I refuse to let fear get in the way of being a sanctuary.
Roadside Fires Burning
The ongoing narrative of life on the road, examining wanderlust and the metaphysical home, with a lot of kicking up dust in between.
I’ve been struggling to find meaning and positivity these past few months. Everything has been tinted with heartbreak, anger, resentment. I try to remember compassion, and it is only with daily meditation that I can break from the negative feelings. It has, however, manifested in efforts to support my own community, to hold compassion in a general sense for the environment and my neighbors. On Sunday, we saw the fruit of our organizing efforts as our Writers Resist event here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was beyond capacity. There was standing room only, then no room at all, and crowds buzzed outside or went in the side door to give donations. We raised so much money for New Energy Economy and Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families that to state the numbers would be bragging. I talked briefly with an old mentor, Greg Glazner, a wonderful writer and kind heart who was always my cheerleader in college, who supported me as a writer and a person, and just a few sentences with him brought me to my sanity.
I’ve been home for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to write about our trip, but haven’t been able to focus on what happened. We rode into Antelope Wells, New Mexico (which was really just a border crossing), and were picked up by Taylor’s boyfriend, who was coming down to pick her up anyway so they could start on their motorcycle trip back to Philadelphia. Meghan and I were dropped off in Las Cruces, where we hung out in a hotel, walked to Walmart and met up with Evan, and went to Applebee’s to cash in a gift certificate she’d been holding onto. In the hotel room, Meghan and I lay in our respective beds and talked about how it all felt like a dream from which we were now waking up. Not one of those real dreams that shudder us, take us out of our comfort of knowing real from imaginary and take a moment to realize that no, we did not murder a vampire and win a million dollars, but rather one of those distinctly fabricated dreams that display all of our hopes and fears and we wake up feeling more whole and yet torn apart, and completely separated from what took place in our sleepspace.
Today is our second rest day! We pushed through the Great Basin in two days, and road 80 miles from Wamsutter, Wyoming to Slater, Colorado, keeping our eyes on the prize of the wonderful cyclist oasis that is the Brush Mountain Lodge.
Please excuse typos of all sorts, im writing this from my phone with crappie Internet coverage.
There’s something about wind that makes me anxious. A good storm is one thing, but wind, even (or especially) without rain gets my pores opened and pupils dilated, and my thoughts are whirled around in the chaos.
This week we’ve been camping at the Black Canyon Campground in Santa Fe National Forest. There is a bathroom right next to our campsite and just past that, a hiking trail. I wake up in the morning at 7:15, feed the dog and use the facilities. Go back to bed for another 20 minutes. Evan makes coffee, I let the dog out, and then head out on a hike with the family. It’s a lollipop trail that takes about 45 minutes and is pretty hilly, and by the time we are done, I have enough of an appetite for breakfast: almond buttered toast, protein shake, or maybe some fried polenta and vegan sausage if I have a big training ride ahead of me.
We spent our first night in California at Pilot Knob, a BLM site just over the border from Arizona, outside Yuma. It was a vacant, dusty field, and we just pulled in far enough that we could have some mild privacy without getting ourselves stuck in the sand that got more loose the deeper we drove into the abyss. There was some black mass to the east, a burned out camper, and a lone RV parked the north, tucked way in the back of the field. There was some other debris spread about, between the black mass and the singular RV. Time passed as it does, I took some photos and did some work while Evan disappeared to explore. After a while, I got worried when he didn’t answer my phone calls or shouts into the empty space. I put on hiking boots and grabbled my knife and headed out into the settling darkness. He was just on his way back from the black mass, and took me over to see it.
In the desert, my eyes are tricked in their search for familiar. I see creatures everywhere: the tall saguaro cacti are tall, thin men looming on hilltops, staring down at me; prickly pear fallen from the barrel cactus before ripe is a gila monster sleeping trailside, soaking in the hot sun of this record February; driftwood becomes pronghorn, javelina, or some other, otherworldly creature.
Maybe I’ve been avoiding writing about Santa Fe. I used to write poems for the City Different, for the people there, and the smells, mountains, the sky that swirls constantly into its folds like blueberries into batter.