12 August 2012

homecoming in the red rocks

Today I became one of those people who take pictures out plane windows.

I've made the flight from Chicago to Las Vegas three times now in the past year {and by this time next month, I will have made it four times}, and every time, I've looked down at the red rocks and desert below me and thought: I know I must've been there.

My family spent most of our vacations camping out West, perhaps because it was as different a landscape as you could get from Iowa. My parents have given me many things, but every time I come back to Utah and the desert, I am grateful one more time for their gift of travel.

They made sure we saw the world beyond the cornfields, and now seeing the red rocks feels like a homecoming. On the plane today, it felt like the great, expansive landscape below me was welcoming me with open arms.

And so I had to take a picture. It's like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a long time: you want to document the moment when some part of you you didn't know was lonely suddenly felt full again.

The desert doesn't make me feel lonely so much as aware of my own smallness. Even looking at it from 35,000 feet—high above and through the scattered wisps of clouds—it makes you realize how you take up one speck of the world and how surrounding you are other little specks trying to make the most of where they are.

These are the kinds of thoughts the desert brings me. {I never think of it as me bringing anything to the desert.} I wanted to share it with someone, and so I turned to the girl sitting next to me on the United flight.

She was watching a subtitled British show on her iPad—subtitled into Chinese. At the moment I turned to her, Stonehenge was exploding in the show and she was laughing. I thought something might've been lost in translation and decided to leave my desert thoughts in my head.

And on my camera. I took a picture of my homecoming to the red rocks and wondered if my dad, looking at this picture, would be able to tell what I was flying over. His memory for our vacations—his memory for everything—always makes me jealous.

I wanted him on that plane with me so he could lean over and say, "Right there? We were camped there when you were 7 and your sister was 9. We spent the day hiking [fill in the name of a trail I can't remember] and then the night was so clear we decided to sleep under the stars."

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