I feel the light from the uncurtained windows crawling across my closed eyelids before my alarm goes off. The empty walls of my tiny house are gold with the morning when I finally roll over to get up. I turn on some music and roll over to J, next to me on the naked mattress on the floor, surrounded by the drips and dregs of moving debris, laying where we had both collapsed of exhaustion the night before. “Into the caverns of tomorrow, with just our flashlights and our love,” I sing along.
“And our backpacks,” adds J.
“And our backpacks,” I agree. We lay there for a moment – still for a moment – and then the day is upon us. We are NOT ready to go yet.
I mop, J scrubs. I load up, J straps down. We make our pilgrimages to the storage unit. Moving seems to be an endless series of walking back and forth to nowhere exciting. I’ve put miles on today just crossing the living room.
I say this to J while I’m wiping down the kitchen cabinets. “This summer’s going to be hard,” he replies.
“I wish you wouldn’t always talk about this summer like it’s going to be hard,” I say back. “I feel like you keep talking about how it’s going to be hard, and how you’re worried about your knees, and how you keep joking about not making it. They’re self-fulfilling prophecies.”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” he corrects. “It is going to be hard. That’s not a prophecy, that’s a fact, and I think it’s important to acknowledge it.”
“It’s going to be hard whether we talk about it or not,” I retort. “But that’s not what I want our story to be. It’s also going to be beautiful, and we’ll get to sleep outside every day, and see the stars every day, and hear the birds every morning.”
“Just five minutes ago you were moaning about how we haven’t done any training!” J exclaims back at me.
“Exactly!” I say. “I need help with the positive stuff, not with thinking about how hard it’s going to be!”
J just sort of shakes his head at me and we make one last pilgrimage to the storage unit. It’s stacked to the ceiling and full to the front. We have too much stuff.
We’re driving home and listening to the radio when an interview with an author comes on. She’s talking about how the story you tell yourself, of your life, becomes your true story, instead of your life itself. “This is what I mean,” I tell J.
“About the story becoming the thing itself?” he asks.
“Yeah. It’s been on my mind, especially with this blog thing. So many things happen during the day, right? And I pick a few of those things, and then I decide how to write about them, and then freeze it all in print. And then it’s like that becomes the real thing, that those things are what I keep from the day. The writing itself becomes the true story, the one I remember. And I want to remember the best parts, not being hot/cold/tired/itchy.”
“That makes a lot of sense. And that’s way more interesting than the stuff you actually put on your blog. This is what you should be writing about, not snide stories about root canals.”
“Alright alright alright,” I tell him.
We’re finally ready to go, and it’s 4 pm with a 6 hour drive ahead of us. We’ve been riding a wave of exhaustion all day, from packing and moving and cleaning, from asking too many favors from too many friends, from endless, unimportant, and brutally mudane decisions, but it’s time to go.
I realize that I’ve been unemployed for nearly a month now. It’s been the worst month of unemployment ever. Tests and chores and relentless to-do lists. I don’t even get any days off – I’m unemployed all the time! It will be such a relief to get on the trail.
(We’re finally driving across the pitch-black mojave desert, and J asks me what I’m writing about. “I’m writing about writing about the thing you told me to write about.”
“Hm. Recursive.” J says.)