Santa Fe is elevated 7,260 feet above sea level. It is not overcast. When there are clouds, the sun fills the space around them and splotches the mountains with their shadows. I’m sitting on the porch of a coffeehouse in the railyard with a spoonful of melted ice cream, accidentally eavesdropping on the telephone conversation of the pretty lady behind me, watching the man across from me. He has a beard like Edward Abbey’s and a red-and-blue forearm tattoo; he’s wearing a straw hat and drinking Coke from a glass bottle.
I was working on a longer blog post, a winding, comprehensive account of my entire summer, but I have to stop to thank the people around me right now for making me feel human again. I wasn’t expecting it to happen this morning. I woke up dead tired in the house we’re renting here while we search for a more permanent place, brushed my teeth, and did my best to get a noncompliant five-year-old ready for school. Not easy, even when loads of sisterly love ought to lessen the struggle. After the rest of the family dispersed, I cleaned the house, sifted through a few hundred emails, checked my itinerary for the trip back to Cambridge, and worried about school.
Several unproductive, fretful mind-cycles later, I put on my sunglasses and walked to the railyard, hoping the sunshine would make me stop twitching and biting my lip. It didn’t quite, but I went to a bookstore in an old white house and looked through old Indigo Girls CD’s and a book of poems by Bukowski, and I guessed what my problem was and wandered over to this coffee shop. The barista looks like a little like Reese Witherspoon and reminds me of my childhood best friend’s mother. I sampled a spoon of ice cream and ordered a cup of tea, and here’s what happened next:
A man with a gray-streaked black ponytail and diabetes, gruff, friendly, and confident, said “my treat,” bought me the ice cream too, and called out to two other people in the café just to ask if they wanted anything. “He’s like the angel of the Station,” Reese-Witherspoon-barista explained.
I felt stupid for feeling anxious, so I quit. I didn’t want my worry to contaminate the rasberry-dark chocolate ice cream. I decided this Station Angel Man deserved a shout-out, and all the other kids who are nervous about another year of school deserve a break, and I deserve a little break. I drew this picture of the railway station. I couldn’t get it to go in right-side-up, so I just left it. Whatever.
Here’s a toast to all you humans.
Coming soon: the story of my summer, starring cousins, bears, and a continuing experiment in cooperative living.