Tulia

Writing 101 Assignment – Write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014.

Note: This actually happened a few years ago, but as I tried to think of someone more recent to write about for this post, Tulia kept coming to mind, so I felt it was time to tell this story.

We followed the GPS instructions along the winding roads of a sleepy neighborhood tucked into a forgotten corner of town. I’ve lived here for more than 30 years and didn’t know those houses were back there, nestled along the banks of Mary’s Creek. It was early summer – not yet sweltering hot, late in the afternoon – and we drove slowly, with the windows down, searching for the house where Jim lived. Jim’s ad on Craig’s List indicated that he had for sale a wine refrigerator that might fit exactly into the space we had in our new kitchen.

A soft breeze kissed our legs as we exited the car after parking at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Light danced in the leaves of the trees and the low sun stretched shadows long and lean across the yard.

Before we got to the front door to ring the bell, she was there, behind us. I turned and found myself looking down at a young, barefoot girl with yellow hair wearing a light blue Laura Ingalls smock dress. There was a blue jay perched on the index finger of her right hand and a small goat standing beside her.

“Hello,” I said.

“Good afternoon,” she replied.

“I see you’ve met Tulia,” a man said, coming down the front steps.

Jim was expecting us. We made our introductions and he explained that Tulia lived across the street, gesturing with his hand in that direction.

“The wine cooler is in the garage,” Jim said, leading the way.

Tulia, the bird, and the goat fell in behind Jim – asserting themselves in an odd neighborhood-welcoming-committee-leadership role, ahead of me and Ken. Ken and I exchanged a quick glance full of unspoken questions and uncomfortable smiles. It’s not every day you meet a girl, her bird, and her goat. I shrugged my shoulders and brought up the rear.

Once inside the garage, it was difficult for me to concentrate on the item we came to see because I found Tulia so interesting. A calm, wise, peacefulness emanated from this child of few words, this child whose presence was not requested, nor was it questioned. Jim carried on almost like she wasn’t there – like she was so present she was invisible. The same way you might not see the Grand Canyon magnet on the front of your refrigerator anymore because it’s been there for so many years.

Ken took measurements, looked over the wine refrigerator, checked the inside temperature, and asked me what I thought. It looked good to me, so I nodded. Ken and Jim started talking numbers and I left the garage, following Tulia and her menagerie down the driveway toward our car. Tulia didn’t walk, so much as float. Everything about her was light and airy, like a feather riding the wind. She was petting the bird and I could hear her talking to it almost in a whisper.

The men carried the refrigerator out to Ken’s electric blue Lexus sport wagon. I had lifted the tailgate and stepped to the side where Tulia was. As they began loading, the goat jumped up onto the hood of the car, startling everyone but Tulia. We all looked at her to do something about her goat’s transgression.

“He thinks cars are his territory,” was all she said. No apologetic tone, no reprimand to the goat, no attempt to correct his behavior in any way. It was obvious she saw nothing wrong with the situation and felt no obligation to do anything about it. As Ken and I stood dumbfounded, we looked to Jim for assistance. It was, after all, his yard, his territory. But he was silent on the issue, ignoring it like the Grand Canyon magnet.

Meanwhile, the goat moved from the hood of the car, up to the roof, his little hooves crinkling the metal with each step, and then he just stood there like king of the mountain.

We were flabbergasted – speechless – unable to find words to fit this odd situation, so we took Jim’s lead and acted like it wasn’t happening, hoping the car would not be damaged.

The refrigerator got loaded and the goat jumped down when he was good and ready. Ken and I said our goodbyes as we stole glances at the car, looking for dents and cracks in the paint. Luckily, we saw none. It was as if the goat had never been there.

A little ways down the road, Ken and I looked at each other and broke out laughing.

“Did that just happen?!” I asked.

“That was the weirdest thing.” Ken agreed.

I turned around to take one last look out the back window and saw Tulia standing in the middle of her street, facing our direction. She was gently petting the blue jay, the goat by her side.

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8 thoughts on “Tulia

  1. Entertaining story well told. You captured a mystic feel. Love the ignoring the magnet comparison – a great choice. (Goats really do that – they have to climb on top for some reason) You establish Tulia pretty well in that garage paragraph….with all the little events/details before and after.
    Love the last paragraph. (and the repetition of the girl, bird and goat.)
    Gold star for this one

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    1. I know! You can’t make this stuff up. I often think of Tulia and wonder about her still. I guess interesting people “stick” with us for a reason… Thanks for your kind words, and for the smiley face!

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    1. Thank you. She was like a mini Dr. Dolittle! Tulia (and what a great name!) was a unique individual. She left all of us speechless. She’s probably 15-16 years old now. I often wonder how she’s doing.

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