CH. 64 «Really Going to Miss this Place»

AIPTEK

07-01-2310

The sky filtered cinnabar light from the morning sun that saturated the very air with red, even indoor. Outside the plexi-window of her unit, the crumbling karst of a creek sprang forth with life into a green ravine. The overflowing runoff spout that created it either terribly planned, or perfectly plotted for the experimentalist type who may want to see water erosion on Martian soil. The sound of spring bird chirps on the wind floated across the accidental/incidental artificial gully and drifted through the open screen. The ambiance, along with the smell of some of Jove’s most precious fire that it kicked up, was reminiscent of the first time I’d ever visited Mars.

The view outside hadn’t really changed much over the three or four months while the weather has been like this. Maybe the tall grass had tanned and browned to a more golden shade, but other than that the sights and sounds of the natural feature outside Shayne’s living room window had been the same since the beginning of March. Spare one other thing; there aren’t any students or grads flowing to and from campus from the housing complexes on the hill.

There weren’t any students around anywhere. The lively Ivy League university had become a swampy, tropical ghost colony in a matter of days. Random wayward collegians wandered bereft of anything important or anyone interesting to talk to here and there, but mostly they remained scattered in the peripheries of their homes or around the stores of the university shopping center. I can’t see them, but I know there are grad students about; they do good to keep hidden. The summer just means more time to work for them, so anyone still on campus is stowing away in the hills surrounding it and probably wondering why they got themselves into a year-round 5-year grad-program.

Yesterday I roamed the University Town Center shopping district on the north end of campus and saw how dead it’s really gotten here. Shops had new, slimmer hours and some eateries weren’t open for the lunch rush, signs that business had declined drastically. All of a sudden, it was like the plug had been pulled and drained all the customers away. Or so it seemed to someone who had been stopping by there at least once a day, most days for the past 2 months he worked for the Census. It looks like even that too is closing up shop, though, and I am once again unemployed.

I still take care of the yard at my bandmate’s unit, and I still deliver packages and make a few calls for the imaging company once in a while, but I can’t really consider either of those gigs real, dependable, or gainful employment. There’s really no way I could advance in either field without a lot of time into the crafts of cleaning house and picture snapping, and I’m not truly certain if I want to pursue a career in either right now. It’s also not likely at all that I’ll be able to find myself any other jobs that would pay even half as well anywhere on Mars within the next two months, especially seeing how under-qualified I really am.

It seems like a good enough a time as any to go home, now. My father’s company seems to be picking up even more work. My mom finally seems like she’s had it with the old unit we’ve been living in since I was born, and it could probably use a good fixing up before she can put it on the market. I want to help my family move out of and into whatever housing unit we can get. I also want to be there for my little brother, and make sure that he’s doing the right things like getting a steady job and being diligent in school by doing it myself to set a better example for him. And anyone else there that I love and care about that I’m sure miss me, I’m going back for them to help make their lives easier somehow, too. Instead being the burden I’ve always been around here.

It’s for all of them I leave Mars, but it breaks my heart to think about it, and I feel I’m constantly reminded of what I’m going to miss when I blast off this world. The red planet has been a good host to me, hostile and uncomforting at certain times, but even accounting for all the misfortune it’s been a worthwhile experience. My days left here are numbered so I really have to appreciate what remains in store for me. Without overdoing anything, though.

I’ve become so accustomed to the lifestyle here; waking up late enough to see the working day has passed in the rest of Sol. Mostly due to the convenience of so many late-night eateries and bars that kept me awake long into the morning. I’ve gotten spoiled by the ability to taste anything or feel an experience I could possibly desire, often with a choice between many different flavors and varieties of each, available at any time with little to reasonable effort. I’m a bit addicted to be riding the crest of the biggest, new wave and being ahead of technology and fashion compared to my friends on other planets, and that I don’t even have to be at the Martian pinnacle to feel decades ahead of some worlds. Though I realize they’re things I really don’t think I need, I’m afraid I’m going to feel withdrawals from any that I’m not able to find a viable substitutes on Earth.

There’s a handful I can think of right off the top of my head I’ll never be able to replace. Infrastructure was laid out efficiently before development of the world; the planet plotted and parceled out so precisely. The modern engineering marvels that allowed the red, desert world to bloom so quickly are really something to behold: the electricity and utility grids, mail delivery and shipping lines, and sure, the transportation system too. Even if it ends up terribly congested most of the time, I dig the freeways. I find it easy to use, in theory any destination on this half of Mars is quickly reachable with the right combination of exits.

Seeing the palms and succulents bursting from between the cracks of even the most urbanized areas reminds me I’m standing on a world much more dire than dear Earth. It makes you long for the way things were back home and the animals and tress you’re accustomed. And when the only thing you want on a blisteringly sunny day is shelter or respite from intense UV rays the indigenous trees offer very little in the way of protection… If you could call a palm a tree. I’ll never get that overwhelming sense of optimism and hope for life and creation with as few wild things as are around here. However I totally still respect the flora and fauna of Mars, and regard them certain esteem for being able to withstand this wasteland. The stacked odds make anything that can survive here even more beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful wildlife, we can agree that there are few places in Sol that can claim to have as high a concentration of physically attractive women as does Mars. Whether it’s because we have highly advanced technology available more widely than most other worlds, because the entire planet pioneers the trends of fashion and style, because people who can truly afford it here can also spring for cosmetic mods, or because people with great genes have populated this dusty place; Martian girls appear to come out a few standards higher when they’re rolled off the assembly line. And even if I know better by now than to trust something so GMO’d it doesn’t mean I’m going pass up an opportunity to stare as they pass by. I’ll miss being able to casually glance in any direction and get a piece of eye candy.

The weather is to die for, and anyone who’s been here longer than a day will tell you that. No other planet I know of has as many consecutive months of perfectly hospitable temperatures as Mars, and no other place has as many breathtaking sunsets as the almost entirely west-facing coast of Amazonia. Every evening is an intimate display of magentas, oranges and rose. I’m gonna miss hiking up the boulder and sage filled hills to get a better view of the colors cast on the ruby sea. And crossing that virgin red terrain, uncrushed under the ever-sprawling mechanized foot of development, it’s something I could never feel on Earth. I’ve never felt so at home here than to be alone in the alien wilderness.

Mars is a petty place, its greatest attractions are all external. They’re things of aesthetic, but often powerful enough to overcome the low moisture and poor air quality, and fear of falling sky or breaking ground to make this place appear nice enough to raise your family.

If it weren’t for the internets I would say I’m going to miss my friends that I’ve found here in this desolate place. How can you miss someone you’ll be bringing around with you in your pocket everywhere you go? I guess I’ll miss hanging out with Gerund, Nymh, Shayne, and all of their friends that have made my life so enjoyable over the past few years, but I’m going to be doing my best to keep in constant contact with them, to help make it feel like I’m not really gone.

I’m really going to miss this place, though.

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PREV: CH. 63 «Me and Nomi, the Γ-555»

PREV: CH. 63 «Me and Nomi, the Γ-555»

NEXT: CH. 65 «Words on Parting Mars»

NEXT: CH. 65 «Words on Parting Mars»

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