Non-Fiction, Travel

AMERICA | Albuquerque

At 2:00 a.m. I realize that all possibilities of entertaining myself were exhausted on the road. Hours of driving, of not speaking to anyone. I was left alone with my thoughts, and I would wonder at the big rocks piling up from the ground like a growing and populating mass. Driving, I had to be careful not to wreck, to look at the road instead of the large red-brown-orange boulders emerging from the earth, almost flesh colored. The land reminded me of human flesh, its shapes and curves, like a woman’s body. Like a man’s body. I’ve romanticized about them both, about all of the possibilities and the miracles that each one is capable of. The ground moves.

A soft humming keeps me awake. I’m unsure of where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from the air vents or pipes in the walls or from a neighboring hotel room. I begin to wonder if it’s me. If it’s my pulse or something beating in my ear. I press my palms to my ears and it quiets. It must be external. I burry myself deeper into the sheets and pillows. I wrap myself in the cotton, but the humming doesn’t quit. It’s rattling, almost flapping, and I fling my sheets off me, off the bed, and I jump out. Landing on my two feet, I go to the bathroom door and open it further, letting the light pour into the rest of the room. The noise stops. But then I’m left alone, standing in two rooms: one with towels and a sink and the other with a writing table and ironing board and a TV. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, and it seems as though I’m watching someone else. Like there’s a window between us, and the guy on the other side thinks it’s a mirror. He looks at himself for a moment in the eyes. He starts to do something funny with his shoulders. Analyzing his posture, he stretches, pulls his arms back, spreads out, his chest expands. He returns to his subdued pose, and his shoulders turn in, a concave shell. His chest and belly collect like drops of dew, clinging to the side of a glass or a shower lining. He touches his chest with one hand.

He drops his shorts and stands, looking at himself exposed. He holds himself. Turns to the side. Examining, up and down, the length and width and dimensions of his body. It’s textures: firm around the thighs, softer in between, pillowy above the hips. He looks at the places his hair grows. He pulls his shoulders back. He stands at attention. He is a man who, all at once, having developed notions about his body over the course of his life, abandons them. Seeing it for the first time.