It wasn’t until I went to college that I understood how much of social interaction is predicated on media retention. My sophomore year, I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the first time. A lifetime of botched or misunderstood one-liners snapped into place. The next day, I caught three references. “BEUELLER!” was no longer a foreign cry of war, but a domestic and light-hearted cry for order.
As a child, I was transfixed by Jurassic Park like any other, but my absolute fascinations didn’t belong to animatronic tyrannosaurs. My mind belonged to a different fossil, the rusted and weather warped chassis of Volkswagen, that, through whatever misadventure, found itself upturned in a mountain gulch outside of Deer Lodge. Such are the images that fill the gaps between Indiana Jones and my first kiss.
Living a space away from the pop culture zeitgeist didn’t make me better. To some, it made me irregular, an uncanny social construction. For others, just a man with the occasional grand pause in cognizance. But, in the end, I’m only a matter of perspective, happenstance quartz through which little light may pass. Quartz that can still refract information, even buried a few feet under.
But it’s cool and calm underground, and when the worms turn the dirt I catch the inference of air, and when footsteps and tractors tremble above, I harden further, and sometimes a family digs in primitive curiosity and they find me, murky and sharp. And the children crack me open to see what’s inside, or they hold me before a light and look at me before sleep in utter reverence of what can only be mountain geology.