Friday, March 8, 2013

Sturdier Stock Than I

I don't like Fort Davis, Texas.

It's a dusty little town forgotten by most and existing, well, I'm not sure why.  It's dusty here. When the wind blows, it brings more dust. My skin suffocates under layers of it. My hair scares me. My breathing labors. So, we're getting out of here.

But first, I need to mail off some birthday cards.

So we head to the post office, where I first meet a fellow sorting mail. He's a youngish guy, all smiles. He nods. Friendly.

At the counter, I watch as two women engage in a brief hug, then, with their arms still engaged, pull back and give each other wide, toothy grins. "It's so good to see you," one of them says. "I heard about your loss. I am so sorry."  "Oh, thanks. I'm OK," the woman in mourning says. They lock eyes briefly, then  they detach and get on with their business. Girlfriends.

My turn at the counter is sweet. I tell the postal worker my oversized card is for my granddaughter. So she digs in her drawer and pulls out a "Finding Nemo" stamp. Thoughtfulness.

I thank her and turn to leave and am stopped by the sight of a crowded bulletin board. Bake sales. Story times. A firehall dance. An involved community.

Then two men in front of me exchange greetings and the one man says to the other, "How are ya?" The older man smiles and nods, then says, "I'm just fine!  I miss (Maude? Mable? inaudible name, but definitely a recently passed wife), but I'm getting on just fine."   Resilience.

On my way out the door, a feller tips his hat and says, "Howdy." 

OK. I get it.  Fort Davis, dust and all, is a pioneer town. It's alive, perhaps, because of people like these, people who reinforce their independence with self-reliance  and a strong sense of community. 
People who don't crumble under the dust. They just shrug it off.