I'm back to where I started today, sitting outside my room at The Desert Lily facing east, except now rather than watching the sun slowly rise in a left-to-right arc across the sky, I'm gazing at the shadows cast by its setting behind me.
Bob is gone now but I'm not alone: I've just met a young neighbor named Jimmy who sauntered around back like he lived here, and a young boy named Timmy who's staying at the B'iltmore, another house on the property.
I spent most of today loving people. From the sideburned, pompadored guy at the Crossroads Cafe who told me where to get wireless to Orv, the enthusiastic California Welcome Center greeter, everyone has been so nice and helpful and friendly and interested and interesting. The checkout woman at Wal-Mart called me "sweetie" and "honey" and told me to have a good day and meant it.
Still, I got a little tired of civilization.
I took a drive up Pioneertown Road, past Pappy & Harriet's into the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, on the other side of the Twentynine Palms Highway. I stopped to snap a photo of the rocky, green-dotted terrain and a truck drove up behind me and kindly waited for me to finish. After that, I didn't really see anybody else.
The Preserve has been ravaged by wildfires, something I hadn't seen since last September's trip through Julian into Anza-Borrego. I couldn't even get all the way to the preserve headquarters because the road leading to Pipes Creek was closed. Even the rocks look burned.
As dead as the joshua trees all around me were, charred and split down the middle, falling over and twisted, seeing them made me feel more alive than I had since I arrived the night before.
Could I be a wilderness girl?
I suppose so, as long as I have a car with air conditioning.
I had no desire for my usual comforts today. I apathetically strolled down the snack aisle at the grocery store and didn't feel tempted by any cheese curl. I went to the movies and didn't get popcorn. I resisted the cookies in the kitchen and ate grapes for dinner. Instead, I feel comforted by the intensifying vibrato of crickets, and the moving image of the road passing underneath me in my head.
I'll go to bed early again tonight and hope to wake up again around 6 a.m. to watch the sun rise. Out here, it seems to be enough reason to get up at all, something I struggle with every day back home.