3 min read

two short stories from my travels


He has reddish brown hair with a silver beard, cheerful crows feet lining his eyes, early 40s. Nice smile. Well spoken. He'll build bottle rockets with his friends' kids this weekend. I wonder what it'd be like to kiss him.

"I came from Austin," I answer. "I grew up in the mountains. I'm potentially moving back. I miss the nature, the quiet, the peace."

"I'm actually thinking of moving to Austin," he answers. "I grew up there. I'm looking at high rises near downtown. I want the busyness of it all."

We both laugh the kind of short, stilted laugh you make with someone new.

"So what's your least favorite thing about living here?"

"... Hm." he pauses. "I think, life is too easy sometimes."

As he talks, I spill a sip of water on myself. I'm still running at 100 miles an hour. I don't know how to take it slow like the barista at this cafe who spends 5 hours talking to every customer. My nervous system is all jitters and go go go and I long for life to be too easy sometimes. I dab myself dry as I envy the smooth, unhurried way he gestures and speaks.

"All my friends here are married with kids. I'm not ready for that yet."

As he says it, I become aware of muddy obscurity to his eyes, the severe line of his haircut, the way the reddish-brown tone looks dyed, the small slope of his nose that doesn't match the rest of his face. A man in his 40s who isn't ready to settle down. Austin will be perfect for him.

He must have seen my expression. "I mean, I almost am! Like, soon!"

But he's ugly to me now.


I'm writing this from Room 13, a room which did not have photos in the listing and simply said, "Life is short, do it."

An elderly couple has the room next to mine. They're in a normal room, a room with photos, like every other room in this motel except mine. They peer in, gasping as I open my door.

"Wow! I can't imagine... please, let us know what it's like sleeping in there."

The American Southwest seems to be full of impossibly stylish senior citizens. This woman in the room next to me has mauve purple glasses, with a cornflower blue silk button down shirt, well-fitted deep purple jeans, a simple turquoise ring,... She looks expensive yet down to the Earth and I want to know her secret.

I'm scared of becoming more invisible as I age. I worry that I'll hit 60 and no one will want to talk to me and I'll be like a living ghost, here but not here, seeing but not seen. But the elderly in New Mexico and Colorado, I notice them. There was an older man this morning who I almost stopped my car to get out and compliment, because his style was THAT good.

I want to talk to this woman. I see her. How could anyone not see her?

She tells me she's from Southern Utah. "I am thinking of moving there!" I say.

"I grew up in Salt Lake."

"Me too."

"Then you know. My friends who have moved to Moab in the last few years, some of them say the desert is even... spiritual."

"Yes!" I answer. "I remember the first time I went, I was 6 years old. Holding the fine red dust in my hands and feeling it sift through my fingers. I felt like my soul was from here, and that I would die here, and my ashes would be spread here. I saw my entire life flash before me, and every time I return, I get the same feeling."

That would normally feel so weird, telling a total stranger something that I've likely never told anyone else because- it's so crazy.

But, she nods. She gets it.

She sees me too.