They were shocked when I told them this was the first time I’d seen a cactus in real life.
She laughed at me,
and shifted her bag on her shoulder.
I gawked in awe as we walked deeper into the canyon,
The clunk of our bulky shoes echoing into the rustling branches.
I kept stopping to look at these colossal cactuses,
“You can touch it, you know?”
he smiled at me, squeezing my hand.
I did, and pricked myself,
I felt like a little kid.
By the time we reached the bottom,
my forehead was surfaced with a sheer sheen of sweat,
while the others seemed barely out of breath.
The heat had taken a toll out of me,
but the two of them were hardly upset.
Maybe I was a little out of place with these L.A. kids,
they’re made for heat.
They’re kids of the sun and the desert.
He wants to take me there, out to New Mexico.
I have this romanticized idea of what it will be like,
laying out in the back of a truck, looking up at the stars.
The air will feel crisper, clearer, cooler, cleaner.
There wasn’t any grass in the canyon.
I’m not sure why this was so surprising.
The ground was red rock and dirt and dust and weeds.
We picnicked anyway,
our giggles and the tapping of excited feet carrying themselves on the breeze.
Even under the bed covers,
I could feel that the climate was different,
sunlight shimmering through the skylight.
The plants in the backyard even, the steep hill that rose directly up behind.
He smiled back at me,
Over his shoulder,
I was taking pictures out the window as we drove home from the airport.
Palm trees mesmerized me, making squirming shadows on the parched pavement.
We went on a driving tour that first day,
Tires skidding on the freeway past expanses,
Scorched by past brush fire.
We locked eyes —
brown into blue into brown into blue and back again.
We didn’t need any words.