I’ve felt sick for a week now. This morning, I make peanut butter and jelly toast and I gag while I spread the peanut butter across the bread, walk toward the toilet to heave but before I get there, I stop so I turn around. I’ve been vibrating on this nauseous anxious frequency, and the closer we get to our trip the tighter the knots in my stomach cinch. I am excited and I am scared and as far as my stomach is concerned, those are pretty much the same thing.
I kiss the dogs and all three of them look freaked out because I am definitely acting clingy. Their little dog bodies are the single hardest thing about walking in places I do not know, indefinitely, and I try to memorize their smells as shapes for my mind to latch onto. Quito is a fresh plumpkin from the plumpkin patch, moist eyes lazily blinking. Kinnickinnick is a long and grumpy rocket, stretching out her stiff bones to zoom just once or twice before once again finding her bed. Mabel is my tightly wound dusty rose, her tortilla chip ears tucking back when she walks, zigging and zagging her leash violently this way and that. I love you, I love you, I love you I say. They all move away, slowly.
Emma picks Carrot and I up in her 1990 Suburu, with Fem4Femm on the license plates. She drives us to a Mediterranean place in Phoenix, a combo restaurant and grocery store where we get big piles of fava beans, rice, baba gahnough, garlicy iceberg lettuce salads and sides of pickles. We eat until we’re a little bit too full and I try to soak Emma up, too. We’re walking along the Mogollon Rim, 500 miles around the crust of the Colorado plateau in the largest stretch of Ponderosa Forest in the world. Only two other people have thru hiked this route in it’s entirety. We’ll hit six tiny Arizona towns, and I am pretty sure this is our last little bit of queer culture for five weeks or so.
We make up possible personalized plates (femmegem, gay4gay, fist in) and Emma tells us how she’s considering buying a Uhaul, so all the dykes we know can borrow it when they move in together and then again when they break up.
We arrive at Parson’s trailhead just before dark. There are TREES, actual green things with leaves that definitely don’t exist just three hours away in Tucson. The sun is setting, melting yellow over red rock and we pitch our tent at the trailhead, finding pebbles amongst the sand to secure our stakes.
Tomorrow we ford a river, first thing. Tonight, I fall asleep next to Carrot, the sound of rushing water lulling me away.
Should be fun I mumble to myself as I drift off. Should be fun.