Friday, January 15, 2010

Never Thought You Knew, part three of four

“Today sucked,” fumes Meaghan, with none listening but her dog, who she strokes behind the ears. “Just when I started to think 2010 was going to be better, it seems to be starting almost as bad as 2009 ended.” She puts on some Cake, some Megadeth, a song called "Vultures," from Them Crooked Vultures, and speeds up.

A phone call to Tanyjah keeps Meaghan’s spirits up on the long road on from Texas. She admires the way Tanyjah seems so focused, as though there is something that’s held her interest all her life. Tanyjah happens to be baking, as she does every, and only on, holidays.

Meaghan asks her if she plans on teaching or curating.

“If I don’t take Zahi Hawass' job. Curating would be cool, too. I'm just not into teaching.”

“Zahi Hawass is the most familiar name in the field, even to laypeople. Which, I assume, you figured.”

“The guy before him was my friend’s grandfather.

“Wow, that's a good connection to that world,” Meaghan says. She yearns for another lucky break.

“Kind if, he didn’t have that close of a relationship with him but he’s been keeping me connected and getting my questions answered and such not.”

“Is that friend a person who drew you into this interest?” She thinks: “a person to connect me...” with slight melancholy.

“No. I've always been interested in Egyptology. It wasn’t from influence of other people.”

“Simply serendipitous,” she says, relishing the alliteration and thinking: “I’ve always tried to go my own way, too; no one tells me what to do!”
Tenyjah replies, “any project that i ever did where the material wasnt specified, it was always on something Egypt.”

“That's a lot of focus.” Meaghan thinks of her own interests, her various careers, in cooking, in medicine, in shop work: “if only I could tighten my attention into something that would pay.

“My sister’s here; I gotta talk to her about what we’re going to plan. Here, talk to Santos a minute.”

Santos mostly had the gym on his mind, try as he might to ask after other things.

Since Meaghan had been devoted to working again until recently, she’d had many conversations with him about his competitive lifting and training. She congratulates him, as he’s placed first in class the weekend before in a contest benefitting the local police, raising funds for flak jackets.

“What did you get on your maxes?” Meaghan asks.

“Still kind of catching my breath! For my bench, got 400.”

“Just shy of your best, 410.” She liked letting him know she remembered.

“Squatted 525. Yep.”

“Turn, you bitch! Heck, got distracted, Santos; do go on.”

“Deadlifted 610, and military press, lifted 235.”

“Do you do some of the other free weight stuff or just focus on your lifts?”

“I hit all of the body, different groups--- different days, of course. You know what I mean when I say my muscles are ‘pumped’ after a work out?”

“I’ve experienced it. But then, they look cool for the pictures! Are you asking rhetorically or did you want to say something?”
At least she could be glad for Santos; her gall bladder had troubled her along with other ominous pains while recently running.

“True!” he says, smile evident. “And like when your veins pop out after you work out?” he continues. “That is pumped. It's your body sending more blood to bring oxygen to break down the lactic acid buildup.”

She felt cheated; running, too, was once a source of pride for her, maybe even the pivotal thing in her life that had made her belong, when she made track. In those days, she could do anything she’d never done before.

“At least,” she replies, “your enthusiasm is contagious.”

Soon Meaghan finds herself pulling into Taos, about three miles from her friends’ Tenyjah and Santos’ shared house on its northern outskirts. She sits behind a taxicab, driven by an Indian in a lavender turban. Despite herself, she thinks of Collin, and their time in New Zealand, and their visit to Thailand. She thinks of the taxicab ride they shared, stuck in traffic while her gall bladder gave her terrible fits. She’d written him since he broke things off; it seemed so sudden.

Why did he not let her finish? What did he have to do the next morning that could be more important than the details of their relationship? Cowardly of him, not to respond! Wasn’t he the one who’d moved things so fast? Moved away so fast?

“Why not even give me a chance?”

Sarah calls Meaghan to see how her trip is going; with small reassurances, she then calls Molly, to let her know she recognizes this part of town, her bus will pull in shortly after midnight as planned.

The fact that this plan’s specifics only took shape the day before, nor that she is technically arriving a half an hour after Christmas, does not phase her. A day on the road with anticipation was certainly better than staying at home with Meaghan gone, who’d decided the week before to travel with Roderick and Ned, leaving the dogs’ upkeep to the last minute. Brian and Kayac had called from Italy while she was still on the road; she shares their happiness at their first Christmas in Napoli.

Her determination to remain cheerful had led to a bathroom conversation with a bus employee, who had tipped her off that the bus to San Antonio departed shortly; perhaps from there, she would find a transfer and arrive in California for Christmas.

Riding with fellow travelers, disregarding the insane one who spewed venom over being bumped by a child on a crowded holiday bus, sure beat missing her older sister Anne, whose house she’d been cleaning up for weeks after her sudden death. Staying busy had taken Anne’s absence from her mind, and the trip to see Molly had given her a holiday plan, even one delayed by the weather.

An Iraq war veteran, riding with her since the Dallas, had commented on her positivity, how she bore the inconvenience like a true soldier. His words remain with her as the bus winds its way down Front Street and rumbles slowly into the Broadway terminal. Hardly the first time, after all, she’d had to cope with what she could get, out of what she wanted, she mused as she pulled the bag with one broken wheel away from the bus.

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