THE PRICE OF STAMPS

Life at Cielo Vista took on a strong monastic flavor right from the get go. I guess I should insert the caveat that all I know about the community was what I received written in my father’s letters. Sure, there is the information available on their web site, but that’s just self-serving propaganda generated to drum up new recruits. They do make it sound attractive, I’ll give them that; a peaceful agrarian society on the upper slopes of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental where the members practice meditation and discuss a philosophical mishmash of Gurdjieffian neo-gnosticism and some kind of ancient astronaut poopery I thought had long ago gone the way of the the mood ring and drum solos. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to figure out what triggered dad’s transformation from a suburban CPA to a new age goofball with Mercury rising; however, I’ve never been at a loss in understanding why mom divorced him. His once analytical outlook on life, as sturdy as an actuarial table, gave way to a slippery world of ectoplasm and astral bodies. His first letter arrived just as I was starting graduate school. I was pretty busy and didn’t get around to reading it for several days.

“How’s it going, sport! You’d never believe how clean the air is here. It’s like you can see forever. They’ve got me working at the cheese factory. It’s positively rustic. I’ll tell you, milking goats takes a real knack. It took a while, but I’ve got it down solid. There’s a little valley just over the hill with a sacred grove and you can just barely make out the stone foundation of the pre-Columbian temple. The grove is located at one of those points of conjunction between this world and another manifestation, a higher vibration of the cosmic apparatus. Some of the others here can actually see that vibration. I think I’m beginning to pick up on a glimmer now and again. This is all very exciting. I’m, at times, frustrated because, as a neophyte, there seems to be very little I can contribute to the community. I am, however, proud of my financing of the ozone rejuvenation pods. Love to you and your mother.”

Perhaps I should have consulted a lawyer. Maybe track down dad, accompanied by a professional deprogrammer. But, really, he’s a grown man. None of my business. Although, I became a bit more concerned when the second letter arrived.

“A vibratory fold of the seventh manifestation has surrounded this region of the mountains. I wonder, will this letter reach you? The sun never sets. It perches stationary in the sky surrounded by a ring of lavender clouds. Not a day goes by without half a dozen saucers landing or departing. The goats keep getting smaller. They are now no larger than a toothbrush. Soon they’ll be gone altogether…or at least become too small to see without a microscope. Yesterday my roommate, who has the bunk beneath me, revealed himself as one of the great Ascended Masters, but I suspected that from the beginning. It’s been rumored that soon the sun will begin its descent to the eastern horizon and those who don’t make it into the caves further up the mountain before nightfall will be left behind on this, the third manifestation.”

It sounded so ominous. Portentous. Like some sort of eschatological suicide cult. I shrugged it off. Just a pathetic cry for help. Screw him. I had my own life to live.

A year later my cousin Vicki, passing through town, stopped by for a visit.

“What are all these?”

“Those? Nothing. Just some letters from my father. You know, he’s living in some new age commune in Mexico.”

“No he isn’t. I saw him last week. He’s the night manager at the Food King.”

“The fuck you say. But those postmarks. Those stamps….”

“You haven’t even opened these.”

“Yeah, sure I have. Well the first two. I probably should just throw them away.”

“Can I have them?”

“Didn’t know you to be a fan of abnormal psychology. Go ahead. Enjoy.”

Vicki left, and the letters from dad stopped coming. Two months later a letter arrived from Vicki. It was postmarked Cielo Vista in Mexico. I threw it in the trash.

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