Life is an amazing diaspora that continues to unfold. Stories, being lived, can I rein them in? I could write of you. The ephemeral you that says "I love you, I will love you forever," the universal you of desert tortoise kingdoms and cinnamon-tinged coffee, vegan dinners from Native Foods and new hikes on the Bump n' Grind, patching together an old quilt with side trails freshly-excavated. Walking the earth up and down, sky to body to earth, the way it's always been. Joshua tree recognitions, Indian trail discoveries, splintered quartz offerings gleaming their prayerful words, giant desert ironwood forests in a vast, dry wash.
Today: a blustery November in the low desert, sunlight so bright when I look out the window and see color behind brilliant clouds, I can't decipher if the sky is black or blue, and realize it's blue.
I could write of talking with Tarah on the phone, rain in Palm Springs, she's nestled against mountains and her new husband in a one-room apartment, living on discounted cups of noodles with two cats, Ducky and Pepper, and asks me to come over to help her do the dishes. I meant to do NaNoWriMo but I've gotten caught up in trying to save the California Desert. A foolish task, a necessary impulse, I'm meeting amazing, incredible people in my efforts: homeland security! Hey everyone, magic lives out here! Consider that. What do I do with myself, now that I'm merely a background mom? We barely had a few sprinkles just 10 miles farther out into the desert here in Palm Desert. Lots of wind, which I love. And when the rain does fall, it's for moments of prayer, of holding my hands open wide, in a moment of thanks. It's something that longtime desert people tend to do. When it rains after months of going without.
I haven't seen Tarah since my family birthday dinner last Saturday November 13, with mom and dad, freshly back from Italy, and Alex and Tarah and a handful of light presents. I bought myself a sheet cake, I've done it before, and had my name written across the bottom and top, but I insisted on no happy-birthday singing until we left the restaurant. Sammy's wood fired pizza on El Paseo at the Gardens in Palm Desert.
This being 22 stuff is so new. The four year overhaul. Living alone gets more familiar but filled with agitations, restlessness, I'm suspended between lives, and bounce along, wondering what is next, all the while living so fully, on the road from Blythe at the Colorado River to Riverside for writing workshop to Palmdale to give a Puritan reading and lecture, and back, pit stop at College of the Desert for intensive creative writing and freshman composition lectures and workshops, and back home to feed the dogs, wash a few clothes in my disheveled home, sleep, and start again.
I could write about how I picked up a copy of "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, a must-read, at Barnes and Noble at the Palm Desert mall, a place I rarely go except for my friend Patricia's monthly poetry readings or when I have a specific book to buy. How I saw the moon fragment behind pocket-clouds last night, odd browns and lights, not quite clear, and deeply present. How I woke at 4 a.m. to stiff wind, and the clear moon to the west out my bedroom. I sleep in Tarah's old room now, on the new bed I bought early last spring, flattened on the floor, with my high-end road bike parked across the sliding mirrored closet doors, an ironing board full of white cotton shirts to iron, and a drafting table holding various books and copies of various tabloids that I'll soon pass on to my mom. And Mom came over yesterday, bless her heart, to again help me go through my piles of bills. Almost there. Almost caught up. After the financial and emotional summer drought.
What else could I say? Tracing ancient intaglios and geoglyphs in the desert near Blythe. Singing my heart and footprints on the Mastodon Peak Trail in Joshua Tree, photographing along the way and grateful for the October rains that have made things bloom out there: ocotillo suprises, Indian village site down the dry wash (not on the visitor's map), a red glowing bush whose name I don't know...glowing barrel cactus and yellow-leafed cottonwood trees in November drawl against the lowering sun. Time change and I try to adapt. The months of darkness coming early, and I sleep better than before. Music has filled my house the past week, my friend Ben came over and played piano while I played several different flutes and guitar - we had a really fun jam. Hanging out in Riverside at Tio's Taco's with writing workshop friends Lorraine, Peter, Steve- my magic sax man! - and Mike. Driving home again on the familiar through-the-Badlands-route and offering my usual silent prayers for Phil, whose life ended there.
Autumn in the desert revives and renews. Magic footsteps, I could write of this, I try to bring it all into one, and I pray for desert preservation, to remember the deep grooved, storied landscape before it's gone.
And now it's time to broaden into sunshine. Outdoors for light-splash. Remember one of thousands of mother-daughter walks: Tarah in her baby backpack on Fry Mountain. Tarah climbing ahead of me in the Wonderland of rocks. Camping with my girl on a trip through Topock Gorge. The day Tarah decided to stay home instead. "I love you forever," I say to you. I can taste a few persistent raindrops on my mouth-opened tongue, and remember what water felt like not so long ago, and I know I will remain in this for however long it takes to fill.