She asked me whether I had brought People Magazine on the trip.
(The question was loaded with history, with the good-natured teasing we enjoyed around the fact that I sometimes buy People Magazine when I travel, that for awhile I used it the way other people use television at the end of a long day or a long week, to unplug and distract the mind with nonthreatening, unchallenging trivia. The question was loaded with the joke that I used to have a subscription but when I moved into the Zen Center I let the subscription lapse because I was too embarrassed to have the magazine sit in the common mailboxes for everyone to see.)
I held up the magazine I was reading for her to see: National Geographic.
“I brought this.” Not People.
“This is for all the People.”
We were out on Tamales Bay and one night we got into the car and I remarked, “I’m always amazed at how dark this place is when you get away from civilization.”
“And by ‘this place’” she quipped, perhaps because on the surface the sentence seemed clear enough but the congruence of the bits and pieces didn’t endure scrutiny at the scale of local geography, “do you mean earth?”
And indeed, that was what I was thinking.