About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Longing . . . . Yearning . . . .

I have a deeper, brighter line of demarcation in my life than most, or maybe it simply seems that way to me because I have a starring role in the drama. Nearly everything about me can be categorized as "before" or "after", for everything truly changed that much.

"Before" was childhood and youth, a long marriage, finally a child, the long career, my work life ending when I was 46, because I could do that. I thought I had the future planned quite well. OK, so the marriage wasn't sparkly and I didn't know what to do with myself if I was no longer defined by that career, but I decided I could hang in for a lifetime despite all that. The child was a nice reward to stay for. Ex already had squatters' rights in our home because he'd stopped working before I did. We were trapped in our home together all day, every day unless we looked for a purpose to get out somewhere. It took about four years for those walls to reach their maximum capacity, barely containing emotions building and unresolved for 30 years.

"After" is not yet fully defined, as I am still living this life. It's a work not yet completed. "After" has contained some of the highest highs and the lowest lows I will ever know. I'll keep you posted, interested reader.

"After" has included a man I knew from "before", but didn't know for 30 years. Our process of becoming reacquainted included, of course, the telling of the things we loved or disliked, the interests that caught our attention, the things we now knew how to do. "Do you remember the disco era?" We both hated that! "I converted to Judaism. My daughter was bat mitzvahed and worked in Israel." Wow! I came to "after" very well-traveled in Europe, Mexico, Egypt and on the world's cold and warm oceans. I could rightly be called an ocean person. He spoke compellingly of his love of the desert - photographing it, camping primitively in it. I knew nothing of the desert and was, in fact, just a little afraid of it. I'd driven through it all my life to one destination or another. It was pretty dull. Brown, hot, huge. But I was interested in him and if he was interested in the desert, then I'd check it out. "So, will you teach me about it and show me what you love?"

I have many wonderful desert adventures to share and beautiful photographs to punch up the stories. I will begin to share those soon, but this post is meant to be more general in nature. On the first camping trip, he uttered not one disapproving word about my four duffels and backpacks teeming with way too many, completely inappropriate clothes for desert camping. He didn't raise his eyebrows over my bringing shampoo and conditioner and hair wax. At least I didn't bring the blow dryer. Although friend Janne had taken me to Big Five to get boots, they weren't quite right either. But I didn't know that for a long time, because he was not critical.

When we rose up out of the deep gorge from our hike on an early outing, the wind was screaming. He was in the lead. He reached the top of the trail, where one's head pops above ground level like a gopher peeping out of its hole. "Oh, my god, our tent has blown away!" Well, he's known for his sense of humor and ironic wit. I know when he's funning me. "Ha! You can't fool this city girl!" It had. Despite being anchored by my four bags and his meager duffel full of necessities, that purple dome tent had had its stakes torn from the ground and had rolled seemingly half way across the Mojave.

It took just the one time to snare me. Emerging from the car into the dark, starlit night as we arrived, I said something I've never failed to repeat on any desert trip: "Listen to the quiet!" I learned to love the hiss of the lanterns. I reveled in the conversation and laughter and a shared cocktail in the campsite before ending our day in the tent, sometimes freezing and sometimes roasting, but always preferring to be right there, rather than anywhere else. During the months that are acceptable for camping in the Mojave - about October through May - we went out a couple of weekends per month. For years. Although we celebrate winter solstice rather than "Christmas", we have enjoyed our holiday dinner "out there" more than once. I could rightly be called a desert person.

Fast forward: nothing remains the same forever. Other interests take priority. Work schedules must be considered. One has to decide what one will spend free time doing. Cycling races took over the number one spot. If you care about someone, you support their endeavors and I have been willing to sacrifice some camping opportunities for some cycling races. The odd, rare campout has been enjoyed from time to time.

But now it's truly and officially fall. The last cycling race is in sight. I read something on his blog that said, while he has had such a racing season he can hardly believe it, he aches to be out in the starlight. I wish he'd said "eager" or "anticipate". "Ache" rather tore me up. I sent an e-mail to concur that it is time to camp. I used words like "longing" and "yearning". They are my truth. I named places like Paiute Gorge and Cow Cove. He came back with "Ibex Dunes". For I need to wake up to the sound of the coyotes and drink the good coffee dripped through the Melitta filter. I pine for the long hike in the sun, whether I am bundled up in a parka or wearing as little as possible. I am starved for the little treasures one locates on the desert floor - from shiny rocks to live little lizards, old mining tools . . . it doesn't matter the details. It's all good. I desire to scramble up the rock pile and find still more, previously undetected petroglyphs and pictographs.

I've had a difficult change of season from summer to fall this year. I almost thought I had some version of Seasonal Affective Disorder as I've been quiet, "down", moony. I don't sleep and I can't write and I can't "get right". I spy the "Not Available to Work" calendar on the wall in the office, and Limes' name appears nowhere.

Yesterday I read a comment on a blog I follow. I immediately confess that these are not my own words, but they struck me in my heart and gut. She wrote: "I long for something I cannot even name." My eyes filled with tears. I long, too. And soon we shall go camping.

All photo credits: J. D. Morehouse

In my ears right now: Bob Seger - Against the Wind. The lunatic wind right now is sucking my office steel and glass double doors open and shut, open and shut. A gust was clocked at 72 mph in Red Rock last night. The Badger is riding up in it now, though it's calmer than it was in the night. Virginia Woolf and I trembled in our bed as the wind screamed. Dylan is too aloof to care about such things.

Something that charmed me: On that first camping trip a comment was shared. "I love my little camping table and my lantern." I grew to love them, too.


  1. I thank you, Tree. You spotted the comment I stole from your follower yesterday, I am sure. I feel my head coming out of the clouds. I feel my feet touching the ground. I have not camped yet, but I know what it is I'm longing for. And I'll get there!

  2. I did. Likewise, I had a similar experience yesterday watching elementary kids swing from their swings during recess yesterday--a longing I couldn't quite name or define, but sharp and cutting all the same.

  3. And btw, the b/w pic in this post is your best yet!

  4. Yearning feels to me like a pull. I'm not always immediately sure what I'm being pulled toward, though. It takes some reflection time to identify exactly what seems missing. I have learned to pay attention when my soul goes longing.

    Thank you re: the pic! He does have wonderful talent and the most remarkable camera. There are a few from that day. I must say I rarely enjoy looking at myself in a photo, but I can live with those b/w ones.

  5. I yearned for the ocean, for nothing on the horizon, for the pitch and roll of the ship. deserts were something to get through, not to stop and enjoy. Today I long for the desert, to learn of the little treasures. Thanks Limes

  6. Hi, Tag ~ glad you hopped on the bus today! Your journey sounds a little like mine - ocean first. Staye tuned - I promise to share the wonderful secrets I've learned about that stark, beautiful place I love. There are comedic tales and scary ones and some just quirky and interesting. The desert is a privilege to know.

  7. Never been to the desert. Have seen THE MISFITS, which I realize is not quite the same thing.

  8. Ha, Kirk! You just made me laugh out loud. You're right on. The Misfits is NOT the desert, in the way that I speak of it. I'm a huge Marilyn fan, however! Stay tuned - I will weave true stories of the most wonderful environment I know. With other subjects tossed in for variety.