I woke up in Joshua Tree this morning and watched the sun rise over my first camp as a nomad. (It was SUCCESSFUL in that I accomplished setting up a tent and spending a full night inside it. It was THOROUGHLY STUPID in that two young van dwellers parked next to me late at night and proceeded to open and slam doors for hours, seemingly at random, but suspiciously coinciding with THE EXACT MOMENT I FINALLY DRIFTED OFF, which I assume was some elaborate scheme to demonstrate that van dwellers are terrible, horrible, irredeemably bad people on whom I shouldn’t waste an ounce of envy EVEN IF they have sick shelving and dope drawer space. Pretty sure that’s how pronoia works.)
As the sky brightened, I had the distinct feeling time was both speeding past and standing still. It felt like only a moment ago the idea had occurred to me, Maybe after I move out, I’ll camp for a night or two in Joshua Tree, but somehow entire weeks had passed since then. Important weeks, too. I’d quit my job, packed up my apartment, said my goodbyes, and started my journey. How did so much happen in such a blink?
Pinks turned to white on the horizon, and blistering desert heat crept in. Even as the hour evaporated, I felt the memory sneak into the forever part of my brain, the place where that other hour on the beach in Durban lives, with its sand drawings and hand holdings; or the morning in the farmhouse when friends rustled through the kitchen in that pre-breakfast hush; or the first time our knees touched under the bar and the softness of his lips when his hand pulled my face to his.
Some moments stretch for eternity while entire months barely exist. (Can anyone tell me what happened in April? Did I leave my home at all? Was I even a person?)
I’ve created more forever moments—more remarkable and rare and true moments—in the past few weeks than I did in the entire year proceeding them. I don’t know if it will always be like this, or if the novelty will become normalcy, but for now, I’m luxuriating in the way each day stretches miles longer than any day in a routine ever did.
I felt so granola waking up in that tent. Now I’m feeling bougie at this hostel full of hikers covered in mud and stench and scraggly mole hairs right on their cheeks because they honestly Do Not Give a Fuck what you think about their appearance. (Don’t worry, I found a nice almond milk latte, air conditioning, and wifi, so I’m okay.) A simple change in location shifted perspective enough to create the feeling of a lifetime in a matter of hours.
Even if I fall flat on my face, I’ll be glad to have done this. At the very least, I’m changing the shape of me, collecting a pocketful of memories I can pore over for years to come, and warping time for however long this lasts. I hope it lasts.