There was a large piece of jade sitting in a pond surrounded by a courtyard of cement. Laying in the courtyard we watched the Perseid meteor shower. The future was full of promise. The four of us talked about our dreams ahead and where we had come from as each of us had emerged from such different paths behind us and yet were joined at that moment in time through friendship… Meanwhile down south people were being reborn with slogans of “I found it”, and all she could think of was what a great t-shirt the slogan would make, but instead of the slogan referring to Christianity and Jesus, she thought of silkscreening a marijuana leaf on the t-shirt with the words “I found it” printed carefully below the leaf. Such a shirt if sold on campus should get her through at least another term of university here in the land of the north where her family lived. She watched the changes occurring from down below south in that country that was too powerful for it’s own good. She had grown up in the heart of it, amongst the corn and the towering buildings by a grand lake, yes one of the great lakes in a university town in the very hub of the land, but as the child of immigrants, of those who would always be immigrants. Now she was home, but through accident of birth was considered an outsider, little did she know the effect this was to have on her entire life as she sat at this very moment watching the stars fall into the mountains, the inlet and the ocean behind the concrete square which kept her safe for the moment. On her own left hand she wore jade as a wedding ring hoping that the wisdom it could bestow on her and it’s luck would lead to an ever deepening relationship with the one she loved. Yet she couldn’t know the forces outside of these stars, nature and these friendships, the social/political gatherings around them that would force her into making decisions so unlike her and cause her to split into millions of small fragments that she would slowly if ever be able to piece together and become whole again… She remembered being down by the water below while in this Northern land as a little girl, not more than three or four, collecting young fish in a small paper cup from the ocean with the three towering totems behind her casting shadows over her. Back then a large family surrounded her. She remembered the feeling of belonging. She also remembered the Empire Builder, a beautiful train in the 50’s whisking her along to her homeland, to this very spot, passing lakes and waterways after many days of barren but fertile land. You ask how it could be barren, while it grew crops and crops and more crops, but it was devoid of peoples and to a little girl that felt barren. She loved the train and the travel back to her homeland, She was allowed boxes of Crackerjacks. Each box contained a photo of a little sailor pictured at it’s bottom while the rest of the box was wrapped in a paper likeness of all the promising sweet goodness to be discovered inside which would beckon any child. Once opened and inside the box, not only would one discover the yummy sweetened popped caramel corn with those delicious caramel coated peanuts that you could never get enough of, but it also contained, between two small pieces of paper stuck together, those special treats of a small plastic surprise that was worth nothing, but meant everything to the small girl as it was something she could hold on to and feel in her hand. It was real. It never mattered what it was or if it was something she even wanted, just that it had substance. She had always loved trains and certainly enjoyed hurtling home, but ironically enough she didn’t remember the trip back to the overbearing land down south.
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