Even though I had not planned on it, I may have to purchase a new blanket for the foot of my bed. Several weeks back... a stranger knocked and stood at my front door.
It was just after eleven o'clock at night, and my spouse was out of town.
Someone gave several knocks to the front door.
I peeked around the corner only to see someone wave. I thought, "darn, has he or she seen me now? Darn, I forgot to turn on the alarm." I wondered out loud...Is it my nephew? Did he loose his apartment key again? Is it my flight attendant sister?
I advise myself aloud and my daughter to not open the door unless we know him or her.
The wave meant the person had seen me, because of the window over the door.
Our neighborhood is a section of older homes slowly being fixed up.
There are artsy people, old-timers, new people, retirees, hipsters, and hispanics
but there are also occasional addicts, homeless, and paroles taking a short cut to a church, or a park.
He speaks to me through the door, "Hello. I'm from the Navajo Nation, and I'm a veteran. Do you have a blanket to spare?" He did have a cap on with an insignia, but I don't know what insignia. He also had a jacket, maybe leather. He is older by his voice and I know he is telling the truth by his voice.
I decide to answer back. "Yah'-eh-teh'."
He responds likewise.
and that, "It's cold" and that he would appreciate it, if I had a blanket to spare.
I tell him to wait a few moments and that I would look, but I don't open the door.
I frantically search the house for one, afraid he is under the influence and might try to break in, if I don't hurry. But darn, I've partially decluttered, and I put some linens in storage and the others were donated, because I was not going to use them anymore, because they were all white, and I couldn't figure out if they went on the twin, the full, or the queen. I'm serious. Besides, there is no spare room in these three tiny closets or my armoire to store anything extra. I go to the sleeping porch, and on the pile of clean laundry is a white quilt that I keep at the the foot of my bed. It's the only blanket I have for my bed.
We live in a desert.
We live in a desert.
At this time of year it can be hot in the day, but the nights still cool off.
I tell my daughter to grab the phone, and be ready to call for help if something happens.
I decide to go out the back door, the kitchen door, through the carport.
I call to him, and hand him the blanket over the carport gate.
I remember back many years; there were only three other caucasians at the school. I say, "I went to school on the Navajo reservation." St. Michaels. The Catholic school that had a boarding school in the 80s. He says, he knows it, and "thank you".
(The school is by Window Rock: the capital of the Navajo Nation.)
I run back into the house, lock the door, and turn the alarm on, and hurry to look out the front door, only to see a small thin man wearing clothes too big hobbling down the street.
My daughter says to me, "How did he know to stop here?"
I said, " Maybe because the porch is lit, and the American flag is out there with potted plants that he figured I had a spare blanket."
My daughter asks, "What's the chances of him knocking on a door in Phoenix, and someone greeting him back in Navajo?"
I think the chances are probably small.... Is it a sad or happy story? My daughter and I will never know.
So I might need a new blanket or maybe I don't. hózhó : the Navajo concept of being in balance with "the mundane and the divine".
Here is a photo of a Navajo "blanket" that I own. The Navajo women still make blankets, but the art is becoming less common. This one is more like a wall hanging. One of my daughter's favorite books when she was little was The Goat in the Rug: a story about Navajo rug making. I read her soulful stories and told her my memories of childhood. That's why we have this rug. I'm sad to think he needed a blanket. Yet, I would like to think that perhaps the divine did whisper, "knock". Divine whispers in the ordinary...
I have a photo of the woman who wove it, but I could not find it.
It must be in one of my safe spots.
This article is a glimpse of life in 1972 on the reservation, before I lived up there, but not much different in the early 80s.
Next week there will be a reveal!