Hot steel is a steep contrast against the chilly spring sunset. Breaking speed laws helped me get out of the city in less than twenty minutes but it also overheated the capabilities of my 250cc engine. The dealership told me I wouldn’t hit a hundred so I’m always trying to prove them wrong. It’s a sore spot, I guess. People telling me I can’t do something. People or, whatever, myself I guess.
I pull off the road and kill the engine. The trailhead is a mile up this stretch of desert but I’m not going to risk my tires on these jagged rocks. I lock my helmet under my seat, retrieve my girlfriend’s camera, and shoulder my backpack before heading out. (I spent about ten minutes considering that oxford comma).
A trip like this isn’t for the hike. It isn’t for the instagram filters or the soul searching. A trip like this is because your gut is in knots and you’ve got frustration burning the skin off the tips of your fingers. A trip like this is spent hunched over like Golum with a notepad and pencil in your hand consuming blank spaces like you’re getting paid for it.
But you’re not. Well, I don’t know if you are; I’m not. And fuck me for trying.
I don’t fit in here. Hikers pass me by in neon things. Shorts, jackets, shoes. Bright things. I wade between them like a fly among flowers. Buzzing along in a leather jacket and jeans and the kind of haircut that looks less like a haircut and more like a mistake.
The terrain is dead. Twisted branches gnarled into arthritic fists clenched at the heavens for their fate. Is the desert a reflection of my insides or my insides a reflection of the desert?
Because I’m fucking lost. I’m the little monkey on your child’s mobile running in circles. What do I do – write? Writing like this and hoping it’s going to turn into something of a life? I can’t. What then? College? I should’ve gone. I should’ve bent at the knees and let societal standards fuck me in the ass for four years so I could get a piece of paper that could get me a better job. What job though? Every notch on this retail ladder I’ve climbed has only bored me more. Mechanic, maybe. Work on bikes only. I could do that. Grease stains and loud music. Just enough money to live but not enough to ever quit. But the words – the fucking words.
In my head. In my chest. In my fingers, throbbing, wringing, aching, stinging, breaking, bringing frustrating rhythms to my brain and spilling flame like gasoline’s in them, words filled to the brim with the will to just give in and type, or write till the pencil tip splits and resigns or till I’m reminded of my drive to survive, why I’m designed to comply to the lines in my mind every lie, every sigh, every moment in life that I’ve questioned these words they’ve come back twice as bright, twice as mighty but twice as likely to deny my plight, well I’m pleading tonight with my knees to my eyes will the need to write finally cease or realize that a life full of words is still meaningless… right?
Stop. Clear my mind. I’ve reached the peak of the trail and the sun’s dropping behind the mountains. Those ageless giants. Up here silence is so fruitful it becomes company.
On my way back down a woman says something to me. I look up and see a group of people (I don’t remember how many – at least four) led by a blond woman with a bob-cut and wearing neon sneakers.
“What?” I ask her.
“There’s deer.” She’s pointing to a hill adjacent to the trail. She must’ve seen my camera and thought I cared.
“Oh,” I say. “Thank you.”
I guess I did care because I crossed over the desert and took a couple of pictures (I’m not going to post them here because in black and white deer just look like more rocks and dead plants) and when I left I didn’t mention the deer to anybody else I ran into. A silent cheer of victory. Senseless pride jacking off to the notion that I saw something other people wouldn’t. That miniscule rise of joy grown from independence and discovery that, ironically, I wouldn’t have discovered without someone else.
I want things but I don’t know what they are. Travel. Writing. Riding. Nail-biting adrenaline or hiding under tents and finding undiscovered lands with my girlfriend in the stands cheering me on or holding my hand. I just get stuck in the rhythms and the words are easy ways to navigate through them. I feel the empty space and I just want to fill it up with sentences and paragraphs. But I lose focus. I need that – focus. A place to pinpoint all this energy.
All I want to do is ride into new places with my laptop and a camera and make art. The fuck kind of abstract idea is that? I don’t know. I guess I’ll go write about it.