Off the trail into Los Alamos, grocery store beeline that takes us through curiously called streets, Oppenheimer, Bikini Atoll, Eniwetok, reminded that Lee had said last night that his team could trace a direct lineage back to the Manhattan Project. He said it cautiously, not knowing how we’d react to the hint of pride in his voice, but I hope that he could sense that—whatever the distorted retrospective thoughts we might have about the moral dimensions of it, and distortions can arc toward truth or falsity—we respected his work. The National Lab buildings, quiet on a Sunday, neat trim clean taking on an exaggerated innocence shouldering up among the banks and drug stores and churches.
Sit for lunch in front of the Smith’s, gorging the way folks might after the squint and blink among the choices in the aisles. Nick and Lael seem to me to be eating impossibly healthily, Cass and I went straight for the pastry case. We pedal out of peopleshot, it was an intermission that we shrug at.
Hours later, a trail ascent that could be a forty five minutes of any great locals’ after work ride, then on to pavement to the ski area. Pines, singletrack with rocks here and there, tilting light ready to skid slide slip off of the Earth’s curvature. Up some more until trembling city lights below to prefigure my own trembling until the down quilt gathered around me leaves just crack in the car window highway whistling at the darkness, catch a gust from under the edges of Cass’s megamid. We talk for a long time, we fall asleep.
* * *
Tomorrow we will talk about the ants that are taking over the universe, about films, favorite writers, yoga in England, the very idea of secrets, 1100, religion, Peru. We talk in the easy way, alternately meaninglessly and unselfconsciously seriously, that friends who have long days to talk about anything do, the way that talking would be if you weren’t trying to extract something or compete or plead. So we see this place, and we place ourselves to one another in it.
“I mean, can you think of any superheroes other than Iron Man and Batman who are just ordinary human beings? I admire that about them.” Cass says this matter of factly, his English accent giving it a gravitas.
“Right, yeah, there’s all the Watchmen other than Dr. Manhattan, but no other major ones, I don’t think. But, seriously, you prefer Batman Begins over The Dark Knight? I can’t relate… . Though I’ll tell you in one word what made that Avengers movie. Wait, two words.” Dramatic pause.
Lael is peering at us, either in contempt or keen interest.