A woman in Tonapah, Nevada gave me a raw chunk of turquoise on a Sunday. She asked me if I liked the light or dark, the green or blue and then she dug around the rubble of plastery rocks in an old plastic bag until she found the perfect piece. Deep, lake green with a rift of steamy blue. The shape an upside-down house with stark inlets and points. A fracture near the bottom cracks outward toward the back where regular, grey rocks cover the colors like a dusty mask. The turquoise, half the size of a plum seed, is the most opaque thing I've ever held. I could never look through it, even if the brightest light were shining on the other side. Like every unknown thing could burrow itself inside that creamy color. It is solid, and real and every bit tangible. Without a word, the woman from Tonapah with a husband who works the mines, sealed the lone rock in a cellophane bag and accepted our thanks, but no more. I kept it in a special compartment in the glove box for the rest of the car trip home, and I pulled it out in Lee Vining, in Mammoth Lakes, in Yosemite, and in Modesto when it was almost too dark to see and we'd just cleaned throw up from Remy and the carseat for the sixth time that day. Every time, I couldn't help but feel that the soft-armed woman living in the middle of the barren desert, would have made anyone feel so special.
A friend told me recently that in Cantonese, to spell or describe the word crisis one uses two different characters: danger and opportunity. Just like she said she had, I thought about the possibilities for truth and for change in that statement over and over. Because suddenly, the few things I could have pinned the word crisis to in my life no longer had endings in the word 'crisis', but move past a finality and open up into giant meadows I did not see were there through the thicket of trees I had my eyes so pressed to.
Another friend, who always has the right thing to say, wrote me an email in the which she ended with this: I know that to Remy and to Carl yours is the godliest face...Stand on the mount, proud.