We woke. Remember the light in that house, the dust. For months I had studied the way clouds over the sun at varying points in the day changed the light, darkened the walls from dusty yellow to a muddied darkness, ominous.
We lay on the floor. Too hot to sleep in the loft, June already. This was still a time that went by slowly, lazily, the coming months stretched wide, like a yawn. But this day in June was a hinge, one of those hinges in life upon which the next ten years pivot.
We lay on the floor and cried, the puppy gnawing on my ankle, all jaw. I can still feel those teeth, searching for relief. The dog lay in his chair, head in paw, and he knew, he knew this was the end.
June in New Orleans: the humidity begins to snake in, the sky begins to go black at the same time in the afternoons. The measure of our days. We lay on the floor and memorized the taste of salt on each others’ skin, eyes closed.
Earlier as the sun rose you found me in a bar. In three hours I would get on a plane, and I wouldn’t come back for years. We stumbled around the quarter, we attempted to unravel what was left of our tangles. This was the end of a year that terrified me, that woke me up, that blew the world wide open.
And think about this, the ways people part. How we undo each other, undo that desire.
“Cyrus was deeply moved and spoke as he had never spoken before. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I’ve studied and maybe learned how things are, but I’m not even close to why they are. And you must not expect to find that people understand what they do. So many things are done instinctively, the way a bee makes honey or a fox dips his paw in a stream to fool dogs. A fox can’t say why he does it, and what bee remembers winter or expects it to come again? When I knew you had to go, I thought to leave the future open so you could dig out your own findings, and then it seemed better if I could protect you with the little I know.’”—John Steinbeck, from East of Eden
I have been feeling all kinds of lost and tiny and unsure and insignificant since returning from my road trip. I still don’t know how to articulate what happened, or what’s to come. All I know is that I rarely read my horoscope—not out of any sort of haughty disbelief, but because I am highly suggestible. But I read this in the coffee shop and sniffled a little, in the “I still don’t know what I’m doing but this sure seems meaningful” sort of way.
It’s time for some image medicine. Wherever you are right now, I invite you to look down at your left palm and imagine that you see the following scene: an infinity sign whose shape is made not by a thin black line but by a series of small yellow rubber duckies. The duckies are flowing along slowly in continuous motion. They are all wearing gold crowns, each of which is studded with three tiny rubies. With resonant tones that belie their diminutive and comic appearance, the duckies are singing you your favorite song [ed. note: this would be “Good Vibrations”]. It makes you feel safe, brave, and at home in the world. What else can you see there? What happens next?
I am home from 14 dusty days, days that took me from mountains that talked to me to train whistles in the night; from swimming in waterfalls to almost dying alongside the Rio Grande. Sleeping in yurts and sleeping in mid-nineteenth century creole cottages. I saw coyotes and rattlesnakes and Marfa Lights. I went home to New Orleans and felt its fingers slip through my skin. Four out of five people cried on this trip for cathartic reasons. Pictures and other fascinating statistics are forthcoming.
Now I am home in San Francisco, slightly sick and kicking dirt. This is all to say, I need a good book to read. I am looking for:
Nothing overly intellectual (I just graduated college after ten years, y’all!)