The Crows Have Their Beaks Open

It’s a perfectly hot day in Geneva.

I was on my way to have my ritual savory and sweet crepes and fresh pressed fruit juice when I saw a lady in full workout get-up stopped at a street corner, rising on her tiptoes. She was about a head-and-a-half shorter than me; she was trying to see over a parked car to tell if the light had turned green yet without stepping out of the shade. She had pale, lightly freckled skin with no signs of sunscreen, and I thought, “Why would you go work out and hide from the sun?” So I figured she’d gotten all sported up to hit her favorite indoor workout place. I checked a map; there was one a block away, right where she was facing.

I was made for days like these. When the weather is hot and dry, my muscles thrum, pores open, skin that’s usually a touch oily if I don’t drink 8 glasses a day starts functioning like a perfectly tuned cooling machine. I store the heat and, to my wife’s great displeasure, release it at night. The beach is nice, but the first time I went to the desert, I felt like I belonged there, from the particulate sunrise to the cold of night.

The ladies who run the creperie don’t show any signs of recognizing me, which is fine because I’m one of a thousand weekly customers. But I’m playing a game. I always order the same thing, give the same name with the order, flirt with the younger one just a little. I sit in the sun, and the older of the two – she dyed her hair a lovely shade of red this week - asks if I won’t get insolation (heat stroke), to which I politely smile and say, “I could sit here all day.” I always bring my dishes to the counter and thank them. One day, they’ll remember.

On my way back, I saw a tree that was burned or struck by lightning at some point. Same species as all the others that lined the street, but it was the only one for over a mile that had mushrooms growing on it. Character comes from damage. Life grows in the cracks.

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Synthetic Mountains

My wife grew up in San Diego. I grew up on the French Riviera, at the foot of the Alps. You could spin out a 1000 stories from that fundamental difference – what she thinks of the cheese I like; what I think of the cars she likes to drive - but basically, I gave her crap for her ridiculous mountains, which are secretly fungal hills. You’ll see them if you ever drive around on the West Coast, between Baja and L.A. They're covered in water efficient green stuff and clumps of round, pale boulders that look like mushrooms, and they're short (like my wife - hah). I’m convinced they’re fake. Hippie communes probably store their shag rugs under them.

I was sitting on a friend’s back patio last night, looking up at the Alps. I’d just finished doing a few laps in her saltwater pool (which is awesome btw), so I had that nice I-just-did-light-exercise glow going, a small glass of rosé, and a handful of snacks. There were a couple people there - I think we were talking about work. Then the sun slipped a few more degrees lower and painted the bare rock faces and trees the color of the aforementioned rosé.

That’s when it hit me. I don’t hate my wife’s mountains any more than I hated the elderly gentleman who walked around our neighborhood in New York in purple velour and a top hat. I was just homesick.

Home is where you can feel small and a bit tired but eminently safe. 

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