we drove out to the south rim of the grand canyon in my in-laws' beleaguered old grey bmw. i had lobbied for us to take two cars—i like escape hatches—but i was overruled. the radio didn't work, and the seatbelt on the left in the back was busted. my mother-in-law took that seat on the way out to the canyon and tried to take it on the way back: "i can't let you sit in that seat, girl." joe's father has called him boy for as long as i can remember, but this was new. at a pub crawl in flagstaff with his aunts a few days earlier, you're part of the family NOW!
we steered my redheaded nephew away from the canyon rim as we made our way to a stately old hotel perched just where the transplanted california condors meet the sunset and the oldest of the ancient rocks (vishnu, brahma, and rama, thank you for having us). he is not a death-hamster—he is an aerial hunter like my cats, and we understood each other once i learned to throw things in his direction and present him with small treasures—but he is a young member of my pack and i want him to get taller in the absence of cliffs.