We’d been back up to Santa Fe on the train, my first American train journey, to see Mary’s daughter Elaine.
I have known Mary’s kids since they were kids. Now they are not. It felt good too see them both, Sean we’d catch up with later in Albuquerque. Just to hear how and what she was doing. I have rolled in and out of their lives over the years. I was reminded that I like the me that they know and dare I say it, accepted and it sits lightly and it sits well, and I in return have seen them grow and now begin to flower. Mary has every reason to be proud. Elaine always enigmatic and observant and has blossomed into a beauty and is doing pretty well with her company, interactive art tours in Santa Fe and the southwestern galleries. It suits her so well.
Elaine is gentle and hard working, well studied and knows her stuff and not just NM art. You just know that Elaine is going to do well. Elaine has sincerity.
Next morning back in Albuquerque. There was a knock on the door, I heard it but wasn’t sure where it was coming from, then a voice calling my name gently and repetitively. Oh right I’m at Mary’s I’d asked her to call me before she left for work.
Absolute Beginners – David Bowie, loud and clear in my head, it would as usual prove to be apt for the day, Re-remembering dusting off old truths and possibilities for the future and more importantly for right now
“Morning Mary come in” I called
I was just about back in the world, we were going up to Beasty Badlands tomorrow and she’d realized that Santa Fe wasn’t on our route or it could be but was out of our way. I was supposed to pick up my mobile phone from friends there, what should we do? There were as always with Mary so many options
She laid it right on the line. It was quite a jolt. Mary looked bright, stood there both hands on her hips, I think dressed in white and cream. Needing an answer. I was still in winter hibernation or somewhere close, what should I do? What should I say. erm. Then it came to me!
I said as brightly as I could. “I’ll have a look when I get up and we’ll figure it out then. yeah!!
“Ok’ she said, But knowing Mary she’d already have a plan. Off she went, but then came back, she’d forgotten that my car was parked in the driveway. I got up moved it and then if I recall she’d forgotten something else. I left her too it, it was best, it’d only get complicated.
I was up at Starbucks on central an hour later simply because I knew they would have wifi and the pictures would load up quickly, loading the pictures has been a bit of a thorn at times. I had been there a good 3 hours or so, really focused, I’d finished what I’d been doing I was just leaving when in walked a familiar face. Do you remember me telling you about the Hispanic clothes sales man in Wendy’s parking lot a few days ago?
Well there he was, I had at the time thought I was perhaps imagining or exaggerating about his face tattoos, but no I hadn’t been. The letter H on the neck I think a J on his cheek and teardrops down under his left eye there were others but I didn’t like to stare too long.
He dimly knew my face, we’d looked eye to eye as I passed him going out the door, such a tortured beautiful face. I thought ‘I’ve seen you twice now accidently but there are no such things right?’ I had $3 in notes and a bag of loose change. I put the notes in the bag and went back in. He was sat at the table I had been at drawing patterns in black marker pen on a large piece of card. I just leaned over to him and said
“This is for you” He looked really puzzled, it wasn’t much, but it was something and I just wanted to acknowledge him somehow and for some reason.
I’d then went to buy 3 pairs of Wrangler Jeans. I’d been planning it for a long long time. They don’t sell pre-washed indigo blue, narrow fit, 31 waist 36 length in the UK, believe me I have tried. It may seem extravagant but $30 a pair and they will last me years. I was in and out in about 10 minutes, militarily but joyfully, all sorted
My mobile roaming said 6 degrees in London. I did thought about it as I stepped out of the mall. Albuquerque was glittering and beautiful looking. I had a choice of either volcanoes or scrap yards. I am looking for an early 1970’s Chrysler letter E. I have told you, I’m an anorak underneath. It was an excuse for an adventure and some gritty NM culture, and in if I’d gone to the petroglyphs who knows when I’d emerge, so scrap yards it was.
We rolled onto the I-40 west then onto the I-25 south loving the cut and thrust of the freeway, weaving and changing lanes. There is a great pulsing pink concrete knot where the two freeways intertwine merging, but not quite touching overpassing overhead and under passing beneath, everyone switching and weaving. I was just enjoying the feeling of air and space and sun and shine and peace. Hummingbird sure has the pace.
There is a definite peace within a movement, freeway tai chi, when you make those moves out there. All awareness, close up, thrust forwards, drop back, side move, left thrust, glide, side, left easy. Mirrors flat, fish eye glance back, check, over right shoulder, quick, all clear. Fantastic, arm out window pointing down, this lane mate, coming through, strong move, quick to the left thank you, cheers geezer. On days like today it is a beautiful thing, in a car, a boat that has the power, not to race, it is not the race, it is the interweaving movements, it can be such a smooth and beautiful dance.
