Photo + (Family – You) = Still a Selfie

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Dividing the thing into 3 parts (you bet I’m oversimplifying it and you bet I oughta know better) 2 of those parts wanted something silent. 1 of those 2 declared it, yeah, sure, but didn’t follow through. Could never be expected to. Had every right and reason not to. Must and mustn’t. The Distant Right didn’t want it to happen at all, so they, at the Far Top and Center, ruled the thing illegal. Those other 2 parts out of 3, be they Middling Meddling and Forwardly Flailing, decided to detour, ignore it, do it anyway, recycling the concept of declarations and permissions, again, perhaps never originating there. They changed the dictionary for a thesaurus and took the streets. Such pages grow at altitudes and latitudes of neither plain nor plateau.

People of the wood.

Part 2, the Rumination towards Regulation (the Party Formally Known as Middling Meddlers), wanted silence, wanted a manifestation á la metaphorical, a thing of peace, unity, justice. Their words, not mine. They wanted peace with Part 3, or at least loved a mutual enemy. Part 3 over there on the Cortex Creative (conceived somewhere called Progress in the Dark Places, with a hand outstretched and searching), showed up as expected; showing up being that thing that they do in a top-down fashion, but once they’re there, well, consensus versus individual mandate is as scissors is to rock.

Iron people, stone people.

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This thing, neither silent nor boisterous, advanced just barely along the gutters and seemed hardly a march at the double center line. Parts 2 and 3 would turn around in place and climb a dumpster, a light pole, a set of shoulders. They would look, finagle the phone, freeze and steady themselves against the blur of evening through a lens. As the Boulevard of Autonomía dumped down around Recalde and then rose again at Concha Jeneralaren, Parts 2 and 3 peeked and stretched up on tippy toes, turned again and trickled forth.

People of the rivers meeting the sea.

Somewhere in the Basque story is a microcosm of all of us, the hereditarians of here and there and everywhere. Satellites have positioned and posted this family portrait from which you can’t untag. In the right light and near enough to stillness, the viewfinder frames the estuary but the blink of the lens stores a selfie. Agua dulce, agua salada; sweet water, water salted. Reconciliation by dissolving into ancestral brine. Drops of baptismal waters to confound old hatreds with babies of a hundred last names. Basque in this Reflected Glory of 100,000 souls seeing themselves for what they are and seeing yourself among them.

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Sidewalking

Some months of commutes I’ve spent, on foot and off, in the tangled company of cheap earbuds, a charged phone and a decent enough podcast. This is sonic equivalent of an arm’s length away from all else that is shared in the street. I don’t really understand how to behave myself in so much public except to wash my hands when I come back inside. There are just so many faces and bodies with sounds and goings on about their lives.

Hitting the lottery is a little bumping up against and all the disorientation falls away. Her meaty fist against his exposed knuckle is a sober introduction and an adios half-uttered. Probability picks the times and days to pull together the ones knowable; the ones with whom our eyebrows lock and level back and forth, the ones that play chicken with strollers, the ones that crosswalk after we do likewise, during which we are signing each others’ risky business permission slips and we are hushing each others’ Mesolithic brain stems that stop us mid-lurch upon spotting the red, traffic-lit flashes of the hunt.

Even at that empty hour I imagine myself deemed an obvious outsider by some ghostly populace; they can pick out the way I gauge person-to-personal space, and my measurements of auric bubbles on the street. I hope they can root for me when I go up against the ones who I can’t ever figure out how to pass from behind. We share the sidewalk walk walk it out of maybe a meter wide.

Count your blessings if they are certifiably off to one side; even when you’re met with the package deal of a quivering Yorkie, three shopping bags, a lit cigarette and a flip-phone gluing their shoulder to ear.

But the middle-ish walkers, god forbid there’s a small child there too, are tough cookies. Go around a car if you have to. Don’t exhaust your daily ration of mental math just to deduce the next move of some body in the middle-ish. A viable remedy is jumping off into the calle-kalea or onto the front step of an apartment building. Forget that you’re from the burbs of west of the Missisip, because this be a game of awholenotherly dif’urnt ratio n’ execution, girl.

Don’t even ask me how to execute a little vamos vamos Petey c’mon venga vamos around the block on a weekday at 1pm with this toddling bulldog, a tote of empty Tupperwares, and a too long leash.

Yesterday, in a gesture most kind, a lady with her elderly mother hanging from her right arm warned me of the freshly dead rat perfectly centered in the crosswalk – you know, because the dog would go for it. I can say that you really gotta start by pulling one of those things out and throwing it over your shoulder; put your ear to the street.