in the desert
Getting to the desert was like a backwards game of Twister, untangling ourselves from work, homestead responsibilities, the comfort of warm beds and stocked fridges. There’s always that feeling, zooming away from home, car crammed with stuff, that we’ve forgotten something vital. That our busy adult lives could fall apart without us there to prop them up, like yanking the mannequin from the clothes.
And that is when I know we’re doing the exact right thing.
When you ask Col and Rose what they did on our desert trip, they reply, we played in the sand. Precisely. The older kids cartwheeled and somersaulted in the sandy wash, while the three-year old simply flopped down on his belly and swam. They conducted sand-digging contests, transported sand from one place to another via shirts, buried each other. It was as if sand were a new medium, and they the scientists charged with understanding its every nuance.
And me? I read these two books, rambled around the slickrock, managed my 1900’s-era diet via cooler and campstove, brought and ignored work, enjoyed old friends and our new bonds through parenthood, prayed to the god of corneal eye protection (on account of all the flung sand), provided lap space for children around morning and evening campfires, and objectified my husband as he chopped wood with breathtaking form.
I’m programmed to search for life’s meaning the same way I search for my glasses in the morning: patting down my bedside table vigorously and with hope. This is both a strength and a weakness. I look back at Rose’s courage to ford the spiny tumbleweed river; Col’s astonished “wow,” when he crawled from our tent and saw the night tapestry of stars. Is that it? Is that why we came? Was it to give the kids three days where every sandy, rocky, sagebrush treasure belongs to all and yet to no one? Was it enough to hear the wingbeats of ravens paddling the emptiest sky? Or to simply be where the differentness of desert slows time like a long exhale bookended by regular life?
Really, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s all that and also having said yes, lets go, the echo of that yes reverberating for a long time forward.