El Paso.

It’s a subtle and soft mixture of two cultures, two histories, but one land. Sometimes I feel like a foreigner here.

Years ago in a different place I’d look at the houses tucked into the green whispering woods along the river and think that one day that I would be on the other side.

But now, when the sun rises here, I pluck a petal off of the flower gathering the rays, sitting by my bedside. There are days I want nothing more than for this dry land to excommunicate me. And other days, I feel like my soul has found peace here. A land as barren as it is beautiful. Parched as it is plentiful.

The sun’s greeting lights up the sky, slowly waking up the mountain ranges for miles and miles that hug the earth like lovers do.

I orient myself to the West, always the West, with the Franklins, mountains I’ve climbed and conquered, mountains that have frustrated me.

The smell of the rain is strange to me, and now it smells like home. In the next moment I shield my northern European eyes from the sun: my sun, burning my skin but giving me life. The mountains are my mountains, a geological silhouette  I claim as I approach from the distance.

I race the sunset, tapping the wheel, craning my neck for a good vantage point. I fumble with the camera, but the photo is futile. A painting that lasts for a moment, etched into memory for a lifetime but never to be recreated. A glimpse, a window, into eternity.  A heaven with sunsets and mountains and earth.

Hundreds of trips over the mountain reaffirm my soul’s belonging as I gaze into the still night and capture with bated breath the lights of the city, descending from a mile high.

After my descent, I look up when the moon hides and graciously lets the stars have their fifteen minutes of fame. I see the Milky Way sparkling gently above me, a channel of lifetimes of light blinking in the distance. I cry for the beauty. I can’t look away, but I know I must for sunrise comes again soon.

October 19, 2014

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