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Man, the new updates for Vine, Twitter, and Instagram are on point. Technology takeover. Developers are really figurin out how to appease consumers. It’s a crazy Age of Enlightenment and Connectivity.
I keep telling myself, and others, that I will be a much funner guy on the other side of this mountain. I hope two things:
1. I make it that far.
2. I remember how to have fun once I get there.
I am hopeful I will achieve my goals with these hopes realized!
It’s easy to ignore a hater’s insistence that you can’t do something and just go for it anyway. It’s almost more fuel for the fire. It’s a completely different story to try something anyway when it’s a friend you trust that’s telling you this is too much for you or that it’s impossible. Then it takes an immense sense of self-confidence, bordering arrogance.
You have to just know you’re right, and challenge that belief every chance you get, to prove it.
Kaleb, Brandon, Jake, and I, along with the other young people in our pack, approach the deep canyon with buckets of overflowing joy and no caution. It reminds one of the feeling exuded from these guys when we started climbing giant, orange boulders in Anza-Borrego, and not just because this canyon is this exact same color palette, and not just because the canyon carries a similar imposing destitute feeling when you realize you’re trapped at the top and everyone who can help you is down beneath, and not just because your shoes don’t allow for you to climb a rock face while your shoulder is as injured as it is but everyone with you is running and skipping along in their boots made especially for the occasion, and not just because being high with these guys gives you more paranoia in such a situation than their shared wondrous joy because of the problem with your shoes slipping on every stone surface. It’s more a combination of all of those things.
Either way, I stand looking over this canyon with a mindless interest. I am simply intrigued, and hold no fear as of yet. I just wonder what I am going to feel now that we have reached our destination, and honestly I don’t remember the journey to get there at all, which is strange because I do remember making it, and I remember it being long and difficult. I get to the front of our group, which is about a dozen, to look over the canyon.
It’s huge. It’s probably a half a mile across and at least as deep, and the cliffs on either side are so sheer they almost resemble inverted mountain faces. The bottom of the valley is flat, and you could easily drive a car through it, kicking up red sand like you’re tossing paint pigment into the sky. In fact, as I look down the alley underneath the bright blue sky with its lazy, gigantic, white clouds rolling along like fat tourists in a wading pool, I realize that people are doing just that; more than two groups of people are skidding around the canyon floor below, partying and yelling and smiling so big that I can see their teeth gleam in the sun even as far as the horizon - and I imagine that as this valley stretches beyond that horizon and curves with the earth to who-knows-where, dozens more are enjoying this beautiful day, which reminds me of why I am here.
I am brought back to what I think is reality and I notice the group of friends is already discussing our discovery and how to approach it. We have arrived; a thin bridge-like structure, held up by crooked columns of rock no bigger around than a tree trunk, stretches up to precisely the same plane as the valley walls. There is a person-long gap between one end of it and the entrance of the valley, where a decision can be made - do you walk down the cliff face to the valley floor, or hop this gap and stand on this bridge? Both are enticing, but the bridge is far more intriguing.
It looks like Starry Road from Super Mario Kart but mashed up with one of those circle-ish rock formations from the Road Runner cartoons. At the closest end it is about three feet wide, and it snakes its way through the center of the valley all the way to the horizon, curving with both the canyon and the Earth to who-knows-where. It is a magical bridge, placed here by some god of natural creation as a gift for those willing to do the hard work to find it. At its widest, probably a mile out, it is as far from one side to the other as an eight-lane highway. That part looks fun and safe and like it carries the most accomplished view that exists since Earth began carving out its modern vantage points a few million years ago, but the jump to get there is the hard part. I’m feeling particularly adventurous.
Without asking anyone if I should go first or even acknowledging that I have heard a part of their conversation, I leap across the gap and land on the end of the bridge. I immediately realize how bad of an idea this is. I realize that I am wearing my size twelve Nike high-tops, which are great for my tightest blue jeans because they bunch up at the ankles and make me look like an anime portrayal of a hip hop DJ but terrible for hiking because the 1/2-to-1-full-size extra room in the sneakers make my feet slide in them. They also have no grip. I slip immediately and land on my butt. I realize that the end of this bridge shape is not flat, but actually angles down toward the half-mile or so drop to the valley floor.
I begin to dig my heels in, and scrape my fingernails into the soft rock I slide across, flicking red sand into the air. My friends begin yelling out contradicting pieces of advice as I slide further and further toward my doom. Eventually, my heels catch, and for whatever reason I start digging into the rock like it’s Play-Doh. Indeed, it soon turns a yellow color and I can grab it with my hands and pull it like a big, doughy blanket. I am holding on with both hands and both of my heels are dug into the surface now, but I am still sliding toward the edge. My heels slip off the edge time and time again, and I have to crab-walk backward to keep from following them down. Eventually, somehow, I capture this mold of stone and regain my footing, and Kaleb reaches out for me to grab his hand and leap back to safety.
I hop across the gap, and stand looking at the bridge that almost enticed me to death, panting and dusting off my clothes. Everyone pats me on the back and lets me know they are happy I am alive, but explains what it is they were looking at, and why I shouldn’t have jumped. I follow an extended arm and pointed finger with my eye to see the schoolbus driving down the bridge a few hundred yards down. I have no idea how it got there, since there is no access point for a vehicle, especially so big, and especially so oddly created.
