Life now was ardent like a battery acid burn, like an intense orgasm, pain and pleasure. Raw and soothed. My life was a grotesque beauty, a divine sin. I cheated death, challenged it, rubbed his balls and then kicked them. I was standing in front of what I had created through will and at times forced by my bad decisions. I was clinically alive. I had survived my defeats. But I was not yet living.
My current civilization in Los Angeles was still too vast for my fragile spirit and psyche. I was in need of both wilderness and confinement simultaneously. I needed closure and self-forgiveness. I had cursed the Hollies and I wanted to talk to the God. For most of my life I grew up in a type of concreted wasteland. The City of Los Angeles, my home, my heaven, and my hell. I loved the ocean, but today I needed something more private where I could engulf myself with an all absorbing solitude. So I came to the desert. In the beauty of the desert it was easier for me to accept the fact that I was subtly damned. Half-way broken. And, that I would always be, like the pretty little china dolls at the Salvation Army thrifts that have a chip on their tiny nose, or their little head is glued to their neck with stale green gum.
I parked my crappy, but beloved 1991 Jeep Cherokee kept on the road by my most gracious Armenian mechanic Nazo, who never seemed to use tools, just a lot of cussing. I sat under a tremendous gray and khaki colored monochromatic boulder. My thoughts floated into the hot pre-dawn morning. The thoughts ranged from the feel of the sand to wondering how many braves had been killed by our Manifest Destiny driven cavalries and vice versa.
Watching the sun rise I could hear life sprout from the plant life. There were grey and black woodpeckers drawing water from the Joshua Trees and tons of other little birds. The sky’s cosmic placenta tore open and in a flash outburst, an explosion of orange, blue, white and yellow at about 6 a.m. covered me. The Sun ascended to the sky. I opened one of the three water bottles I brought with me. I sat under the shade of a gigantic Yucca and felt the crumbly desert floor on my ass and legs. My eyes followed fire ants to and fro from a nearby sage brush. My mind was processing a form of life not akin to mine. The ants carried tiny white cottony morsels on their backs into the brush, perhaps provisions for the winter months.
I startled myself a few moments later as I became aware that I was asking my God why the ants did what they did and knew what to do without any problem. I was asking out loud as if God was there in the form of a human. “Do they have a phone?” I smiled and called myself “stupid.” The tone of my thoughts changed somewhat as I asked God why Charlie and Lucienne had left me. I asked God if I was that despicable or if I was being punished for the life I led prior. I quieted my mind and dug my left index finger into the sand feeling the pulse of the terrain.
Having finished my water, I was satisfied in seeing the sun rise and opened the hatch of my Jeep and climbed in. I lay on my mother’s white patch work quilt stolen from her home by me when I was around fifteen. With my heavy eyes I recall giving thanks to the desert and to a brown scrawny hare staring at me from atop a nearby white rock. I remember not wanting to fall asleep before telling myself that I needed to find strength. I told myself that Charlie and Lucienne were in a far better place and that someday, after God decided I was through in this life that I would get to see them again and all of my lost loved ones.
And, to this day I tell myself that even though I struggle with self-forgiveness, I am still very much in love with this oblique world. To this day, I remind myself that if I cannot fully love myself yet, no one has been able to take my capacity to feel love and compassion for others, whether I or they like it or not.
Just like those ants had a predisposed destiny, I began to understand that I had one too; that I could only be myself, no more, no less. I recalled those close to me say that it was a waste to put others before me. At that moment right before my desert slumber, the God wafted a light breeze on my left foot and I knew that if one single ant in that sage brush went about on its own, the whole colony could suffer. But if that ant followed its tiny ant heart and what it’s God had created in it, then it and its colony would thrive. One was needed by all and all by one. Charlie once told me I was of the universe and maybe he knew something I did not. I tightly embraced my love for the world. I felt power. It always has been and always will be, I suppose, a character flaw of mine, but for that I am grateful. I’m still not sure if I’m living life quite yet, but that day I took a step in the right direction. Then I slept in peace for a little while.