Around noon, I realized I’d better figure out where I was going to sleep that night. The whole time on the train, I hadn’t had to worry about that. I had to worry about if anybody would be in the car I was riding in, and if so, would they leave me alone, but I always knew I’d be sleeping somewhere on that train.
But I realized I didn’t know where I’d sleep tonight.
I wanted someplace where others wouldn’t be around. I didn’t just want to sleep on a park bench or under a mesquite there in the main grounds.
Where I wanted to sleep was on that bluff where my dad and I had camped out.
I remembered the way there. I took the high trail, that ran along the crest of the mesa, so I could survey the area, make sure it looked safe.
My heart sang when I saw it. I don’t know. I expected it to be gone or something. Like the whole landscape would have changed, just because my dad wasn’t there. Because that’s how it had felt. That’s how it still feels.
I sat on a rock and looked down at the clearing where we’d camped. There it was. Just the same, still encircled with a ring of boulders. There was stuff there–a table. Maybe a grill. Other things I couldn’t identify.
I ran the whole way down the trail.
It looked like it had been somebody’s campsite sometime. There was an old cot, cardboard spread out like a rug or something, a little meditation stool, and a yoga mat. It was all old and abandoned.
I shook out the bedroll on the cot and hung it over the bench so the afternoon sun would sterilize it. I’d read that in the desert, especially at this high elevation, the sun is the best sterilizer.
While the blankets baked under the solar radiation, I scavenged the lower part of the trail. I found some saguaro fruit, which I picked with a long forked branch, just like the Tohono O’odham do during harvest festival. Then I picked some prickly pears and some barrel cactus fruits. I picked a few nopalitos, too, and gathered up dry mesquite branches and mesquite pods for the barbecue.
A few hours later, I was sitting down to a feast and the bees were circling around, drawn by the sweetness of the roasted fruit.
I felt really alive.
There was something about focusing all my attention on getting the food and preparing it that took me out of my worries.
I got my notebook out of my backpack, and that’s when I started writing all of this.
When I was writing, I remembered something that Gran always told me. “Don’t worry. When you worry, it means that you forgot how big the universe is. Honey-baby, don’t worry. Instead, watch, and you will see that whatever you need, something will pop up to fill that need.”
I forgot that she had said that. From the moment I ran way until now, I had completely forgot that she used to tell me that.
But look at it now: What had I needed? A safe place to stay. What did I have now? A safe place to stay. And I could get all my food I needed myself, right from the desert around me. And cook it myself. And there was even a bed waiting for me.
It’s like the universe looked down and saw, “Here’s a kid who’s in trouble. She needs a place to stay. Let’s get her out of this situation, and bring her someplace where she can find herself again and recuperate.”
For that’s what I’m doing. I’m recuperating.
It’s not so much that I’m sad. It’s that I had a loss, on top of other losses long time ago, and now I’m recuperating.
I think that’s all I really need: just the time and space to be alone and figure out how to take care of myself.
The beauty is that when I focus just on today, then I can’t even worry or feel sad, because all my energy goes into keeping it together today, making sure I have what I need. That’s a full-time job, right there. So, what I’m hoping is that I can just focus on that full-time job for the amount of time it takes to get over grief, and then, when that time passes, maybe I’ll find myself in a different situation, but by then, the grief-time will have passed, so maybe then I can just be happy. I don’t know if I’ll still be a kid, but at least, maybe then, I can be happy.