Sort of sanitized reality.
It’s been a long time now. Sometimes it seems like my whole lifetime, and in a way it really has been. It sounds melodramatic as hell, but in a real sense my life started all over again the day I did that first melodramatically crazy thing, loaded the truck with everything it would hold, abandoned everything it wouldn’t, and headed out to the high desert.
In the summer it’s either hot and dry or wet and muddy. In the winter it’s frigid. As the crow flies this photo is roughly five miles from the nearest power pole. Sometimes the wind blows so hard you’re half afraid it’ll knock your house down. The water’s down deep, and seems about 50% calcium. The nearest town, about ten miles away, is like the set of Idiocracy. The closest traffic light is forty miles away by road. It’s right next to the closest supermarket. We’re up to our asses in drunken Apaches and toothless rednecks, culties and tweakers and assorted very strange people. Only an idiot would deliberately live here.
It was nothing dramatic that drove me to it. It was nobody’s fault but mine. Yes, everything had fallen apart but nothing had ever fit together all that well to begin with so it came as no surprise. I’d spent decades trying to be Mr. Suburban Man and could never make it work. Now my marriage was over, my career was in ruins, and my one child was married and off on her own. I could do whatever I wanted to do, and nothing I wanted to do had anything to do with anything I’d been doing all those years.
Somebody said to me one time, when I was much younger, “Some men are just born to be bachelors, and you are the classic case.” I took it as an insult at the time: Now I look back on it as some of the best life advice I ever ignored.
No, none of that is important. I’m not anybody’s victim and life didn’t let me down. I just wasted a lot of people’s time trying to fit in where I didn’t belong. When I left the city and headed out to a place I’d barely seen, every step of the trip felt like coming home.
Some friends, people I didn’t even know all that well, said I should come stay at their place for a while. After a couple of years they showed me a little meadow in the crotch of a branching ridge, near where a big dry wash takes a hairpin turn, and invited me to build my home there. And that’s what I did.
I have no money, no safety net, no property, no credit, no bank account, no licenses or Government-Issued Photo ID of any kind. Haven’t owned a new shirt in a decade. I thought I might freeze a couple of times, and I sure learned to eat cheap.
I’ve never been happier. This is where I fit.