It starts with the subtle bit of grey intruding on the black of night. It is whisper quiet as the world holds it’s breath waiting for the morning show. Suddenly, a gusty wind springs up as the tide changes. The wind charges in like a colt, bouncing around buildings, ruffling the palm trees impatiently telling them to wake up. It pulls the laundry off the neighbor’s line, scattering bras, tee shirts and jeans around the dust that covers our world. Yards here in this little village are usually very plain. Landscaping consists of a cactus plant and a rock, so the clothes are dirty all over again. Not yet content with the damage, the wind blows a fine dust through solid block walls to cover rooms that were dusted just yesterday with a fine brown coat. The Sea of Cortez makes a gentle hissing sound as if telling the wind to be quiet. It’s too early for all this noise and energy. Inadvertently, the wind blows away the blanket of humidity that has descended on the village like a stifling blanket, and gives hope of a comfortable day ahead. Meanwhile as the sky starts to gently start to glow in anticipation of sunrise, you can see the clouds like lumps of mashed potatoes, without salt or garlic, scattered about on a platter, leftover from some celestial banquet that was held to honor the moon last night. Finally, the sun appears bringing with it its palette of colors to embellish the sky and clouds and then paints the complex combination of civilized and natural elements that define our material world. In a matter of minutes the sea, the mountains, the village and its inhabitants begin to radiate a colorful glow that foretells another day of blessings. At the same time the gods clear the table of the detritus of last night’s fiesta, and the clouds fade away, waiting until tomorrow night to return to the sky. The sound of the first car floats around the neighborhood heralding an early riser on his way to work, trying to complete his tasks before the afternoon heat wave descends to suck the energy from all the living creatures in our little desert town. So, as the morning show slips into daytime, and the world starts awakening to the day ahead, those of us who have been spectators smile, and feeling nourished begin our daily routine. But we are changed by the experience. You cannot watch this show without a feeling of awe and a belief that there is a higher power guiding our lives. The challenge for us humans is to avoid being spun into daily crises and lose the magic that sunrise brings.
As the sun rises, so do the inhabitants who can’t afford to flee the heat of August. They sit up, stretch, yawn and put their feet on the floor to start their daily chores. One of these people is Reuben. He is a bumper car in the arena of life. He careens from one adventure to another, enjoying the smooth moments in equal measure to the crashes. He enjoys every moment of the ride, with no fear of what may be next. Reuben draws pleasure from every moment, and has perfected the art of not planning ahead. Reuben is an upholsterer who has recovered just about everything in our house over the last 5 years. He’s had a small shop down by the traffic circle for years. It was right on one of the main streets, an ideal location for a retail business. Last May he showed up at our casa with his new girlfriend. Although she didn’t speak English, we managed a pleasant afternoon with her and by the time they left the Princess had hired him to recover a couch on our patio. That always requires some negotiations, and a significant down payment, because he never has enough money to buy material. We’re now halfway though August, and until last week we hadn’t seen him all summer. That’s not unusual because we know he doesn’t live on the same planet as we do. About two months ago we noticed that he had moved out of his shop, and there was no sign giving any clues as to his whereabouts. We didn’t worry about it though, because he’s reliable in a very flexible sort of way. Finally one day we spotted a sign pointing to his new shop. After driving around for a while, we found him!! His new shop is in the Gavilonnes, a modest residential area. It’s down a dirt path that requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle to climb out of the potholes and over the humps. You do have to keep moving though, or you will sink into the loose sand. We found his new shop! There he was proudly sitting on a box, smiling as always. After exchanging embraces and a warm welcome, he proudly showed us his new place. The new office is a two bay RV port. Dirt floor, no front doors and the electric meter is mounted on the side of his outhouse. In one bay is his sewing machine looking rather lonely sitting out there in the middle of that big space. The other bay had an old Dodge van. The odds of the van ever moving on its own power are somewhere between slim and none. He’s cut a hole in the side of the van and installed an air conditioner. That’s home to Reuben.
Oh, I forgot to mention that Reuben wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes. That’s a little unusual even for him. He is always smiling, and always wearing a clean tee shirt. After a little casual conversation the story began to unfold. Reuben’s wife lives in Mexicali, about 120 miles away. He used to go visit her about once a month. She must have found out about the girlfriend about the same time the girlfriend found out about the wife. He was a little vague on the details, but the result was that they both threw him out. He was laughing as he told us that between them they had all his clothes. The jeans he was wearing were his entire wardrobe. So we went back home, grabbed some old jeans and tee shirts and took them back to him. He was happy to see them, but a little puzzled that we had seen his semi-nakedness as a problem. Wouldn’t we all love to know how it happened that he had to escape without clothes? We may never find out. This is normal stuff for Reuben, and he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.
No we don’t have the couch covered yet, but with any luck we will hear some more adventures as we try to encourage him to complete the job. We have learned a lot from Reuben. He lives a good, if somewhat random life, and enjoys the ride. I’m beginning to think that may be a lot more productive than being serious.