Rocky by Adrienne Rozells
As a child, I loved the Gem and Mineral Society. They have a building at Balboa Park in San Diego. It’s got the same adobe design as the rest of our desert city, rough beige walls that I love to run my fingers along, and red-brown shingles layered on top. My mom used to take me there on the weekends, along with my best friend Javan. He and I would zip around inspecting rocks and gemstones, and then head to the dark room where they keep all of the rocks that glow under ultraviolet light. Their neon reminded me of aliens, and the black lights that brought out their color made my white socks glow bright, like Javan’s smiling teeth.
The man who had collected most of these glow-in-the-dark rocks was, to our unending delight, called Rocky. He was very good at explaining the collection to us, and he had a crush on my mom like the crush of stone beaten down to sand.
Every time we came in, Rocky smiled like he was cracking open. And before we left he would crack open a geode just for me. Geodes are hollow, semi-spherical rocks, with masses of minerals hidden inside. They most often form from air bubbles as magma cools from hot, to warm, to a steady tangible form, the same way love can do. The only way to know if a rock is a geode is to open it up. On the outside it’s always just a rock.
Rocky would present me with a wooden box full of rough gray stones. I would sift through them, staring, trying to divine their insides. He would take my choice, offer me safety goggles, then don his own before picking up the hammer. Sometimes I got lucky, sometimes I didn’t. It didn’t particularly matter to me what we found inside. My mom taught me early in life that just a rock can be enough. Just a rock can be beautiful and just a rock is still filled with stories that might take years to uncover. You don’t even have to crack them open to wonder about them.
Sometimes people are enough as they are on the surface too. You can’t just go around hitting hearts and heads like rocks. And sometimes, we don’t have the energy to excavate, or to be excavated.
My mom never did go out with Rocky. We still keep half of a geode he opened on a shelf in our living room, showing off its shiny insides.
Adrienne Rozells currently teaches writing to kids in Cleveland, OH and works as co-EIC at Catchwater Magazine. Her favorite things include strawberries, her dogs, and extrapolating wildly about the existence of Bigfoot. More of her work can be found on Twitter @arozells or Instagram @rozellswrites.