Down in the South Valley along Broadway boulevard miles of sprawling junk yards, though these were not yards, they were acres row upon row. It was a really hot day now and what hit me as I walked through the aisles kicking up the dust them was that virtually all the cars I was looking at seemed to have been smashed. There didn’t seem like a lot of wear and tear like the poor cars had just got tired and just turned belly up, it seemed like carnage on a mighty scale
I tried in ACE, J&E, 5 J’s, U Pull N Pay, who actually had the nerve to charge $2 entry, a Wreckers theme park. Also tried a few without names. A Mexican yard two guys sat half asleep under a porch their pick up doors open, bloody awful umpah music booming out, yeeeeeehaaa!! Paranoid red necks at another who wouldn’t open the fence gate, would only call ignorantly from 30 or 40 feet away. “Wha d’you want” There were also super slick busy Anglo yards row upon row of wrecks, Fords Chrysler, Chevy etc all with their own area, easy to find, others things in other yards just slung together, find it yourself, good luck. I looked but nobody seemed to have that 70’s Chrysler E.
I’d stepped into oily receptions first to enquire to get bearings, tips advice anything a lead. But after my first attempt to locate the E using my ‘Oh hello, I’m from England’ type of voice. I decided to opt for the “urgh Chrysler; 1970’s maybe 72 to 74 need letter E urgh. It seemed to get more respect. I am not kidding. Everybody was doing it, even the grandmas were giving out snake eyes and grunts.
It was a language, it was mostly grunts, mostly helpful but only said once and if you didn’t get it, you were obviously a fool. Everybody got tough down there and if you found the part you were looking for you treated it really mean too, slung it into one of the wheel barrows, with a Motherf***in cuss, but actually a secret kiss and a ‘I’ll make it up to you later’ pat. Any emotion meant you were going to pay more at reception. So it was just a piece of shit right? I joined in. I was a mean dirt kicking muscle man for just about an hour.
There were people picking and jabbing at things all over the place like vultures plucking and pecking and ripping, stocky red anglos, big belied Hispanics, chubby black guys, every one tooled up. There were even old ladies, black grandmas with wrenches and Hispanic mamas on phones being guided in. It was a sun stroked dusty place, the freeway rumbled just above about half a mile away it seemed like a slight but constant draft of ash fluttered down on us there in the dirt you could feel it on your teeth, a very slight grinding or enamel. I walked the rows with my snake eye for quite some time, pecked a little but I didn’t find the E.
I had a date with Zelda & Alan that afternoon. Time was getting on but I was hungry. Outside the U pull U pay yard I noticed a little food kitchen truck all battered silver probably parked there for years. I was really hungry, no breakfast only coffee. Time is precious, I didn’t want to be late but I needed to eat.
I’d not taken too much notice on the way in but the subconscious obviously had, as I stepped out it was like it suddenly became surrounded by light
“There she blows” I said.
I walked up to the window, looking up through the narrow serving hatch, you know just what I mean, you are looking up into the kitchen and if they don’t bend down your talking to a torso, luckily the guy bend down
I’d checked the smudged menu board to the left and decided to revert back to English and said
“Hello can you do me a burrito with no meat, maybe potatoes, egg and some cheese”
Now I am not kidding you, the Hispanic guy and his rounded but lovely lady helper all dressed in oily grey white aprons actually just stopped dead. It must have been 5 seconds, her with spatula him with chopping knife in hands, just looking at me. Count up to five slowly and imagine someone looking down, staring at you, openly, with mouths open, it was a little unnerving, I looked back at them with my most agreeable smile,
Eventually I said “Is that possible?” I’m not sure whether it was my accent or whether it was the “No Meat” request but the world definitely slowed down there for a few seconds, I heard it turning, then again it could have been the crusher just behind the fence.
The girl snapped out of it first regained her composure and said in a genuinely friendly voice
“Sure we can do that, would you like me to do onions and chilly with that”
I said yes to all of course. It was $5 and I tell you what, it was the best Burrito I have had here so far, just sat there on a dusty bench outside a scrap yard in the blazing sun. Absolutely delicious.
I portly Hispanic guy walked up to the counter, he looked up, the cook looked down through the narrow window.
“What can we get you sir” Said the cook. ‘Sir’ has always sounded odd to me in these contexts out here. Sir was covered in dirt and dust and oil.
Sir was also a heavy and hefty Hispanic guy with chunky thighs but with perfectly acceptable manners, so nothing wrong with that I supposed, ‘manners maketh the man’
He asked politely looking upwards with a little side-glance at the smudged menu board
“What do you recommend sir?“
Cook came back as quick as lightning
“I recommend anything we have, burrito, tortilla anything. Look here” he motioned, I could only see his belly but saw the movement “This is what your gonna eat I’m just chopping it up”
“Ok” said the sir, “I’ll take one of those burritos” Just then his phone went off. He took the call, there was a lot of backwards and forwards chat, then he said clearly
“He said 3.30 or 4, is it 3.30 or 4?”
He obviously got the same answer and so asked again
“Yeah, he said 3.30 or 4, is it 3.30 or 4?
There was a pause, he got his answer
“Ok see you at 4, right” he said.
