Today I look forward to the stillness of things on the trail. To waking before the sun, when the sky is muted and blue-black. To the sounds that seem to live only in those pre-dawn moments: the zzzzzzzzzip of a tent flap opening, the crunch of frost-bitten leaves under foot, the chatter of birds in the half-light. I look forward to walking in those cold quiet hours when the moon and sun perform their grand pas de deux, and beneath them, I am small. My nearly six-foot frame–long limbs browned by sun and dirt–is small. My clown shoes–two sizes too big and awash in dust–are small. Even my colossal pack is small.
The moment is gone. I’m back in LA, in the bed we used to share, reminded of all the camping trips we used to take together, but more than that, of the drives back home. An unspoken tradition, we would play the Modest Mouse song, “Dirty Fingernails”, usually after one of us caught a glimpse of the thick black half-moons that had collected underneath our fingernails. We’d shout along when we were supposed to shout and sing along when the song called for it. I kept beat with my sneakered feet against the dashboard; he played the steering wheel like a drum. Then we’d get off the freeway in San Bernardino and stop at Starbucks (somehow managing to get lost every time) where we peed in toilets that flushed and scrubbed the dirt off our hands in the sink until the water swam clear down the drain. We drove home, high on iced coffee and lo-fi nineties music, on nature and each other.