Observations from the Shores of Crystal Lake

Look how often, the man in the lead, the woman and children following.  I was angered by these types of things in my teens and twenties.  I stopped shaving my legs and insisted on competing with the boys.  Even as a kid, I let my big brothers nearly brake all my fingers playing mercy because I refused to give in.  I picked a fist fight with Tony Angelino and was always ready for arm wrestling. 

In Carnot, Central African Republic, I knew a prepubescent Lebanese boy who lived in a household of macho men and spent his days as clerk, perched in a dark corner of his uncle's store.  One evening the men bet Fadi that he couldn’t beat me in an arm wrestling match.  Young Fadi jumped at the chance to prove them wrong.  He was stronger than I thought, for being so scrawny.  Still, I beat him.  The men howled with delight while Fadi flew into a rage.  For a while I continued to stop by the store to say hello.  But he never talked to me again. 

These days, I am happy to let my husband lead.  It frees me up for these practices that most interest me.  Like following the flight of a white bird across a backdrop of lake pines all the way around the shore and up into the blue until its wings are indiscernible from cellular specks that float on the surface of the eye.  There is a half moon in the morning sky and a dragon fly and a ground squirrel digging in fallen leaves.  A car door slams, a child’s voice rings.  Crows call their desires. 

A very fit old woman jogs along the shore, a flock of seagulls rises like a curtain and whips around before settling back in.  Once, I spent a day by myself, pregnant in Kino, Mexico while my husband attended a graduate school seminar.  I walked from our hotel to town along the shore and later wrote an essay whose name I can’t remember but where seagulls were prominently featured.

We watch a grown man loping down the beach like a child, waving his arms and groaning, chasing the seagulls into flight while his old ma and grandma holler from their lawn chairs for him to come back this instant.

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