Day 9: And Now Goodbye
Last night I volunteered to be wake-up for our final day. Wake-up can be anything from going around and knocking on people’s tents to playing an instrument or singing a song. This morning I woke up at 5:30 am. The sun was still down and the sky was navy and jeweled with a thin crescent moon glowing high above camp. I sang The Beatles’ Blackbird. As I walked figure eights around the campground and sang, “Take these sunken eyes and learn to see all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free,” I kept my eyes on the horizon and took note of its moment of silence and darkness just before awakening. For the first time in nine days, I felt hope like a small spark in my chest just beginning to grow. Alone in a sleeping camp with the thought of blackbirds flying, I felt the rise of something beautiful.
After one run through of Blackbird, no one woke or stirred. I took the opportunity the quiet and dark gave me and climbed up on the grey Silverado truck and waited for the sun to rise. A thunderstorm rolled from the southeast cracking lightning and threatening to come our way. The tips of sun began in the east coloring the broken clouds in shades of pink and purple, and the crescent moon still crowned the sky. Elizabeth woke up and came and joined me. We sat together on the roof of the truck. She shared a cigarette with me. We didn’t talk, but instead let silence sit between us. The smoke entered my lungs and the morning sat on my shoulders. I would be O.K. I didn’t need to build walls or fill space with noise. For once, I could just be, she and me sitting on a truck watching the desert come alive, the day begin. That was enough. That was a lot because for the first time in nine days I was present. For the first time, I gave myself permission to be alive in the desert.
By the time the sun had moved over the horizon the entire camp was up and moving about. People were pouring coffee, brushing teeth, heading to the toilet. Our last day was upon us. As I walked back to my tent to begin packing and breaking down, Winston called out, “Look a rainbow!” And there, streaked across the bright sky, an arch of colors just above my tent. This morning brought the desert a blackbird, a crescent moon, pink clouds, a navy sky, a rainbow, and now goodbye.