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  • I wear a red dress on a desert hike because I like the idea of a red dress against a blue sky against the white sand against the pointy green Joshua Trees. We are marching along the endless trail like desert warriors. At some points, we are hovering above it. The heat has us light, loose, and porous. I scrunch some of the bottom of my dress into my left hand and pull it up over my knees for the practical benefit of letting my legs breathe, and maybe, for the epic imagery of it all. We don’t have a plan, but we have water, and a desire to lose ourselves a little, on a blazing hot hike far away from everyone. Here, there is literally, no one. As I move through the desert, I stare off at the wild looking Joshua Trees on either side of the winding path. The decomposing ones are shape shifting: I see a girl with braided pigtails in a split, with her face buried in the sand between her legs. I see a thick thighed cowboy. I see the profile of a large whale spitting up a pair of thin reaching arms.
  • I wish I could preserve the kind of stillness I experience in the desert. Every once in a while some black fly will circle around my head; an audible halo, tormenting me for just a moment. Mostly, I savor the stillness, and wonder how I’ll get back to this same place when I leave here.
  • My own internal wilderness is wide awake in this vast hot desert. Sweat is dripping down my face, and my lips are chapped and salty. Freckles are beginning to populate my cheeks, nose, arms, and eyelids. I’m pissing on a single tuft of dry grass and watching the stream slink through the sand like a skinless desert snake. We are glugging water on a huge slab of smooth rock. I intermittently miss my mouth, and I'm drooling cold water down my chin. I am raising my eyebrows to test if my forehead is getting burnt. I am smiling because it is not. When we are back on the trail, I’m following behind my man who has the endurance of a cheetah and an irrational amount of discipline. Every step we take, we lose perspective on where we started, and it really doesn’t matter. The desert is getting slurped up behind us and we are making turns that are only vaguely marked by piles of wood, single rows of rocks, and the occasional faded white arrow on a brown pole.
  • Yes, I am a native New Englander, who craves saunas, wood stoves, pine trees and the mountains, but now I am surely of the desert. For a moment, or two or three, I think I could be one of those ladies with leathery skin and crystals, bringing her square eyed sheepdog down her favorite secret trail, where she goes every week and meditates. I feel strangely from here; birthed from all of this heat and endless sky.
  • When we are on our way back from the part of the trail where we had to squeeze through tall narrow nooks between rocks, and lift our bodies over wild brambly plants, I ask us to stop. I want to take a picture with our shirts off, sweaty and in our element, in this 106 degree desert. I make us close our eyes, and we position ourselves so that the strange, space age trees are poking up in the background. I want to take this picture for our children one day, so they can learn something about who we were when we were young, and on fire. I also want to take this picture for us, so we will always be reminded of that same thing.
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