The best example of teamwork in humanity these days can be witnessed at the baggage carousel of any major airport. Suddenly we are neighbours, lending a hand, catching wayward bags, helping heft them out of the carousel. Smiling and touching with none of the usual awkwardness.
This is why I love travel- our very basic instincts, which in this high touch, hi tech world we seem to be losing, is rediscovered. We recall, even just for moment, that we’re actually communal creatures, part of a pack.
Having successfully over prepared for this training, arriving one night in advance is proving to be the best idea I’ve had. Not only can I get familiar with the surroundings and logistics, but also spend a day being a tourist, exploring this new destination.
I keep saying I’ve never been the desert before, and its only because I haven’t been to a desert that conjures the traditional image of a desert. No Lawrence of the Arabia type locales. But I’ve been to Arizona, driven through vast deserts where you can see nothing but dunes and shrubs for eons. So this isn’t necessarily my first visit to the desert, don’t let me fool you.
The thing that always gets me is how big the sky is in this part of the country. Every direction you look you can see the sky. It’s blue and cloudless. The buildings here have a warm brown hue, no bright whites or boring pastels, but earthy hues. I’ve only yet scene the Old Town part of Albuquerque, and I’ve come to notice its quaint charms. I’m renting a bike this afternoon, hoping to explore beyond my 1-mile radius I’ve walked this morning. I hear there is a river to see- Rio Grande.
The other thing about Travel is how you naturally juxtapose where you’re from, to where you are. How you instinctively identify the pluses and minuses, and somehow argue for why you love where you live. Or prove me wrong, and tell me a story of someone who went on vacation and couldn’t quite justify why they live where they live, instead of this new place… and moved.
As humans we are quite changeable.
I’m sitting in the sun this morning, taking a minute not to think about work, because last night I had the most terrible nightmare… a nightmare that has left in me a feeling that I should be in mourning, and not enjoying the sun.
The dream featured a roaring fight with my parents, disrespect on my part, and disagreement on theirs. Then driving to my wedding… my brother and best friends in the cab ahead of me. Having left may be 8 minutes before I did. I’m sitting in the back seat of this car, and we’re driving along a ravine 200 meters deep. You can’t even see the bottom. Night is settling in, and the streetlights are twinkling on as we drive on. I’m happy, I think, but I’m on my phone, texting. We slow down as we approach the bridge that will take us across the ravine towards and looming mountain on the right. At the top of the mountain, the lights of the temple are twinkling, and that’s my destination. That is where I will be married.
But the driver slows as he approaches the bridge.
His sharp intake of breath, forces me to look up from my phone, where I’m waiting for a reply. It takes me a minute to process the scene in front of my eyes, and even before I do, I’m getting out of the car. I can hear myself repeating in a soothing voice, as I walk towards the wreckage in slow motion…
“You’re going to be ok, you’re going to be ok, you’re going to be ok….” Over and over again. I’m saying it to all of them. The driver says, “Someone went through the windshield” disagreeing with me. It makes me want to punch him.
Bathiya is laying on the ground in front of the car, Sudu kneeling over him, saying “loku aiye.. loku aiye.. loku aiye….”over and over again; His chant matches mine.
Eshan, half of his body in the cab, top half of his body hanging out of the back seat, and Dinith’s silhouette also slumped over him in the back. Eshan’s dangling arms drip blood making a little pool at his fingertips.
And my malli… my precious malli, my baby brother… my Malli slumped over in the drivers seat. Not moving.
Their white shirts and sarongs slowly turning red.
Just remembering the image makes my heart beat faster, and tears spring to my eyes. I woke up in a panic last night, and called Malli… left him a voicemail. Then I messaged Eshan and Sudu… just to let me know they are ok.
I know they are fine, but for a few minutes as I woke up, I was forced to contemplate a universe without these people. My Malli…. the one person I’ve loved my whole life. Since the minute he was born I loved him. I would not survive the pain of losing him; just as my eyes can’t stop the tears that run down my face just thinking about it.
Unfortunately, the echoes of this dream are dampening my enjoyment of Albuquerque.
I laugh sardonically to myself, a dream about my wedding, what is meant to be a happy day… … turned into disaster. I can’t even dream of such a future. Alright universe, I know now is not the time for me, but must you prove it so cruelly?
I’m within 2 minutes walk from the Bike rental shop. I’m hoping the cool air, and hot sun will take my mind off the dream, and help it disappear into the place all dreams breeze off to…
Fill my mind with some nature, read my book and enjoy my Sunday. Tonight I will be too busy to remember, and the rest of the week will follow with stress, and responsibility and work. But right now, I will write this nightmare into a post, and send it off into the unknown (aka the internet) and hope it finds a place to rest, outside of my heart and head.
Albuquerque. Show me… you.