Life’s Little Turns, Twists, and Things

I remember my mentor and the person that took me to archeology would never give life advice even when pressed for it. We would walk along some dusty, desert trail in the Mojave or in the foothills outside of Mojave California. Sometimes I could hear RWR humming silently to himself. He had an eye for finding archeological sites and we’d stop sometimes mid walk and he and I would spread out and flag a site. We would then find ourselves on a topographic map using a compass and map the site in. Triangulation is a wonderful skill. Perhaps it is like swimming. If you can find a few known points but don’t know where you are, you can simply draw lines on a map from two or three points like mountains or cliffs or other features. Where the lines intersect is the place you are. RWR would hum more intensely with his compass in hand and ask me to verify the work. Sometimes we would sit and study the archeological site. I imagined then the site was whispering some cosmic secret to RWR and he, in turn, gauged the story.

We would get done and continue. Sometimes walking toward the jeep and other times away. The Mojave desert sky would be turning deep blue and pink and finally we would turn around and walk back to where the jeep was. We could find our way with compass and map but often we just dead reckoned and sure enough the blue monster would soon appear. It had our water and food and beer. Sleeping bags and ice chests came out. RWR would begin cooking and I took the job of slicing and dicing. Cooking most often was a simple affair. We would have cans of whatever food like pork and beans, peaches, carrots, whatever. I would cut up some things and all would go into the pot. RWR would cook up some pan bread.

The warm Budweiser soon opened and the sky went dark and the stars dazzled our eyes. There were no lights from cities or highways where we were. We were alone together in a desert made of sometimes eerie noises. Coyote howls. A red tail hawk dives. The stars erupt in vision quests of life.

After the beer and food RWR was open to talk. It would start innocently enough about the day. The archeological sites. The desert. Why the beer never stayed cold but warm beer was always good enough we would agree. Then maybe in a philosophical bent, RWR would offer a little nugget. Some flint knapped from his source. The blade glistening against the fire. I would ask him about changes in life. A half smile would appear and he’d tell me,

Mike, there is nothing so constant in life as change.

Then changes

Life changed many times from then until now. Marriages and friendships came and went. Places did too. RWR still lives in a smaller house on the edge of the Mojave Desert. A man alone with a life of wandering deserts. But he is still in my spirit and soul. And life has turned and twisted and things become other things. Whether we want them to or not. Neither of us were good at human relationships. I think archeologists of all people are the most secretive about the human side. They know stones and bones only too well. But the human change sometimes leaves them speechless. The warm beer helped ease the transition from stone and bone to conversation.

And in the end, RWR would offer few pieces of advice because life is a private thing and we all know what works for a person there does not here. I miss sometimes the guidance and friendship and the bear hugs. The wandering the desert in his jeep sometimes drunk on life or beer. Finding the elusive moment staring at a desert sky enriched with just how life has twisted and turned.

Yeah RWR it is a constant. I’m over here now and I still watch the troubles I have finding people and how friendships become ever more difficult. Relationships and people and things are part of it all. Forever changing. So constant but changing. Will there come a time to embrace the change? Find a person? Who the hell knows. Is it important to not have a person? I think so and not. Because life and moments are tenuous and fleeting.

Little twists and turns and things from a desert to a blog post written from a room at sunset in Siem Reap Cambodia.

Thanks for reading.

December 4, 2022