"Want some of this?!" I yell to my brother over the shaky din of the front-end loader as he hauls his Dickey-clad lower half toward a location on the family farm that will make him some money. I shake a bright orange can of mosquito repellent at him.
He looks at me like I'm some sort of communist.
"NO!" he shouts at me, shaking his head. It's like I've suggested that he take out twenty percent of his paycheck to solve the mystery of why men leave the toilet seat up and why women always think they can change a man.
"They're eating me up!" I holler as a means of explanation for the intricate aerosol dance I'm performing as I glance at my bare legs. I scowl at the throbbing patches of skin where enterprising mosquitoes have already staked their claim. I squint my eyes, fan myself, and cover my limbs in sticky chemicals that supposedly will keep blood-sucking parasites at bay. The dogs, previously nosing pressingly into my creases, back off.
"You've been in the city too long," my brother tells me. I don't know what to say; I hardly consider Memphis a city in the traditional meaning of the word, and instead think of it as one big rural neighborhood with pizza delivery. I shrug off his comments and douse myself in chemical. The following day, my mother and I will spot a clandestine colony of honeybees constructing honeycombs out of sight behind plywood covering what used to be the door to the only bank in town and I will creep ever closer for a glimpse behind their buzzing curtain, but for now I will smack at a buzzing pest hovering near my thigh, wondering what's in the repellent that keeps the blood-suckers at bay. The sky contracts. The clouds pulse silently and lower to cover the horizon in a full-court press. I smile, content.
This is my home, even if I'm the only one in the entire family that the mosquitoes still bother.
The mosquitoes, I remind my brother, have always eaten me alive.
Today the clouds hung low and common like weightless glaciers, suspended in the sky above and beyond me. I kept my gaze trained to them all day, mouth slightly agape like some kind of developmentally disabled infant with her hands pointed toward a mobile featuring the skies. I say that because a big blue sky like that makes me feel dumb and happy. It didn't seem real, the scale of it all. I wondered what it must be like to look into the near horizon and see an honest-to-god mountain or two. Every day. How that might affect perception for someone used to a flat plane. I think I might feel constantly watched if anything other than sky ever crept up around me. Or do the mountains push an illusion of privacy? I have lived in the flat lands of West Tennessee all my life and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to answer that question.
We watched a movie this weekend, a cautionary tale: Don't let the machines evolve faster than we do. Wall•E is a Pixar flick with a calming political influence mapped in its bones. You watch it and you can't help but want to say shucks, we fucked it all up, and then feed and clothe the lowly artists who have to cope with the mundane storytelling and shading of each animated post-apocalyptic form. I watched with great interest all the sci-fi homages. Johnny-Five and Hal, yes. And likely more that I did not tap into or have forgotten or am too lazy to mention.
We buried two small, quaint bundles of treasure today. Stickers and typing-paper explanations. The geocaching community in Saltillo is no doubt fledgling at best, but could be bolstered by the unbridled enthusiasm of two pre-teens, a millenial, and a baby boomer. Funny to think that I'd never given geocaching a single thought until this past week when a soon-to-be-honeymooning friend mentioned it and suddenly the world skidded into silly relief in relation to the idea that people were hiding tiny treasures all over town. I don't know; maybe it's easy to ignore that fact and remain happy but as far as I know, you ought to seek shelter under the nearest ban on allcaps and just enjoy the summer from then on out.
Would it surprise anyone to know that I was totally drunk as this post was going up?
Update, from the future!!!: I sobered up and edited this post ... extensively. Didn't edit out the stupid, though. That's going to stay for posterity. Honestly, sometimes I am amazed at the random shit that I will say or write once I've got a couple of drinks in me. I get mouthy when I drink. And lately I've been reading a lot of fiction, which tends to make me wordy when I write. Drinking while writing, well, I get mouthy and wordy and messy and then have to answer for it to my sober self the next day.