Opening weekend. This is my place, goddamnit. My name may not be on the deed, it may even say “public” on the sign, but it’s mine nonetheless. I’ve purchased it with the coin of time and sweat and shoe leather and blistered skin. And I sure as hell don’t want to share it.
Yet here they are, the bastards. Rich ones in their new trucks pulling shiny trailers. Poor ones in rustbuckets with plywood boxes thrown in the bed. And all of them – regardless of social class – here to take what’s mine; what I thought I was jealously guarding by keeping my big mouth shut. Self-delusion: I was born to it.
I drive around the area – my area – and the license plates read like a litany of the dead for what used to be bird country: Alabama. South Carolina. North Carolina. Tennessee. Florida. Kentucky. Virginia. Georgia. Arkansas. Louisiana. Mississippi. The In-state-but-out-of-towners. The Mongol hordes of landless Texans. And me.
I want to hate them all for being here, for fucking up my little set-piece dream of solitude and birds and the pup and me and not another living soul under this brilliant bowl of sky. But of course I can’t. Because they are me. He is us. Not enemy, but kindred seekers trying to sate the desperate hunger for a moment when sky and birds and dogs converge into an instant of pure meaning.
And how can I begrudge my kindred their quest for such validation of existence? I can’t. So my little set-piece dream is returned from whence it came, shoved back in the mental file labeled “unfulfilled.” I load up the pup and drive home. There will be no solitude, no magic and no first point this day. Today belongs to others. And as road dust obscures the receding prairie in my rearview mirror, I must convince myself once again.
I don’t begrudge them. Really, I don’t begrudge them. But you can bet your ass I’m gonna beat those kindred sonsabitches out here next weekend.