“Desert is simply that: An ecstatic critique of culture, an ecstatic form of disappearance. — Jean Baudrillard, America
The desert will show you your true self. That’s why people go there, I think, to slough off dead skin — literally and metaphorically. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had become my dead skin, and I couldn’t peel it back without some searing heat and bitter truth. So I took him to the desert.
“Forcing it” is my specialty, I can make a key meant for nothing jam a lock shut, I can pretend my way in and out of the most hellish situations, and I can certainly convince my heart that scraps are enough to get by on, and more importantly, the best I deserve. But this is about the desert.
One of the best parts of the desert is going to the desert. I imagine it’s not quite the same if you live there; there’s the journey, away from ample water and civilization, into the long, lazy stretches of nothingness — that’s half the experience.
For the trip, I’d acquired the use of a gorgeous little convertible, a bright cherry red Buick Cascada convertible. It felt so good to hide inside the luxury of this speedy, flashy car. I could’ve happily driven it for the rest of my life, I think. Heading out into the middle of nowhere felt safer with Wi-Fi inside the car, and, maybe I thought the car would cover up whatever insecurities I felt in myself. On the way there, it almost felt like it did. On the way back, I was happy to have a car that felt foreign and small, to speed away in.
All the accessories, and driving with the top down made me feel special — which is exactly what a convertible is supposed to do. But we fought about whether to have the top up or down, what music to listen to, what lane to be in, how fast I should drive; the car was another reminder of how often we disagreed about how the basics of how life should come together, and how often I chose to put aside my own feelings to elevate his.
At one point, I realized I liked having the car on the trip more than having him. That was a warning sign.