We wake up at six AM and visit the privy one by one. Hadley reveals that they use empty oatmeal packets as toilet paper, and have you ever heard anything more brilliant than that? I honestly think I have not.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I pledge by body to the Anza Borrego desert as penance. I might lose a toenail and my hips ache and I am deliriously happy as the sun spreads golden yellows and pinks across the ridge. I am in love, so so in love and what I am in love with is myself and the life that I am building. I’ve never felt like this before, always needed someone to attach the euphoria of being alive to. It’s incredible.
I hike and I ache and it’s ok. We climb between sandy rock spires, up and up and then we are at the top of inspiration peak overlooking everything at once. We crawl down between the boulders and through endless weaving sand and the terrain changes to wide open space, a field of scrubby ground plants to pick our way through until we get to town.
By the time we hit the road to Borrego Springs I feel like both a pile of scrambled eggs and a sponge in the microwave. Kara, Callie, Pilar, Kelly and I agree that a six mile road walk in the heat doesn’t seem ideal so we walk and try to hitch, walk and try to hitch. Our thumbs are stuck out for hours before we get picked up and when we do it’s in the last two miles by a guy named Dave. It’s Dave’s birthday! We love Dave.
In Borrego Springs I eat a giant plate of rice and beans and guacamole and fajita vegetables and then I am spent completely, dazed. Callie orders a plate of chips and cheese and the cheese is neither melted nor queso – just a pile of cold shreds tossed on top of great greasy handfuls of chip.
We go to the dive bar and we drink margaritas. I never drink, but I do this time and it’s fun and wild and free and my toenail is just a memory, my hips no longer ache. Hours later we hike out of town, position ourselves just at the bottom of tomorrow’s 4000 foot climb.
On our walk, I find out that Raine knew she was queer when she started taking gender studies classes at university and learned that it’s, like, totally okay if you have fucked men and will fuck men again. Liza knew she was queer when she joined a co-ed softball team at age 8 and became completely entranced by the cup she had to wear as a part of the guidelines for the catcher’s uniform.
I fall asleep to Liza and Raine and Kelly and Audrey identifying the stars. They are laughing and then quiet whispering and saying such nice things to one another, and I settle in to lightly ease dropping, entranced by the human experience.
I love people. Not all people, but the ones I choose to surround myself with for sure.
📍 This section of the SDTCT is on unceded Kumeyaay, Cocopah and Cahuilla land. My writing is a part of a fundraiser for Border Angels, a humanitarian aid group based out of these beautiful borderlands. My next entry will not go up until the fundraiser meets $1500, so please consider donating if you like the work and have the means.