July 10, 2009

A Calculated Month

I'm leaving Joshua Tree in less than two days. I'm starting to feel guilty for everything.

Should I not bother making friends now, at the last minute? Is it fair to bond and then leave them behind, as I left my New York friends? At least they knew I'd return.

Should I let the barista with the icy blue eyes charge me $3.00 for a $3.15 mocha and stop me from tipping?

Should I have spent more time at The Desert Lily, home of my artist residency, to let its rolling hills and fearless wildlife inspire me more? Are sunrise and sunset every day enough?

Should I have spent more time in Joshua Tree itself - either the park or the town - rather than gallavanting off to Yucca Valley for coffee every day or to Palm Springs for slushy cocktails and pooltime and bacon flights and Indian canyons and abandoned buildings?

Should I have planned to stay longer?

I have to believe that I came at the right time and I'm leaving at the right time, and that in one month I've lived more here than most of its residents live in a year, or perhaps even a lifetime. For me, a month is both a very long time and a very short time. What can I really come out of a month with? A lot of ideas, a lot of experiences, and maybe a couple visible changes, but I don't think any of us will really know what this trip leads to until after it happens. The story is still writing itself.

Because I thrive on lists and I too am a little obsessive-compulsive (something I should direct towards my dirty forks now and then), here's a little inventory of what I have gotten out of my three and a half weeks in the desert:

12 1/2 days alone
2 days at the pool
24 sunrises (I slept through one)
25 sunsets
1 full moon
2 night terrors
1 hour of light rain
1 lightning storm in 1 cloud
1 drama that was not my own
0 job interviews (besides that Minneapolis phoner...)
0 published stories
0 auditions
0 dates
1/6 date shake
1 size smaller
4 shades darker
1 missing hubcap
1 skinned knee
1 ruined pair of yoga pants
1 melted deodorant
1 broken toenail
2 pedicures
2 manicures
1 root touch-up
3 bottles of wine
5 live bands
6 movies
1/2 each of 2 books
1 baseball game
1 celebrity sighting
4 visits to Pizza Hut
4 ghost towns (not counting those surrounding The Salton Sea)
2 dry lakes
2 national parks (and 1 national forest)
3 state parks
21 hikes/nature walks (I think, so far)
21 1/2 hours watering plants (I think, so far)
15 miles per hour over the speed limit driven, on average
3490 miles clocked in on the odometer
110 degrees in the shade

And countless bunnies, lizards, flies, crickets, chipmunks, ground squirrels, quails, roadrunners, and coyote howls as well as windmills, gas pumps, cups of coffee, drinks of water, and stars in the sky.

Most importantly, no matter what my goals were or what goals I should or should not have had.....0 regrets.

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