Thursday, June 6, 2013

Soob Story

Sand blows across the road. It stings when it strikes exposed skin. I am riding my bike along New Mexico State Highway 53 to JRL Enterprises, an auto repair shop. My dead Subaru wagon is there, and I need to discuss the new engine I will need to get the car running and to get me home. This has to be a face-to-face meeting because I have no phone service here. I am in a big, empty blank on  their coverage map. No phone, no internet. Just the wind and words. The wind is gusting to 40 mph and it howls at me, straight on. Unless you have felt it, there is no way to know what riding into a wind such as this feels like.

That is what is in June up here. The wind comes out of the west and really begins to blow mid morning. It picks up force through the day, peaking in the afternoon, like about now. 

Gravel trucks scream past with full loads. They carry tons of the white, lime-impregnated gravel to the power plants. The gravel serves to scrub the emissions of the coal fired plants on the Navajo Reservation. The power helps the uranium and other extractive operations in the Four Corners area. 

They pull over to give me room if they can. When they can’t, because of oncoming traffic, I am sucked into their draft before being dropped once again into the furious wind.I have to work to keep the bike from being thrown into the ditch.

I have twelve miles to go. It’s a slow, long haul, but I know I will get there. 

The weather is not the only thing that is harsh up here. Cibola County is one of the poorest counties in New Mexico. It's hard to find work, to make a living. But that adversity makes for tough, resourceful, and friendly people. We have to depend on each other up here.

People don't suffer complaining or selfish fools much. There is too much to get done. 

I have to figure out how to get my car fixed. It is up to me, "Aint nobody goin to help you carry your load," as an old spiritual says. That feels true, but only in part. I have help, and I depend on others. What I have to remember is to do my part, right now.

So I lean into the wind and wonder how it is all going to work, where this particular crisis is going to end up, how I can best play my role as giver and receiver. The wind, in other words, is my teacher. It says drop your expectation that life be easy. Get over the fact that you have to meet, endure, and enjoy, the slings and arrows of your outrageous misfortune. You are the bug today rather than the windshield. Lean into the work. It is your curriculum for now. Your misery has no company. 

The remoteness and openness of this part of the world make cars a survival requirement. It is fifty miles to hardware, food, and car parts. 

I don't mind the remoteness though. I like it that way. I can't live for long in a city. The air here is clean, the sun clear and hot, the wind incessant. But the car thing... that's a burr under my bike shorts.

I know that soon I will be mobile again, back in the company of engine operators, but today I am free to brush against the elements, to breathe directly the scent of pinon and diesel fumes. The contact is direct, honest, and unforgiving.