It’s a two-piece schoolbus, like the red busses that you ride for express routes in LA, with the rotating floor in the middle and the accordion connecting what is basically two full-size busses into one large bus. But these are connected differently, and the back one sways back and forth like a trailer with a broken wheel. The bus is flying down this bridge like a game of Crazy Taxi, imitating the free-riders on the valley floor. You can see in it, somehow from this far, that there are full families inside. Mostly young kids, but it looks like parents and some siblings were allowed to go along on this field trip. That makes the carnage that ensued only that much worse.
What happens next is completely in slow motion. The tail end of the bus swings to the side and kicks about a ton of rocks off the edge of the bridge, which tumble down and almost hit a group of people on a walking tour of the canyon floor. They walk in the shadow of this bridge, weaving between the crooked tree-like shapes that hold it up hundreds of feet above them, in a canopy of the rigid bridge bottom that is about as wide across as a palm tree is high. That’s not wide enough for this bus to swerve across its slick topside the way it is, and when the tail end swings back we all know something horrendous is about to happen.
At this point I am behind about five people, and I am hoping that their curiosity will block my view, but I am not so lucky. The bus tips off the right side of the bridge, which just so happens to curve in such a way that it is in full display to our front-and-center position. In agonizing detail I watch the prison of metal suck itself to a rocky demise by gracelessly tumbling down the immense free-fall to the ground. Somehow, between arms and necks and faces covered with the hands of those smart enough not to look, I see the screaming faces of poor children in the windows of this bus. Each child has a more intense fear of death in her eyes than the last.
The bus finally hits the ground, which is slanted, and breaks in two. Children are thrown from the vehicle, not dead but not alive, and I see them crash into the cliff faces and get crumpled beneath falling stones and exploding, fiery pieces of the vehicle. I can hear the screams much louder than the explosions. The people I am with are sobbing already. There is the most intense and exhilarating air of overwhelming and invigorating depression ripping through our souls at this horrific display. And then the only thing that could possibly be worse happens. Survivors get up and start crying for help.
I look around at my group, and all of them begin backing off to avoid the task of approaching one of these wretched souls in need of compassion. There is no one who will answer their call; all have entered their own selfish sorrow now, feeling bad for themselves for having witnessed this. I want nothing more than to ball up with them and hold each other and cry, but I can’t muster the arrogance to ignore the injured young girl I see walking away from the flames and smoke. I see the group tour that was almost hit by the crash running in the opposite direction, away from the madness that consumes the scene. I begin my descent into the valley.
When I get to the bottom, I find the girl that was crying. Her face is covered in blood and her arm is mutilated and held up to the sky permanently with a nostalgic terror that reminds me of the time I shattered my cat’s leg by kicking her out of my bed when I was a teenager.
I ask her if I can help her, and she tells me that her entire family is dead. I ask her if I can call someone for her, and she tells me that she watched her mom be crushed by the exploding bus. I reach into my pocket and grab my phone, and I can’t press any buttons. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the phone to recognize the pressure of my fingers. I look around me, through the smoke I can see groups of people holding each other and crying on the tops of the valley walls, looking down and pitying my plight, but offering no service. On the ground I see countless dead and dying bodies but no living people. I am walking behind the stumbling, injured girl, who is aimlessly wandering and crying out toward the heavens.
My head is pounding. The only person who can press the buttons on my phone is her, and somehow I am powerless. I ask her to press a button, but her good hand won’t work either. Somehow we both realize that only her mutilated hand will work to dial 911 on my phone, and begin the impossible task of pressing those three buttons together with the stiffened mess of misery that stands in place of her arm. We get the first button pressed as she screams in pain, and a 9 shows up on the screen. I pull the child closer to me, possibly to hug her and take some of this pain from her, but my mental anguish is only emphasized by the fact that I can’t do anything to ease her sorrow while she cries that she doesn’t want to live because her whole family is dead. I get her to press the first 1.
At this point we are both choking on smoke and I am starting to lose my vision. I can make out that we have just one more button to press, but I can’t hear myself think over her wailing, and the blue, cloud-filled sky is gone and filled with soot. Fires and final breaths of groaning people in the dark can be heard but not seen, felt but not resolved. I get her to press the final 1, but I can’t find the “call” button. I feel fear in the part of my brain that usually manufactures hope. She tells me that I can’t make her press it, and I can’t help her because she doesn’t want to be helped, and that I should let her die and exist in misery forever.
I toss my head to the side as I hear a bang, and I look over the edge of my bed. I have pushed my pillow off the bed, and knocked a Budweiser that was opened but not drunk by a girl in my bed a couple of nights ago. I remember how upset I was that she had opened that beer without drinking it, because I couldn’t afford to buy more beer. I look down. The beer has crashed onto my favorite speakers and covered my desk with sticky liquid, as well as filled my carpet with its two-day-old stench. I decide that I will clean it in the morning and I am thankful that I moved my laptop from that place so that I could write down this dream.
why not? ;)
Because this blog is my one place to mindlessly vent and post things as a visceral response to whatever I am looking at. I curate everything I do for a living and it’s tiring. I love it, but it’s tiring.
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