When Desert Winds Blow

Posted on 7 Jul 2010 in Imagine | 0 comments

It had been an incredibly long day. I had left Berkeley early that morning, a bit rough from the night before. I’m honestly not sure whether or not I had even slept. But I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t come for a specific purpose, but then again, in those days, I ran full gypsy, embracing the road like a drunken lover. I had left Berkeley in order to run from something – I was usually running from something – and arrived in Los Angeles in order to escape.
Dead tired, red-eyed from lack of sleep, I decided my next step. It didn’t matter that it was nearing midnight, or that I hadn’t even rested in days, I headed out to the Nuart. It was Saturday night, and Sins of the Flesh was on. I had never wanted to perform in the show, but normally it was enough to go and see the old crowd. Various people would come at various times. But this night was slightly different. Someone was joining the navy the next day.
I think many of us were still wondering why our friend was literally enlisting the next day. It had been a season of many we knew and loved joining the armed forces. But that night, none of us were really ready to accept it. And the decision was relatively unanimous. He was going to get married. We would drive to Vegas that night, get it done, and be back in time for him to leave the next afternoon.

We loaded up the cars. And we drove. Halfway there, when stopping at a gas station for fuel and sustenance, I looked at the bride-to-be, in jeans and a jersey shirt of some sort. I was wearing my 10 hole, black, steel-toed Doc Martens and a long, lacy white dress. It was purely bridal. The fabric clung to me like the wind, but I thought no bride should be refused a white dress on her wedding day. So there, in the middle of the shop, I took off the dress. Underneath, I was wearing a dress-slip, which in the current fashion would be absolutely prudish. It covered everything, and ran down to my calves. And there, in the store, she slipped it on. It was perfectly grotesque. Beautiful and horrifying at the same time. What were we doing in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night, exchanging clothes in a petrol station?

But in my hazy consciousness, all seemed right. We arrived, got licensed, and I witnessed the wedding. We celebrated and cheered. Then I drove my friend home to get ready for the navy. I remember looking at him and wondering where his time would take him. This was about 5 years before any of our wars in the Middle East began, so imminent death wasn’t my primary concern. But only months previously, someone very close to me had joined the Marine Corps, and I’d lost him. As painfully and deeply as if he’d been shot by sniper fire. Something had changed. I looked at my other friend, as he readied himself to go, and realized that it might happen again. It was not my first time that I felt the pain swell inside my heart and felt the tears come as I realized what a price was paid by those who joined the military. And the price was never simply theirs alone.

That gypsy girl still lives in my heart, but she slips away a little bit every day. I can remember with clarity the times that I spent with the Circle, even the times when I wasn’t all there. There was a power in the group that connected us in ways that even we failed to understand.

But when the hot wind blows, like the rising heat off the blasted sand of the desert, I feel the skirts of my inner gypsy twirl about me. If I stand and close my eyes and wait quietly, I can hear her siren call to run off into the road, wandering wherever it may take me. I see her raise her arms and beckon, calling me into the sun. And sometimes, when I turn my back and walk away, I can hear her mourn softly for the years and the loves I left behind.