It took me back to ES, Time Out, Sport, Metro London Lite, precarious telephone instructions when time is precious.
I spent the afternoon with Zelda and Alan, bright people, I’d be leaving in a day so it was the last chance to see them for a while.
As we chatted Alan had said he thought they’d been lucky, Id thought it wasn’t luck it was example passed down, it was what I call the family furniture, their inheritance. Alan is a very thoughtful sensitive man and though quite a quiet private man when he talked about his children, he ‘liked’ them. When ever his children or the family were mentioned it was as if lights went on around him, he respects them, wife siblings parents and children. An elders focus on the next generation, love projected forwards, as it should be. I don’t know whether they know they are knowing but they know.
On the way back to the house Alan had pointed out a park where they’d had a plaque placed for Gerry. It was on a great tree in the park where he’d always taken the dogs for a walk. Apparently reads “Gerry Danziger” Arriving and leaving dates and then a quote from him
“Never accept a gift that eats”
It said so much about him and them, their wit and brightness. I was crying laughing and he’d be enjoying that for sure. In fact I’m a sure he was, brilliant man, brilliant them.
Back at Déjà vu Refinery I’d had one last thing to sort from there, Mary and I arrived there late in the afternoon. We’d found Tony was outside in the sunshine. Inside the place smelled of white sage, love that wonderful heavy smell. I am missing it on my hands. Prophet came running up to greet us, Jason was in full flow at the back with a dealer
I heard him “Damn right yeah it changes colour; the more you wear it and reflects how you feel. Oh yeah; Yeah”
We overlapped with the dealer as he was leaving Jason said a genuine wholehearted goodbye to him. Thanked him for bringing beautiful things into his shop and chipped in mischievously at the end
“Perhaps next time you could ease up on the prices just a little”
These things just make me smile, though perhaps I should take a feather out of his cap or a page from his book, but then again the smiling brings these things into my life. That is where my ‘focus’ is.
When he’d gone he said “That was tough, we’ve been haggling for the last half an hour, but I came off best. Look at this beauty” Jason was talking like he’d just been to the gym, ecstatic about a deal he’d just done, glowinhg. It was an silver oval disc, dotted with turquoise teardrop stones that literally covered the finger on either side of the one it was on, really dramatic striking and beautiful, but a little too much for my sensibilities.
It all felt quite familiar by now and regardless of the deal going down we have quite a fondness for the pair of them.
Jason was on cracking form and began putting bracelets on Mary’s arm and rings on the counter. Promising a deal on anything from the left hand counter but she only wanted to get a deal on the sunglasses so we were again, of course, drawn in. I’d mentioned I think that I liked how the alter was displayed Jason was putting bracelets back on the piece of wood when he noticed there were wood chips flaking off. Tony instantly there with vacuum in hand hovering up the mess while Jason placed the silver and Jewels just so, if I say hilarious, I mean not the slightest offence to them, quite the opposite. I loved it and it just makes me smileI am not sure what it is, maybe the way they both handles their stuff. Tony asking is there anything you’d like to see. The way things were placed on a wrist or the counter, when I think about it, it was just no airs and graces, just great to see, sincerity in their love for it all.
Everything he did, he was conscious of or appeared to be. He said it took a little time and was hard work but kept at it. Catching himself. He was he said “Vigilant” It was a wonderful reminder for me of things i had learned a long time ago, but a door torn delightfully open once again, and he is right. There is magic in these things
I have thought about it since and curiosity and practice alone will not do the trick. The thing that tips the scales, so to speak, the real secret ingredient; is passion and sincerity to your thoughts (my words not his) and Jason has those in abundance and it is this combination that had transformed his world. The joy in what he did, Tony’s sincerity too, genuinely magical.
We had to go and they had to shut up shop. Everyone left happy it had been good to spend time with them
We popped into see Mary’s son Sean who I’ve known since he was a little boy he has matured into a really good guy, square jawed handsome, finding his voice as a writer and a singer. Mary had coo’d and awed and he’d blushed before he ran off to a baseball game at a friend’s house and important game and the same feeling from him. I liked the person he knows. Warm and familiar, water under the bridge so to speak, even if mine are flash floods, they are gentle and encouraging, I hope. It’s all I have to give, I am a reminder too, a yard stick, a measurement unconditional, Sean & Elaine are great.
Mary had been saying she had to go home she was tired; we had to be up early tomorrow, I was having none of it. I won of course and we ended up at the ‘Two Fools’ bar on central. As we went looking around the bar for a seat and there were plenty the doorman had seriously asked us
“How many in your party”
I’d said “He’s right we are a party”
Mary had quipped later as we travelled home, much to my delight
“What’s up his ass?”
Mary had gone to bed, I’d sat up writing she’d put the mellow channel on the computer for Sam the Cat. I really enjoyed it too. Zero 7-Destiny came on, I love that song and it made sense.
Be clear with your focus be vigilant with your sincerity