cactus country


October 6, 2017

There isn't much time left. The days are winding up like thread around spool after it's been pulled too far. The ends finding knots. It's time to do those things that we said we were going to do.

This day is funny. It's always a mistake to bring expectations to the road yet I still do without fail—dreaming up a flawless sequence of events that could belong in a movie. But the unforeseen twist and turns are where the magic lurks. Or at least an interesting story and I live for those interesting stories. When things go wrong, a part of me is devastated and the other part of me is gleeful. I love it. I'm so scared of living a boring life.

The four of us have ambitious plans of leaving at 7 or 8 in the morning, but Melbourne traffic can get so congested and Maite and Alberto are coming from the South and Jerred and I are in the North so we're not on the road until after 9. I'm self-conscious but happy. Things are ending soon but I'm here with some of my favourite people and that's enough—a happy enough with a hint of sadness around the corner. It always gets like this towards the end of a chapter, when I'm on a precipice about to topple over into something new. It's like I'm at the end of a dream and it's starting to peel back around the edges.

We stop at a gas station where Maite can get some coffee. In the car, we talk a lot about the history of Spain and Catalonia and politics and socialism. I love listening to the trill of Maite's voice—the fiery way she spits out words. I'm going to miss her. The road passes by fields of yellow and Maite and I are all ohhhhh and big eyes. We stop the car, Jerr runs down the railway tracks, Maite dances up the pavement, we jump the fence and wade into sea of golden blooms. Everyone is smiling.

Alberto starts to say something doesn't feel right with the car. When he checks one of the back wheels a second time, it's going flat. And so I again find myself on the side of an Australian road watching someone change a tyre.

Maite, Jerred, and I wait near the road as Alberto goes to find a mechanic. That part of me is worrying that we'll never reach our destination and even if we do get there, we won't have enough time and everything will be ruined while the other part of me thinks this whole day is completely hilarious.

After we reunite with Alberto and as the car waits with the mechanic, we lay down a blanket on a patch of grass between the sidewalk and the road to have a picnic. There's vegan quiche and something Jerred made (banana bread?). We must look so funny to the neighbours, sprawled out in suburbia with our treats. Maite, Alberto, and I are all travellers so I guess we're used to feeling at home anywhere. Once our bellies are full, it's back to the road, another hour to Cactus Country. What we predicted would take us three hours takes us six and the entrance fee is more than I thought but we made it. We made it.

This place is cool. There's more cacti than I've ever seen and little colourful rocks with hopeful phrases painted on them like "be grateful" and "life is a canvas".

The light fades from bright and harsh to mellow and long and subtle just as the place is closing. I wish we had more time but god, I am always wishing for more. Our drive back to Melbourne is quiet—everyone is exhausted from the length of the day and the thick heat. Jerred falls asleep with his head in my lap.

I am running out of time.


Photographs from October 2017.