It’s been a frantic month or so caught between the valleys and ridges of the Elk Mountains.
I’ve come to love the chaos of a vertical world. The sky stained with ink, the endless blue fields and shadows. There are glaciers that move in the black, the land shifts into glass and shatters, its jagged edges smoothed and masked in wild flowers mascarading as light.
The snow comes and then, fades.
And then? The desert becons.
I’ve been to the desert once before. While dating the soon to be husband and soul mate, I was working towards my final year of graduate school. In poetry. A masters. From a school proudly dubbed: the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.
The name implies and embodies all that the school is. The image of a James Dean character. White shirt, tight jeans, fast hands, a slow walk, and brilliant blue eyes. Imagine Whiskey wednesdays, nights spent aimlessly wandering the back alleys of a small street in Boulder, mumbling poetic nothings, catching phrases and etching them onto my arms with pens. Imagine the smoking garden, a classroom with no chairs, just a single folding table with one broken leg. Imagine the 48 hour write-a-thon, the sexual tension, the sweat, the incoherent ramblings of 8 poets crammed into a 200 square foot apartment living room who have run out of paper and instead, are carving their words into the walls.
I wrote an essay on quantum physics and tried within it to poet-ize string theory. I drank too much. I ran too far. We drove ourselves for hours, wandered into the dark lit corners of our imaginations, and when those failed us, we scattered into the night, punch drunk and hopeless romantics, searching for a muse in the form of a random stranger caught at the wrong place at the wrong time.
This was my day to day existence. Drunk and scribbling, high on the promise of endless nights bathed in ink and absent murmurs.
My then boyfriend was the exact opposite. Rational and subtle, quiet and yet, determined. He was calculating and powerful in a precise and nearly silent way. He moved through the air without casting a ripple and yet, an eye turned to catch him, recognized him. It was impossible not too.
He was a man of calculated risk and forecasted possibility. I adored him for being everything that I could not. For thinking of our future while I squandered my present in a ceaseless quest for inspiration and language.
And as a man of calculated risk and numbers, we went on a plane to Arizona to a hotel in the desert. A man there offered us chocolate chip cookies as we walked through the courtyard searching for our room.
We were there for a conference, for stock traders. There, he would learn the secrets of their risk, calculate his presence, realize his numbered potential, and we would be set.
By set, he meant rich, he meant endowed with numbers. These frantic images on a screen that I could barely read, charts in neon green and pink, darting through metered windows and scales. Buy or sell? He asked me. Buy or sell?
I lay by the pool and read Cixous and wrote a chapbook while he and the men played with their numbers. I kept my own numbers, running in the morning to a park in the desert and rolling in the sand.
The chapbook is no longer caught between the pages of a threaded journal but is in the process of becoming just that – a chapbook, that is, something in the world beyond my imaginings. In the Desert will be published at some point this summer under the watchful, big brother lens of Monkey Puzzle Press. *end ceaseless promotional*
But now? How a few years can change things. From a hotel in Arizona and the calculations of risk and numbers, to the vast empty skies of Moab to camp for a week under the stars and against the orange rocks.
There is something frantic, something desperate. There is something powerful in these yet to be memories. I will sit in the desert and write.
Why can’t you just be normal, the husband asks in the heat of not packing but rummaging through various boxes and packs.
I imagine the dust and the sand, the heat of it radiating through the shadow. The water will be glass, a sheer, reflective surface masked in light. I will melt into the rock, absorb the ink of the sky and imagine that I am a writer, that I am lost, that I am satisfied.