I Was Lost and Found in the Mojave Desert

A little over a year ago, I had somewhat of a meltdown. It wasn't the kind of meltdown that caused me to go into a depression or try to find myself in religion or therapy. I had already done all that the year prior. I tried a lot of different things to achieve the kind of "spiritual wellness" and "positive energy" all those inspirational Instagram accounts talk about. I had hit the "follow" button on tons of them, scrolled through their seemingly endless feeds from my bed first thing each morning and wouldn't you know it? They didn't help. I found myself spending a great deal of time looking at the accounts of inspiring people who were out doing exciting things with interesting people in exotic locations. I looked at their accounts before throwing in a load of laundry and again before heading out to take my dogs to go poop. Damn, if I still didn't feel like planning that trip to Mt. Everest.

I knew I wasn't depressed anymore. But I wasn't happy either. I wasn't sure what I was feeling, honestly. I was beginning to feel that I was only a few Instagram posts away from becoming one of those people who take pictures of what they made for dinner. Seriously, do you think your chicken marsala really deserves it's own fan base? I'm just saying. But really who was I to talk? My life wasn't all that that exciting either. I just wasn't broadcasting my mediocrity. I chose to be an adult and admire my dinner privately.

That being said, it had been a long road to get to where I was. I had a long stretch of sobriety under my belt, dealt with and figured out how to manage a diagnosis of high level Cptsd, gotten married, changed careers and reconnected with my daughter -- I mean, it had been a hell of a couple of years and I was pretty proud of all that. Life was good but it wasn't great. But everything kept telling me it was supposed to be. So I kept filling my head with all the stuff they say you're supposed to tell yourself. You know like, "I may not be where I want to be but I'm not where I used to be," or something like that. I just couldn't seem to get it. Everybody I knew or saw was either a total mess or had it totally figured out. That's how it seemed anyway. All those pictures of their lives? Well, that's the story they told. When I took just a snapshot look into someone's life, that's where I formed my opinion. Wait. Isn't that exactly what I was doing to myself? What I started to realize was that it was my own thoughts and opinions that were getting drowned out over all the noise of everyone else's life. My opinions about everybody else's lives were possibly to blame for my own unhappiness.

So I decided to tap into a little bit of what I knew best. Before I had begun my life of mediocrity, I had always done life big. I'd always thrown caution to the wind before so why not now? It was time to let myself get a little crazy again. Only this time, in my opinion, at least, it was a good crazy and not the kind that required medication. I decided we should sell most of our furniture and move to the middle of the Mojave desert. My husband, a former Marine with five tours of combat under his belt was on board. It actually didn't take a whole lot of convincing to get him to say goodbye to society. Deciding to take on this experiment for one year, we packed up our two dogs and headed for the secluded High Desert.

We were both aware that living in the desert has its challenges. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, wind and dust storms accompanied by blazing heat were to be expected. For my husband, having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, uncomfortable weather conditions were nothing to him. For me, the closest I had been to extreme weather was a few years of living in Las Vegas and working two weeks out of every month inside the heavily air conditioned luxury brothel an hour outside of it. I wasn't exactly an expert at roughing it. However what neither of us had counted on was the lack of internet stability, cell phone service, public services or even road maintenance. We assumed if the place had a zip code and a house with electricity, the rest would be a no brainer. We were wrong.

What also failed to cross our mind was that no one out there was in a hurry about anything. Ever. Coming from a fast paced, move it or lose it lifestyle, it took awhile for it to set in that things didn't run on our schedule. When you live an hour away from the nearest sign of life, it can take awhile to get things done. We were learning that the world did not need us to help nor hurry it along. But after a few weeks of hard lessons, we found ourselves enjoying our morning coffee with nothing more than the sound of each others voices backed up only by the silence of the desert. Our little secluded house in the middle of nowhere with it's lack of the highly opinionated information superhighway was allowing us to come up with some of our own nifty conversations that we may not have otherwise had. It was also showing me that all those 'mental snapshots' I had taken of myself weren't all that accurate. In just the first few weeks I had already begun to see a far less bland version of myself emerging from the sand.

I learned how to appreciate the things I had previously overlooked and learned to overlook the things I previously thought were important. The inspiration and insight I gained from our year long adventure in the 120 degree heat of the Mojave desert showed me a lot more than just how to treat a tarantula bite. This past week was spent packing up our little home as we prepare to make the move back into civilization, so to speak. It was a bittersweet feeling to blow the desert dust off of each item as it went into the box. Having purchased a new home in Southern California, which closes in two weeks, we have slowly begun making our transition back to the land of milfs and money. As I sit here in my hotel, awaiting my inevitable return to society, I'm excited to live life through an entirely different reality than the one I had before. I'm eager to share what I experienced over the past year, who I had the pleasure of meeting and what I learned from them. Maybe I'll even share that tarantula bite thing, too. Who knows.