A Fish Without Water

Feeling like a fish out of water? Almost literally, I am. This part of Arizona is constantly windy and wind sucks the moisture out of everything including you. I think, “Why did I come here? This place is not me.” So many good things about it but so many bad. I don’t feel at home in such a dry place. Alienated.

Then passing through Johnson Valley, CA in the Mojave on the way to Yucca Valley near Joshua Tree National Park I see a sign written in some pictographic language. Cambodian? How alienated must people from the jungle southeast Asia feel in the desert? And yet they adapt and endure. I can adapt and endure, too. The choices I made in my life up to this point put me in this position and I had to make a decision that I would not necessarily have made if all things were perfect. But since when was life perfect?

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We saw that Nomadland won best picture. We had already seen the movie a while back. Our reaction? The movie glamourized that existence. We’ve been “nomads”, so we know what that life is actually like. Even the name “nomad” is glamorous.  C’mon. We call ourselves “full-timers”.

For one thing they didn’t show what it’s like when the weather is crappy and you’re stuck in your van for days. You could move to better weather but what if you don’t have enough money to pay for gas to drive somewhere else? Better weather is invariably far away maybe the next state over. And maybe the place where there’s better weather is already full of other campers and you have to stay in a rest stop with 16 wheelers rumbling all night long around you. It happens.

And another thing. Where do you go to the bathroom? They didn’t show that. Your option is what? A porta pottie which may or may not be clean. Which brings up the question what if you need to go in the middle of the night? How far away will that porta pottie be and maybe the weather is not so good or it’s dark and you can’t find your flashlight. So, you resort to a pottie bucket in your camper and don’t knock it over by accident. They didn’t show that.

You get the picture. And this is just the small part of the picture. Nomad existence is just like life. Long periods of no-so-nice punctuated by brief moments of glory.

If given the chance to live in a very nice house on the coast in Northern California any full timer in their right mind would jump at the chance! It’s not realistic that she decides not to stay. What? She likes bad weather and pottie buckets? Thumbs down. Hollywood blows it again. Great performance, though, by one of my favorite actresses (France McDormand). She deserved the Oscar.

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Let’s say this about Arizona though: When Arizona has clouds, they are spectacular. When I lived in the Bay Area my dad would say “send me some sunset pictures!” And I would say, “Dad, they don’t have sunsets here. They have fog.” Now I wish Dad was alive and I would send him all the sunsets he wanted and more.

Fair weather cumulus in the Wilcox Basin
Sunset over our neighbors

1 thought on “A Fish Without Water”

  1. I love all of this. Especially your perspective about being able to adapt and endure. I always think of the pioneers in their coveted wagons, first crossing the Rockies from the east. Talk about big changes!
    And you are spot on with your assessment of nomad life. It only sounds like a fun time. But in reality, that’s no way to live for the long haul. Humans were meant to create, not merely wander. I’ve not seen the movie, but I’ve had my share of camper life to know that it’s not a long term solution.
    Last thing- I have heard that those Arizona sunsets are glorious. Enjoy them. It sounds like you’re doing well at adapting already:)

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