I’ve gone feral. It turns out all sorts of domesticated animals can become feral again, maybe humans too.
I’m now past the half-way point for this trip and the meticulous grooming is abandoned. I show up at restaurants looking so disheveled I wonder if I might be denied service at some point.
I’m living in my bathing suit (yes, even in the desert) and a rotation of semi-clean shirts and shorts. Despite my best efforts, my feet are always dusty. The unforgiving New Mexico sun dictates wearing a hat at all times so my hair is always matted to my head. I don’t give much thought to outfits. I packed no makeup. I even forgot a mirror.
It’s a good life.
I wouldn’t want it full-time, I like being more polished. For awhile, it’s a relief to be in an environment where there are no expectations about how I look. If there are, I am paying them no mind.
On the days that require a lot of physical labor (setting up, driving, breaking down) or the solitude becomes loneliness, I wonder why I do this. It may be a futile question, I still have little idea why I do most of what I do.
Maybe it’s a cancer victory lap, although that seems a bit premature. Both of my long road trips came on the heels of fending off a diagnosis. The perfect punctuation to the news no one wants to hear. An equal and opposite reaction.
The long tail of a cancer diagnosis is the upending of the self. I’ve come to understand the anchors that held me in place aren’t fixed, they are constructs that can be dismantled and reassembled. It’s both good news and bad.
What is this life, and who am I to it?
I am untethered and so, I camp. The consummate city girl takes a leap into the fine points of cooking in the wind, selecting good gear, and applying my newfound skill of being physically uncomfortable to something decidedly more fun.
If the point of this trip is beauty, mission accomplished. I am in awe of New Mexico. It’s a wild place with something remarkable around every corner. A photographer’s dream.
The Aspens in Santa Fe, the stars over the Rio Grande. The exact landscape that inspired Georgia O'Keefe is fueling me now.
One can not be an American by going about saying that one is an American. It is necessary to feel America, like America, love America and then work.
I’m here to do the work.