Dreaming about the desert again
March 2, 2020


There are more seats on the subway than usual today and the library is extra quiet. Everybody‚Äôs taking care not to sniffle or cough. I’m trying to finish the book I’ve been writing for years. Instead I stare at old maps of the Mojave desert, dreaming of the day I find my way back.

I replay the days the two of us spent wandering the vacant grid of California City where there are only empty sandlots and signs for streets named Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Chrysler, and the heartbreakingly optimistic 140th Street. Or the half-abandoned towns with mint-green names like Desert Shores and Bombay Beach that huddle along the edge of the accidental Salton Sea, little failed utopias with streets named Diamond Avenue and Rainbow Lane.

The Saturday night vibration of buggies racing across the dunes. The celestial pinks that spill across the desert floor like a Renaissance painting. I think I could find religion out there.

Tonight I crave the cadence of the desert. Groom Lake. Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range. Devil’s Hole. Epic names that speak of salvation and redemption. Airplane graveyards glint in the desert sun, perfectly preserved by the unoxidized air. Driving out of the town of Mojave, there’s a sign that says, “If my people humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land.”

Dirty Beaches – Golden Desert Sun

From Golden Desert Sun/Night Drive | Italian Beach Babes, 2010 | Bandcamp

A highlight from Alex Zhang Hungtai’s Dirty Beaches project that rewires a jittery 1950s Americana energy into something hypnotic and haunted.

Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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