July 29, 2012

An Invitation to Return

I don't often go back to the same place. If given the choice of settling into my favorite restaurant or trying someplace new, I'm far more likely to go where I have never been and order the special, which may never be on the menu again.

But this summer, three years after I spent a month in Joshua Tree, Carrie invited me back to The Desert Lily for a few weeks.

Conveniently, once again I am not working full-time. I have a lot of writing and transcribing to do, making the timing perfect.

Even more conveniently, I now have my own car instead of a rental, and instead of flying out, I can just drive.

And I can drive back to LA if I have to.

So here I am, back at The Desert Lily in Joshua Tree, retracing my old steps, trying to remember the back way up the dirt roads to Star Lane without losing a hubcap.

There's some new landscaping to explore, and a new irrigation system will take care of watering the plants for me, but I remember where Carrie keeps the dishes and towels. I remember distant canine moans mixed with quail cackles and the metal rattle of wind sculptures. The red ocotillo trembles in the late day breeze, which at 90 degrees, feels cool.

My feet walk bare across the patio, sun-bleached and sand-smoothed. I wait for the bunnies to arrive in the shadow of the adobe, but the fountain from which they once drank is gone.

I want to sleep outside, but I remember the coyotes and scorpions and think better of it.

My backyard is the Park, my neighbors the desert mountains.

All of this is familiar and comforting, yet still strange and wild, as much now compared to my life in LA as back then three years ago, as compared to my life in New York City.

But as much as Joshua Tree and The Desert Lily are more or less the same, I'm a little different now.

I've vowed to hike the park more, now 30+ pounds lighter than I was back then.

I know it's going to be hot. I know to get up early. But I'm not as in crisis as I was back then.

I'm not running towards or away from anything.

I'm merely accepting an invitation to return.

And just for a change, I'll be sleeping in the one guest room in which I have not yet stayed.

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