The Dust Journals – Part XII

Friday, March 11, 2157

Walter is so wonderful.

Most of my life, the people I’ve encountered don’t give a damn about anything but their immediate existence. They have no time for anything else, especially other people’s complex emotions.

I’ve lived most of my life, most of my adult life, among this class, 22nd century hunter-gatherers. We don’t stay in one place for very long. And when we do, we form only superficial communities, like back at the arroyo. Folks were pleasant enough, but we stayed in our silos. In reality, we don’t have time for our own complex emotions much less anyone else’s.

Walter is different. He doesn’t have to hunt or gather. He has stayed in one place for a long time, here at the desal plant.

Great Granddad used to say that he never had a problem in his life that he couldn’t solve with a few buddies and a good stiff drink at his favorite bar. He said that was the secret to life, implying that I should follow his example. Let’s dissect this advice.

We don’t have a few good buddies, those of us stuck in C-zones and D-zones. We follow the water. We have to be first in line to get the water. When you’re constantly fighting for first place, you don’t tend to form many lasting relationships. You may form temporary alliances, to further your own gains. Great-Granddad said he and his best friend had known each other for over 60 years, until they started dying off. I can’t think of anyone I’ve stayed in touch with for more than six.

Hunter-gatherers establish no roots. Business cannot afford so fickle a population. So there are no bars in C- and D-zones. Therefore, if I had a few good buddies, we’d have no place to get plastered.

Great-Granddad used to go on a tear about people who “claimed” they had to choose between paying the bills and buying food. He called that bullshit. That was not a reality he knew or could fathom. And for a while, I couldn’t fathom it either, when I was a kid.

As an adult, it has become my reality.

In my world, the vagrant world of C- and D-zones, you either drink the water, or bathe with it, or wash your clothes with it, or water the plants you hoped one day would feed you with it. You cannot do all four at once. The ration was always too low.

We have no friends and we have no bars. We just have the either/or choices associated with survival.

Walter, though, he belongs to a different era. I could see him running a bar or being someone’s drinking buddy. He tells me not to be hard on myself.

I told him about the voices. He said he has them, too. And I cried.

© 2015, gar. All rights reserved.

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