This is how valuable life is: any part of it can become mythic.

California traffic makes sloths impatient. It turns a tortoise to a homicidal maniac.

Cars stop without warning, engines gurgling over still wheels in the heat. Some crash providing gawkers another reason to burn everyone in the world's most despised activity. All reality has entertainment value.

But nobody likes to wait.

Toss up: maybe having a root canal would be better.

We're not moving. Nobody knows why. Seems like the other lane always moves faster in the exhaust steam. Somewhere on the earth is a highway void of activity. Where is it? Not here.

Yellow brown desert scrub shimmers under a cloudless blue sky because nothing like a strip mall ever belonged there. It's left alone except for the gray ribbon swarming with diseased cars. Automobile arthritis.

Some overheat. The roadside is littered with failed machines, stranded travelers fresh from air conditioned comfort plunged into nineteenth century summer, shouting panic into cell phones no larger than cherry tomatoes.

Should have taken the plane.

When it gets like this I think of the ocean. I think of the time the big booms ricochetted over the horizon sounding like someone had pulled the drain plug and the Atlantic was tornadoing down to the center of the earth.

It was on the news, the booms. The news people didn't know what they were but we all supposed the government was blowing up something out there where nobody was looking--that, or the secret UFO base in the Sargasso Sea was taking deliveries of black holes.

When it gets like this I think of you walking in the wet sand smoothed by foam rushing up your ankles. Somehow you're still there walking in the cool, seagulls hovering overhead on offshore breezes, clouds gathering for a late afternoon storm where we'd run for cover from raindrops as big as your toes. Sit on the deck at Moby's Lobster House. Drink a beer and smell the pungent air left by lightning bursts as the world went by.

When it gets like this I think of the first time you kissed me. How I wanted it so much I thought my heart would burst through my chest, or I'd get up and scream because I just couldn't ask. You don't ask someone to kiss you--it ruins it. You have to wait until they do, or you do. It has to be right. Between the thunder and the sailboats tacking, there in the left-handed silence just shy of awkward, when lips closing the distance you've mapped with your eyes happens in a half-stanza like a poem you have to complete with your body--then everyone knows it's right.

You kissed me then and I'd been waiting. And when you stopped I knew the purpose of my soul's incarnation would be to wait for the next.

Silly things kids think.

When I was young there was nothing that couldn't be wonderous. When I got older time took all the color out of things. Life like a painting bleached in sunlight. Fast cars slowed forever on a highway to somewhere so distant you have to be reminded over and over where you're going.

I really liked you a lot back then. You know? I was probably in love too young. Then I moved away and you went away and so did all the beaches and ozone and nights watching the lights of the ships off shore.

The big booms in the ocean nobody ever figured out.

The car in front of me moves a couple of feet.

I'm here. I wonder where you are now.

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