Let me drive out of town, at the wheel or in the backseat, and exhale at the first sight of agriculture, the whiff of manure or pine needles, until the quilt of farming gives way to exhausted lands abandoned or waiting, and then these gold stretches give way to mountains or coastlines where I can look back at the city and snip my ties, at least temporarily, and find myself in a single moment, a tourniquet of simple distance stanching the flow of ideas, and in this moment, timeless, there is an insect or a cloud pattern or a tiny change in the weather and I am again free to ask myself what I wish to do. The justifications seem so much more slight from that perspective, cut away from the urban life. Who cares why? And who cares when or even how? What am I wishing for? What wishes? I zip up my jacket because I feel the cold suddenly, and a grasshopper jumps, and I notice a flower, wilting; winter is coming, for instance, and what do I wish for sunlight? Somebody's tears, splashing on their skin? Some animal loping across the veld toward me or away from me, with the sky dominant in my view, eclipsing all the land for 360 degrees? Africa? Shading my eyes as I walk out of a hotel in India, realizing I have overslept again? But here is Babloo with his rickshaw, waiting since dawn for you, and off we zip into some secret part of the city's shadows where Babloo will introduce me to people who are concerned only with the rasping hunger on their tongues and the inch by inch battle for territory on the street corners they conduct their business and lives; and in these interviews I cease to exist, all appointments mean nothing, there is only right now, the heart of somebody's story, and I am each time amazed that I get to hear it, that I get to see somebody reveal themselves and express their frights or delight. If I listen with respect and curiosity, I often feel as if I am them, and the hurt and the heat and the hope suddenly feel so different from my own neighborhood, and that self I cultivate by accident, "back home," might as well be on Mars and unreachable. Because the language I need in these moments is nothing I speak, even to myself, and the rewards are thrilling as communication is made: Would I like a tea, for instance?
-- from correspondence to Lisa E., photo by Blue of Lisa @ the Deej, November 13