I don’t know who you are…
I’d left the Grand Canyon just as the sun was rising, and had arrived in Death Valley around 4. The heat was on that day, 109° in most places, making excursions of any sort unbearable. I resigned myself to staying in the air conditioning of my car and the visitors center, and only ventured out as the sun was looking to set, and that happened to be near the time I arrive at Mesquite Flats.
On the drive south away from the canyon the road climbs on a long, gentle slope, until you are nestled in tall pines as you head into the heart of the Coconino National Forest to the west of Flagstaff. It’s a beautiful setting in and of itself, and certainly enjoyable to travel through. But during west on I-40 the plateau only last for so long and soon you are descending again and find that the temperatures climb and climb and climb.
It was in this growing heat and haze that I started to lose the peace I’d enjoyed on the rim of the Grand Canyon. And, the illusions I was holding onto began to crumble, the discomfort in my current reality stated to gnaw its way to the surface.
Why do they have to collide; our realities and our illusions should be more compliant. But they aren’t. There’s a natural tension between the two. The mirage like silhouettes appeared and played along the dune’s edge, with no idea another lens was trained on them. It was hard not to project my own illusions into this play, a reminder of what could be. This was the tension that I had been struggling with on this trip. Having had a horrible break up, I was left clinging to the potential. I think this is one of my faults, as this very specific act haunted me for years after my divorce. I had stubbornly and painful held on to the potential of my failed marriage, and it ripped me apart day after day for more years than I like to recall.
So, watching this pair, knowing that I was supposed to be travelling WITH someone on THIS trip, just tore open all of those old wounds. I was aware when I’d gotten on the road that something wasn’t right, but the excitement of finding perfect images at Mesa Arch, and the experience at the Grand Canyon had comforted any of those concerns. It seemed that here, in the dry and barren sands, the discomfort was stirring.