Monday, October 23, 2017

Saturday Evening, On and Around Base

Saturday, 8pm

A. and C. are baking. Everyone else is off...doing something. (Bar? Karaoke?)

A. and C. are not baking for us--the All Hands volunteers and staff--but better. It's Saturday night so tomorrow is Sunday, and what they're baking is thank-you treats for the community at the church. A thank-you for putting us up--the All Hands volunteers and staff--in the church's dorm / gymnasium / I-still-do-not-know-what-that-room-normally-is.

Meaning this room--the annex, with the kitchen and tables, in which I have sat writing all of these things--is quiet and empty except for the bustling, cheerful patter of A. and C. baking.

It's wonderful.

The air conditioner hums, loud. White noise. (Actually: brown, I think. Really!)

C. has just asked A: "So what sorts of things do you like to bake?"
A. is responding with a laughing, self-effacing answer. She compliments C.'s superior technical skills.
A. and C. are terrific.

I'm tempted to pipe up, because they are terrific. I want to join in. I'm glad when I don't.

Today, earlier: we finished more "mucking and gutting" at the same public housing. We finished 'late', which actually means pretty much on-time, because Team Rubicon runs on a different schedule from All Hands. So I went for a run straight from the showers instead of showering and heading back to base before a run, because-- logistics, skip skip.

The run was hot, but it felt fantastic. It felt good to move and--this is weird--sweat, freely and out in the open. It's 'weird' cuz I'd been sweating profusely all day. But like: up a ladder! chipping at drywall! with a p100 on! That's an example from the end of the day, and of course part of a complete whole that was, as each day here has been, a gift.

Baking, right now: C. has just told A. that she has "such a love-hate relationship with some of my baking!"
They are having a detailed back-and-forth, with a rich and complex vocabulary, about their own baking foibles. Their baking hangups.
The gist is: the practice is pleasurable, but it incites their obsessive tendencies.
They're laughing about this, and about how they're both introverts, so that's why they gravitated to doing this baking fun-thing together. ("Let's hang out! Up to a point!")

They met today -- yesterday, maybe.

They are improvising a little. Not all of the ingredients they requested wound up coming back to base, with the last shopping trip. But most did. A. and C. are in motion.

Run! Back to earlier! So I'm on my hot, slow, great run. I'm not pushing myself hard on runs, this week. I'm running every day (so far. touch wood.), which I don't usually do. And though the work--mucking, gutting, debris--isn't a workout per se, it does tire you out. It could do worse than tire you out, if you let yourself get dehydrated or are unsafe, but everyone is careful about all that in my experience so far.

As I am running, a beat up old Cutlass cuts me off. Not abruptly, but clearly. Pulls in front of me as I'm moving to cross a street, stops, winds down its window.

I pop off my headphones.
The woman driving has a weathered face, red hair; maybe sunspots (maybe. memory).
At first I think she's just asked, "Do you want a lift home?"
I smile. I don't recognize her. But I have an All Hands shirt on, so maybe she recognizes that. Or is making a joke. "Sorry?"
"—ve seen a little white dog?"
I click into this, after a second. "...A little white dog?"
"Little white dog, not big. I'm up from Corpus Christi and somebody just dumped her."
"No I, I'm sorry. What's her name?" I definitely said 'her'; I thought about it and said 'her'.
"Blacka."
I make the woman repeat the name. I'm pretty confident that I've gotten it right.
"Blacka. Little white dog, big titties like she just had babies I didn't even know she was pregnant. Big ears," she cups her hands to her head: ears, big. "Black patches."
She does nothing that I can convey with my limited language to you here, but: it is very clear that the black patches are on the dog's ears.
I have a clear mental image of Blacka. I tell her I'm sorry. I haven't seen Blacka. I'll look.
She looks sad.
I ask her her name. (Her name, not the dog's).
She tells me. Just her first name, at first. Then, in the pindrop moment in which the futility of all this hangs between us, she adds her last or perhaps middle name, stringing it with her first, which is what she is "on Facebook."
I repeat it, her name. And I tell her I'll look out for Blacka.
I still remember her name, now, sitting writing this.
I continue my run as she rolls down the window.

I look for Blacka, throughout the rest of my run. I see many barking, fenced dogs in the homes around here. Some houses destroyed, some damaged, some untouched. A pair of Chihuahuas really makes an impression, as always: they pace me, yapping like mad from (thankfully) the other side of a fence.

I wonder how many and which of these homes will wake up on Sunday, get into cars for a short drive to church, and arrive within meters of where I am now sitting to find A. and C's baked goodies waiting for them.
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