliff like a sundial, until it hits the roof and everyone else is at work.
I am at a desk, listening to people call into service. I time-stamp over the radio. I say, "Copy" a lot. I am a dispatcher.
I am a fortunate person, regardless of anything else. I am lucky. Even in Utah, in 106* heat, in a beat up trailer, I am lucky.
And today I abscond to Mesa Verde for a long-needed visit with those with whom my spirit is kindred.
And today I drink my coffee, and listen to the world wake up.