I used to say I thought of this time in lushness and citric tones. Before I even came, I had already seen it. It is very far from what I imagined, but the sun-beaming overtones remain. Whoever believes sunshine is the same as joy has never burnt their soles on the sand in summertime.

For a while, I thought the ocean would do it. The blue and the tug underwater and the tousled hair in the corners of my mouth. I looked for the salt like it would save me and when it didn’t, because of course it didn’t, I almost forgot why I’d wanted it to.

His voice travels across the seas to find me and he talks about cutting bread and there never being an easy way and I ask him for notes on my writing like we could still make something out of this mess. Mexico is a long way behind me and the exits on the highways here all look the same.

So let’s say there was another way out. Say there would be a new woman, blonder and tanner and better at waking up in the mornings. Put her in shorts and teach her how to make a fire in the desert. I can almost see the way she’d buy ice at the big store off of the East highway, slipping out of her hot shoes and testing avocados in the palm of her hand. She’ll stand in an aisle, trying to decipher the difference between distilled and spring water. She’ll think a lot about finding a river to undress in front of in the mountains. And she will look exactly like, and sound nothing like, who I was that night on my sister’s queen bed.

If you told me I’d end off this year driving down Californian roads and singing in Spanish and feeling close to nothing at all about any of it, I would probably believe you. All of it feels like it was always going to be this way. I was always going to get lost and cut my legs on Joshua Tree bristles and eat frozen oranges from the trunk of someone else’s car. I chose this road a long time ago and all I needed was someone to give me the keys and tell me to put it in drive.

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