>I spent the coldest summer of my life in Mongolia. I’m still haunted by it. In winter, I curl up in my blankets and memories of shivering in my jacket, in a sleeping bag, rise to my tongue. Of smoke filled gers weakly lit by the blue light that clings to the sky after the sun had set.
I remember Hishge.
I met Hishge in UB, but she was from the countryside. Her heart was nomadic.
We were in the water logged fields of Arkhangai, where walking across the ground was like walking across a floating bridge with matted grass being the only thing keeping you from the mud. The ground moved like a sheet as you stepped. We were visiting a family. They had us in their home, and fed us aerig, talking to me in my broken Mongolian, with the help of a girl whose name meant boy, who spoke Japanese, but no English.
Outside a stallion was being kept separate from the other horses. He was jumping and running, making noises like a watch dog tied to a chain. The horse was tied to a line. He broke it and began to run.
Without pause, Hishge dropped her bowl of aerig. She was a line of green, an unnatural emerald streak in her del. Another horse was standing around nearby and she yelled at it as she ran. It began to move forward. Like watching a messenger taking a moving start as they climbed on their bike, she mounted the moving horse. There was the grace of a gymnast being a vault routine. An aerialist climbing up their silks. I watched as she chased down the stallion and herded him back to the home of these strangers. The girl named boy cleaned up the spilled drink.
I’ll never forget the sight of Hishge running alongstride a horse and climbing on it with a familiarity I dream of having with anything. It remains the most beautiful thing I have seen a person do. She lived in the city and she was studying psychology. She was the eldest child. She was doing what she had to for her family. But watching her, I finally understood that there are things some people are meant to do.