rich dirt

by tobias crabtree

drift (verb) — the tendency of an object to be moved by a larger substance or influence. (this is the “tobias definition” and not to be used in class at harvard…or princeton…or anywhere but here)

here’s my computer’s definition: be carried, be borne, waft, meander, wander, etc.

i have a buddy who has a son named rowan. rowan is 12 and has been raised in a style i really haven’t seen anywhere else. it’s cool, but different. i know little of raising a child because i don’t have any, but i watch. the cliche, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” seems apropos with child rearing. rowan grew up in front of me. i see videos now of when he was 5 years old and i was dressed in a loin clothe with my buddy, trippy, in one of his outlandishly disgusting outfits, as we stand and have a casual conversation and rowan is playing in the background without even noticing us. i can’t really do anything that would shock him, except maybe if i acted normal or something. ethan, rowan’s father, is a hulk. he must weigh in at about 240 and it ain’t fat. he’s a bruiser, he’s also one of the sweetest dudes i’ve ever met. when rowan starts pestering his dad too much, ethan simply says, “rowan, drift.” and rowan does. it’s a strong word, drift.  i like it.

i stopped at a spot on the rogue river a few days ago. i knew the place because once, when i was dating a girl (yeah, i have actually had a girlfriend once…i think) we stopped there and swam. this time around, there was snow coming down and i was alone, which somehow seems fitting. i stopped and got out of the little camper and walked down to the river’s edge. it was as clear as glass. i stripped out of my wool and cotton  and jumped into the hole where i swam a year and a half ago. it occurred to me later that it was the same place i had been when i was so in love except for the substance. that water that we had played in was long gone just like the feelings in that moment…it may well have all washed out to sea, i don’t know. i was there again, and there sat the same rocks and trees. i came up from the burning cold water and breathed deep. i looked in the water and noticed something i hadn’t seen upon entry; there were rocks floating all around me. i’ve seen rocks float before, but i’ve never seen big ones like these. some were as big as my two fists. maybe they were there when i first entered or maybe they floated in from me climbing down the bank, doesn’t matter. the world is so full of strange beauty. i grabbed one and put it in my rig to send off to my nephews (way better than a rubber ducky).

even rocks drift.

i just learned that when you make a hole larger in a hot piece of metal, you are drifting. blacksmiths use the term “drift” in their craft. i love that. to drift is to make a larger space. i relate to this word. i don’t like to think of myself as a wanderer. i feel like i move with purpose, but i’m no fool. i know that i have moved out upon a substance and i am moving toward something bigger. something infinite. i am formed to do this thing that i’m doing. i am shaped for it. as i move on through i am aware of my movement and it’s meaning. i have a keel. this life is the substance. i am in the fastest of currents and moving along quite well towards a finale. i’ll leave what comes after to the theologians and the philosophers and the scientists. for me, the truth lies in the drift. give me this life. it’s all i own. it comes complete with sore shoulders and strange lumps and spider bites. the package is colored by fevers and scars. the soundtrack is filled with dancing feet and wailing mothers, with laughing babies and squawking crows, with singing spruces and singing singers…even the sound of my own worried heart. i have nothing else but what each moment gives me. we create our own fractured expectations beyond what is truly ours. take what you have and love it. i’m trying to do the same, really, i’m trying with all my might.

the worst of us and the best of us are going to turn to dust. i want my dirt to be rich.