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Sitting in Heaven & Going Home (Part 7)

June 6, 2016

As we headed out, Mr. Houston lamented that we would not be able to buy beer since neither of us didn’t had any i.d. Ever the persistent charmer, he devised a plan. We would both go into a grocery store and try it separately using the self check out. Our first two attempts failed miserably. As we drove from place to place I was getting a little annoyed. What was so important about buying beer now?

At the last store, I told him I’d wait in the car. He was the one with the mojo anyway. Ten minutes later he came out of the store carrying two grocery bags, one with a six pack of beer.

“Oh my God, you did it!” I laughed. He explained that he had figured it out. “You have to look like a local,” he said. He told me how he put fruit and yogurt before the six pack and some solo cups and paper towels after it. Worked like a charm.

As we re-entered the beautiful landscape, it was late afternoon. Seeing a dirt road off to the left, Mr. Houston suggested we take it. “Sure,” I said.

He drove our rented white sedan along the twisting road higher and higher. The rough road had no shoulder and was flanked on either side by wild vegetation. We passed a pueblo-looking house here and there as we scaled up. I wondered what it would be like to live in such an isolated landscape. When he found a rare spot to park the car, away from any houses he pulled over. We got the chairs and the beer out and found an ideal viewing position. We were obviously on private property, evidenced by posts and flimsy fencing.

Mr. Houston kicked his shoes off and handed me a cold beer. “Ah, that’s better,” he said. “Maybe I should take my clothes off.”

“Go ahead,” I dared him. He proceeded to strip down to boxer shorts and sat back down, satisfyingly relaxed.

I looked at him and laughed. He was an incredible person. I could not think of a single person in the world, no one that I had ever met who would do what we were doing right then. Sitting in two pink folding chairs, drinking beers looking out into the southwest landscape, watching the clouds and sun play in the mountains’ hills and valleys and wondering what was happening in the cropping of houses far away.

It was heaven. We were the epitome of relaxation. No schedule. No pressure. No needs. Just two friends and nature. I loved every minute of it. I knew I was experiencing a moment I would never forget.

We repeated it further down the road, this time on the edge of the Rio Grande. The sun danced on the water making diamonds and glowing behind the vegetation. This time, we conducted an autopsy on the crying incident of the night before. Not drunk and throughly relaxed, we were able to inspect our feelings. He was convinced that my reaction was based on something I had been through. “Yeah, I had a bad experience,” I told him. “There was pressure and coercion but it wasn’t what you think. I wasn’t raped. It’s not about me. It’s about imagining what could happen to my daughter, my son, anybody’s daughter or son. It’s the sexual abuse that is going on every day all over the world. To hear you dismiss or normalize that kind of behavior is hard for me to handle.”

“I’ve dealt with it a long time ago,” he said. “I didn’t know you were that sensitive about this issue.”

Shouldn’t everybody be? I thought.

“I know I shouldn’t have reacted that way to your story,” I admitted. “You have a way of finding my weak spots and pushing me.”

“Yeah, I admit it,” he said. “When I see vulnerability I want to know why. I want to get to the cause.”

“I’m not always strong enough to handle that.” I confessed.

We talked a little longer, with no anger, no blame. Only compassion, friendship and a desire to understand. The healthiness of it was ridiculous. And all in the setting of sparkling water and the wall of the Rio Grande.

I stood up and put my foot in the cold water. He followed, stepping further in. He held his hands up and looked at the sky. He started splashing the water. I thought about what he said about his family not understanding why he wanted to go to Sante Fe. I grabbed my camera and snapped away, laughing at him.

When we got back on the road it was early evening, around the time the bars in old town would start opening. We had mentally retraced our steps trying to determine where we might have left my purse and his license. I remembered dropping my purse down in frustration at the hotel bar. The other option was the Crowbar where we had been before. I had been trying to call the Crowbar all afternoon but the coverage was sketchy. We decided to drive straight there.

Mr. Houston has a great sense of direction, a nice balance to his horrible driving. He found the hotel bar and I ran in. No luck. I left my number and a sketch of the little purse. He found the Crowbar and I jumped out of the car while he looked for a parking spot. I walked into the busy bar and moved to the side, getting the bartender’s attention. It was the same guy from the night before.

“Hi, I was here last night with my friend and I think I left a small, brown leather purse…..” Before I could get the words out he was opening a drawer and pulling out the little brown object. “Oh my God!” I said with relief. “I could kiss you!”

“And what about my friend’s license?”

He opened the register and looked under the cash drawer. “What’s his name?”

“Mr. Houston.”

He pulled out the card and I recognized his goofy face. “Thank God!”

I thanked him and put the two items deep in my big purse. I called Mr. Houston. “I got them both! I have them both in my possession!” I was so relieved.

He walked around the corner and I handed him his license.

Relieved, we set out for a drink, Mr. Houston again searching for a rooftop view. Looking up as we meandered there were many rooftop restaurants. We tried a few but it was Memorial weekend and packed. We left our name at one place and walked across the street, ready to settle for a lesser view. Just as water was delivered to our table we got a call that a table was available. We ran back across the street, giving a quick apology to the waiter. We hopped up the stairs, arriving out of breath.

“You didn’t have to run,” the hostess said laughing at us.

“It’s the altitude,” I said and we laughed.

We had Bloody Marys and chips and salsa and enjoyed the sunset. We went back to Silver Coyote to say goodbye. Mr. Houston asked if the cow’s head was still available for ten dollars. Not surprisingly, he said no.

Exhausted, we went back to the hotel, saying goodbye to Sante Fe.

The drive back was long but fairly easy. I left the music off, knowing he didn’t like my taste and we talked. He told me stories. He asked me about my stories. I told him the story of my first boyfriend and my daughter’s birth. We talked about relationships and family. I got to know him much better and I think I had a better understanding of where he’s been, why he needs to be single now and the goals he is working towards. It confirmed for me that I didn’t want to get into a relationship with him. He was a weird guy, but he was my kind of weird and maybe we could manage to be friends and even better, traveling buddies.

“You think we could do this again?” he asked.

“Yeah, I think so.” I said.

“Where to next?”

“Cuba.” I said.

“Let’s do it.” he said.

We got back close to midnight. I took a shower while he made me some amazing Indian chicken and naan. I got into his bed and set an alarm for 3am. I almost overslept, waking up suddenly around 3:15, not understanding why my alarm had not sounded. I heard thunder and thought, I gotta get out of here before I’m stuck in a flood.

I threw my shoes on and collected my things. I went back into the bedroom and kissed Mr. Houston on the forehead. “I gotta go, Panda Boo.”

He woke up and walked me out to my car. I hugged him and gave him a kiss.

“It was an amazing trip,” he said.

“Yes it was.”


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One Comment
  1. Loved this story. Glad you went!

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