Saturday, December 10, 2011


December 10, 2011 – Comparison

I can’t help myself from comparing. Maybe it’s human nature. Maybe it’s a personal flaw. Maybe it’s just my curious mind always trying to make sense of what I see. As if that weren’t bad enough I find myself contrasting everything too. Putting experiences side by side. Holding them up by the tips of my fingers to see how they catch the sunlight. Gazing at them through my mind’s eye like at those Spot the Differences pictures in the comic section of the newspaper. This might just be me stringing connections together where before there weren’t any in order to tell a story. Whatever it is, it’s what I do.
When my mom drives me home from the airport all I want to say is, “In Peru this…” or “In Peru that…” or “In Lima there’s…” I’ve come back with a new prescription to my world view glasses and it’s all I can focus on. If I keep my mouth shut maybe I’ll avoid sounding obnoxious.

Sunday morning traffic is pretty light. I’m shocked (not into silence though) by the calm, the order. There’s a Dallas area adage that I’ve used plenty of times in my life that says, “Six Thirty-Five is always bad.” And it is. Until now. 635 is one of the main highways in the complex and veiny highway system of Dallas Fort Worth. On this ride 635 is practically empty. The cars that happen to be zipping by or getting left behind us all stay in their own proper lanes. No one honks. No one leans out the window and yells, “Avance!” No one pulls out in front of us and then stops dead to haggle rates with someone standing on the side of the road. Clots of taxis don’t trawl the roads looking for fares. In fact, I don’t see a single taxi or bus.
“We’ll take the Dallas Tollway,” my mom says, “because 635 gets backed up a little around Preston Road.”

Light and orderly traffic

I sit back and enjoy the ride. After a trip down three laned Javier Prado with a mess of traffic that crowds in six or more cars and feels like a dare against death backed up seems relative. Just having a personal vehicle seems like a luxury.
It’s fall in North Texas. The trees, whose numbers seem greater than I remember, have turned delightful colors of orange and yellow and red. “Look at all the trees!” I exclaim. “I didn’t know Dallas was beautiful.” I didn’t. The blend of road and tree, cement and green, skyscraper and sky makes a contrast of color I’d never fully noticed.  
I’ve not been totally oblivious; I used to be shocked by all the trees and flagrant greenery when I came from mountainous and arid Colorado to visit my folks. Despite its more temperate growing environment, Dallas had always come up short for me in comparison to Colorado. Now I wonder how Colorado would stop me with its beauty. I wonder how the city of 400,000 would seem flat-lined after Lima. I may not get the chance this trip to see, but part of my heart beats faintly from an altitude of 6035 feet.

Some bit of me belongs in Colorado, but when I talk about going to Texas I always say, “When I go home.” Because home is where unconditional love ripens and never spoils. Home is the place where I can leave my composting worms with my dad because he gave them to me in the first place and I know he’ll take care of them while I’m gone and maybe forever. Home is where memory smells like honeysuckle vine and looks like Black-Eyed Susans. Home is a place I can leave behind and come back changed, and yet people will still know me by name.  

If heaven were a garden; it’d be my mom’s backyard.
If paradise were a house; it’d be found at 1222 Carroll Drive.

If happiness were living beings; they’d be my parents’ dog-friends Oscar and Rocky.
If friends were parents; they’d be mine.

Friday morning I go to get the insurance card for the white van from my grandmother. She and my grandfather are letting me borrow it for the weekend. I’ve too quickly given up on my idea of taking public transportation or walking everywhere while I’m here. Convenience presents a persuasive argument.
“Do you have a minute to come inside?” she asks.

I do. I have about five minutes before I need to head out across town to meet a friend for lunch.
We sit in the front room.

“You’ve changed,” she tells me after she settles down and turns to face me.  
“I have? How do you mean?”

“I noticed it after you came over the other day.” She pauses, and I wait with a weave of curiosity and mild fear about the size of a Taco Bell Hot Sauce packet. I’m not quite sure how to take this. I can’t tell if she means this in a good or bad way. I feel like so much depends on her answer in the way that William Carlos Williams said:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I stay politely in my chair waiting.

“You seem more cosmopolitan.”
I breathe again even though I don’t exactly know what that means.

“I think it’s a good thing,” she says without me having to ask. “You’re a woman of the world.”
She’s comparing me to who she saw me as last. She’s contrasting my behavior to what defined me before. I can understand this. Ain’t that what I’ve been doing myself?


  1. Where unconditional love ripens and never spoils!
    Have I told you, you're mostly poet? You write so beautifully, Amanda!

  2. City planning makes a hell of a difference, don't it?