The wind was coming up from the south. It swirled around our feet and seemed like it was pouring in like a river, just a few feet thick. At times it felt like the whole valley was moving, blowing north in the dark. The field to the south had been burned today, and perhaps some smoke was tracing its way north in the wind. I could feel the ocean, a good 50 miles away to the southwest.

Me and my 2 friends were standing out in the mud pit, at midnight or so, looking at the world. From this place in the middle of California's Central Valley, the world seems infinitely huge. The only things showing beneath the stars were the soft coast ranges to the west, the distant glow of Sacramento to the east, and an old willow growing by an irrigation ditch. A few orange or blue lights on farmhouses poked through the purple-black. As always, the place surged with life, or perhaps just a shadow of life. Long ago, this was a floodplain, covered by marshland in the winter, drying to a golden brown in the fall. On a hot June night like this one, the bunchgrasses would be losing their green, but their roots would still be feeling the last of Winter's rainwater deep in the soil. The Valley Oaks would be fully leafed out and perhaps an orange glow on the horizon would indicate that somewhere, a fire was already burning. Now, it is all just flattened fields, mostly dead. The spirit is still strong, though, and i feel like i can clearly see the place in 200 years, the road cracked and spotted with grasses, becoming buried in creek sediments slowly, all our marks washing away.

One of my friends is staying in school another year. The other is graduating and going on to grad school. My friend who is graduating with me talks of wanting stability, a house, a dog, maybe even getting married one day. My friend who has another year to 'live' has decided that he desperately wants to live every last moment of college life, have fun, go to all the parties... I am stuck somewhere in between. Stability scares me.. it scares me more than anything else. Unlike most people, I can't live with the thought that my life is already planned. But to some extent it is. I am done with college. I am going to be staying around this town, but I already have a job lined up, doing habitat restoration. It is a good job, something i can't complain about. But it makes me sad that i will be tied down again already. I had about 4 free days, and have 3 more before it's all over. After that... the future fades away into darkness like the horizon to the north, to which the wind is rushing in hasty, pensive gusts.

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