We started 2017 in Joshua Tree National Park. I, personally, started it – for the most part – sick in Joshua Tree National Park.
I’ve been sicker than a dog for two weeks now. I spent my long-anticipated 2.5-week winter shutdown SICK. Sick sick sick (for the second year in a row, actually – sure hope this isn’t some kind of omen about 2017!). I worked my ass off all fall, right up until the last minute, setting a new record for submissions to the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, running the student experience at Adobe MAX, holding the first-ever Adobe Career Bootcamp, and then I finally got my break – only to be SICK.
Still – I managed to salvage some things about my precious shutdown.
I spent five days at my mom’s in Michigan and I was conscious for long enough to get a little quality time with my Grandpa on what we believe will be his last Christmas (but it wasn’t as much time as I wanted).
I couldn’t leave the house on Christmas Day to go have family dinner at my aunt and uncle’s, and I felt really sad about that (actually, at the time, I was doped up on meds and asleep on the couch, but I felt really sad when I woke up in the middle of the night in a coughing fit). BUT, everyone did made a special stop to have dinner with me (a messy, nose-blowing dinner) on the way to the airport to make up for it.
I got to celebrate my sister’s birthday with her, and I got to see some old friends (even though they may have regretted it when they saw how sick I was!).
AND – I made it to Joshua Tree.
It was the highlight of these two (so far) sick weeks. Back in Oakland, I was feeling momentarily better as we were packing up to hit the road, and it felt like New Year’s Eve might be salvageable. I’d planned the trip with our friends Julie and Liam, hoping for a super-fun Mojave Desert party – hiking in the crisp winter sunshine by day, drinking and dancing by the firepit at night.
In reality, I started feeling sick(er) once we went over the very first mountain pass – my head plugged back up like a brick and I was in pain for four days straight. Once we got to the town of Twentynine Palms, it was damn cold and blustery; it actually RAINED more than once, including on New Year’s Eve proper (ahem – Joshua Tree gets just 5 inches of rainfall a YEAR, and it got most of them that night; WTF).
(Our rental house was pretty perfect, though:)
BUT, the desert, it turns out, is most beautiful just after a rain. The sky is incredibly dynamic, the light is magically baroque. The foreboding inhabitants that you think are dead, reveal to you the gentle ways in which they are very much alive.
I fell in love with it. Even in my miserable state.
On New Year’s Eve, we took a magical hike around the Barker Dam wilderness, followed by a nice hot, spicy bowl of soup at a tiny understaffed Thai restaurant in town. I tried to rally, but I was hurting. I’d given my all to Joshua Tree, and I only made it to 10:45 that night. I went to bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve for the first time IN MY LIFE.
The rest of the kids partied without me.
I woke up on New Year’s Day, still sick, but more than anything – worried. Really worried.
I was actually worried that all of this crappy misfortune over my break – being sick (again), not getting the time I wanted in Michigan with my family, not making it until midnight on New Year’s Eve (!) – was going to poison my new year.
I really, honest to god thought that.
So – here I am, SLAPPING MYSELF IN THE FACE. I’m looking at my pictures of Joshua Tree and reminding myself that I, and my life, and my year to come, are all like the desert:
Signs of life are there. The magic is always present.
The beautiful things will reveal themselves. Nothing is given up easily – especially not on New Year’s.
Not on Day 1. Not at midnight on Day 1.
I am sucking it up, and getting started. I am going to make some beautiful things happen this year (but first, I’m going to get better, for f#@%’s sake).
See all our pictures of our (sick) Christmas 2016 festivities here.
See all our pictures of New Year’s Eve in Joshua Tree National Park here.