Today was the day.
That morning, she had woken up with every expectation that she would be flying home, back to California, to the big central valley. She thought 7 hours into the future, looking out the tiny plastic window at the irrigators crawling across the acres of lettuce. She could almost smell the lettuce, that mineral smell, in the cabin. It was impossible. Maybe it was impossible, maybe not. Maybe the smell made it up that high, into the clouds.
Even just last night she had a long, moody fantasy about the Representative (D-Ceres) finally being free, his wife burned to death in a car accident, of him coming over to the apartment unannounced, beside himself with grief and yet also free of years of a loveless union, finally free to be with someone he loved, her. They couldn’t get married, not right away because it wouldn’t look right.
But it was this morning that it had happened to her, that everything had changed. She had always been taught that the God of Abraham, her God and her parent’s God, the Creator of the world, the single monolithic God of the west, was a personal god. That this God had a special relationship with the Jews, with her. She had never felt it of course. She’d felt that personal yet distant relationship before, just never with Yahweh. She used to know it as true in her heart that Harrison Ford would come to Modesto, that he would see her in the mall (she would be there shopping with her friends) and he would realize she was the perfect person to play the role of his daughter in his upcoming film. After a quick phone call to mom and dad, she would be whisked by helicopter to Los Angeles, where he would be so kind and gentle to her on the set, and tell her what great hair she had, that fantastic semi-fluid mass of curls, more like a cloud formation than hair really. That was how he would think about it, with his being a pilot and all.
But she had never felt that kind of relationship with God. She'd had a much closer relationship with the Representative (D-Ceres), of course, but she could now see that despite the physical intimacy, what she had once interpreted as a manifestation of the Right Honorable’s love was as absurdly distant as the love of Harrison Ford in his helicopter. That revelation, that stripping away of pretense and illusion, was what God had done for her. Even at the time, the moment when God openly revealed his presence in her life, it seemed funny. After all, this was the kind of thing that happened to people out in the desert that lived in a trailer, stockpiling canned food in a broken down van in the back yard, Christians. The Jews seemed too reasonable for that, the Jews she knew - Mom and Dad, her aunt.
That very morning, she woke up, dressed in her jogging outfit, and went out. She ran down to the park, in the early morning light. There were other runners, military people, housewives, policy analysts. That was when it happened - the slanting orange light of the early sun tilted down between the trees and drove back into her skull. She stopped and dropped down on one knee, inadvertently adopting a posture of prayer. The light drove in, and it was like it blew twenty years of black crud straight out of her brain. Worrying about her weight, about love from the people around her, her grades, her career that was years off and yet a source of constant worry. She saw a temple on a hill, a temple that wasn't built yet, something that was more than just a place of worship. It was a school, a hospital, a workshop. It was surrounded with people, working in the fields, teaching classes in an outdoor amphitheater, working on a machine that was pumping clear blue water into a cistern. She saw herself there. She was one of the teachers.
She spoke with a perfect command of Spanish. That’s what everyone was speaking. She knew some Spanish from high school, but this was really exciting, to hear herself speaking it so fluently. She stood in front of a dark wall that was marked with chalk, she was holding a cube of chalk in her hand. Sometimes, while she was talking, she would quickly reach out and make rapid, looping additions and annotations to the mathematical symbols covering the board. Other times, she could watch herself start in on a new thought, and signal to a young boy dressed all in white, kneeling down at the corner of the wall. The boy would run forward and wipe the board clean with fast stokes of his sponge and bucket. The boy was so eager, his eyes brimming with love and respect.
She was beautiful! Her skin was tanned and dark from the sun. She was glowing with health and happiness. All the constriction around her heart, that she could feel deep down in her belly, it was gone. Her arms were strong with muscle, tan feet stood in the sand from beneath her long white dress. And her hair! A crown, a headdress of lustrous black curls, long radii of curls that shimmered and moved as she talked. Her crown.
She ran home, without stopping, her path clear. She turned on her computer, so she could take care of just a few last things before she left. She sat down and quickly selected a wristwatch to send to the Representative. She quickly typed in an inscription, "Time’s winged chariot draws near... love C." She pulled the office address for The Rep off www.agriculture.house.gov, then splurged for the watch to be sent Overnight Express.
Next it was on to NationalGeographic.com. The map of the world loaded. Her eyes unfocused. There - Mexico. Click to Recenter and Zoom. The Occidental Sierra Madres. Click and Zoom. Cuauhtemoc - Where she would build the Temple.
There would be ice cream in the temple, a Baskin Robbins. She grabbed some information on opening a franchise, the quickly leapt over to Amtrak to get a train schedule down to San Diego, where she would cross over the border on foot, boarding a Mexirail train in Tijuana. From there she bought an old Toyota truck for the long drive into the mountains.
It was hard, much harder than it seemed it would be during that bright moment in the park, but she was undeterred. She’d never done this kind of driving before. She couldn’t even parallel park when she started. She taught herself to drive stick. Once she was pulled from a ditch by a mule team. Another time, she walked and jogged along side the truck while a 10 year old boy drove at 5 miles an hour through an impossibly narrow mountain canyon. She filled the truck with construction supplies, water, tools and food. She didn’t know how to do anything. She didn’t know Spanish, or how to mix concrete, or how to lay a foundation. She didn’t know first aid, or how to secure a safe drinking water supply, or how to raise a windmill, but she would learn. The scales had been lifted from her eyes. She would follow the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance east, into the rising sun, where she would raise a mansion of rooms where others like her could find rest and solace.