Monday, June 20, 2016

death valley at 28

All I want to do is wake up in the desert on my birthday, I thought. And it was the oddest thing to think, because I don't even like the desert that much. If I were to rate landscapes based on how beautiful I found them to be, the desert would most certainly come in last.
And yet... I couldn't get the longing out of my head. So, I booked a hotel room (I am many things but a solo-camper I certainly am not), got my oil changed, packed a change of clothes and some groceries... and drove out to Death Valley around noon on May 28th.
I'm not not a birthday person. I do enjoy celebrating with close friends and, if I'm lucky, family. (I did, later). But this year I sought to be grounded, connected, gloriously free—all at once. I needed to lighten the heaviness of certain memories and current events.
After checking in, I ventured to Artists Palette; then Dante's View for sunset over Badwater Basin. And just as the desert became completely blanketed by stars, I arrived back at the hotel. I bought a beer and pulled a rocking chair out into the darkness to gaze.
The next morning, after accidentally waking up early, I watched the sun rise with Letters to a Young Poet, and ~20 photographers.
There aren't words to describe how spectacular an experience, nor how special it felt to be a part of it. Feliz cumpleaños, indeed. 
I went on to meditatively walk the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes before heading back to the hotel for avocado toast and coffee. And that was that! Almost. I also stopped for a hike through Mosaic Canyon and drove up to Aguereberry Point on my way out of the park.
Twenty-eight sounds old to me—not in a "ugh, I'm so old!" kind of way (how obnoxious), but in a "wow, I've lived a bit, huh?" way. And waking up in the desert at 28 was perfect. The wide open space and relentless dry heat and pristine towering peaks above the below-sea-level basin were everything I'd been craving. It instilled the most serene awareness of my minuscule, and all the while, worthy existence. Needless to say, the desert landscape might be growing on me...

Monday, June 6, 2016

all-american, currently

Occasionally, I have a terrifying thought: I'm going to live in the U.S. for the rest of my gosh darn life. Terrifying, yes; silly, also yes. For as critical as I can be about this country (and its politics), places like Columbus remind me why I also admire its becoming.
Quite a few weekends ago, I ventured to Columbus, OH for work... and it was lovely. Showcasing a medley of American architecture, signage from other eras, and neighborhoods named for the immigrants that first populated them, the city beckoned a reminder of the drudgery, hope, and economic/social woes that have so defined this country. It was impressively charming and sincere in that way.
{Airbnb in Olde Towne East}
{The Ohio State University}
{Italian Village}
{Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens}
The people I met there were, too. Following the event, I took a seat next to a solo diner at a Short North bar. He'd lived in Columbus for almost two decades and spoke to the evolution of the city. He'd also recently bought a house, and was thereby pretty set on staying. It was then, as we exchanged local and faraway stories, that I had a scarier thought: how nice it sounded to settle down in the world without settling. I found myself in a similar vein of consciousness this past weekend in Charleston. Photos on that trip to come...