Unpacking Is For Sissies

Sadie Damascus lets everything rest for a few days after getting home from the Playa. I understand this. It’s the alkali dust. It’s on everything and it won’t go anywhere if you disturb it. Best to let it fade away. That takes about a year, what’s one or two days going to mean at that rate?

Add to that the spectacle of having your gear bulging out your car windows and straining against the tie-downs on the roof, especially if you have a bike that froze up in the mud that came after the Monday rains. I watched agile riders become oxen after their knobby tires sucked up the prehistoric dinosaur eating goo, so thick the tire wouldn’t go round anymore. The only way to ride the bike was to drag it behind you while expressing rage.

It’s not popular, I accept it: most people come home and tear the car apart, bringing all the luggage, garbage and verbage inside, maybe even putting it away, or at least starting the first of twenty loads of laundry. This time: No. All I had time for was a shamefully long shower in which I shaved my body hair using a particularly dangerous double-edged instrument I found somewhere, or did someone give it to me as a gift? Believe me, coming from a disposable culture, the razor has some menace to it just because of its weight. I only cut myself once, in the spot you’d expect. But scrubbing and rinsing and scouring and steaming wouldn’t get this alkali off. In my dry acid bath, I needed to debrede. And after a week of multiple contact abrasions and contusions, dust storms and indignities, I was pretty cavalier about changing razor blades and scraping off those cellular layers in spite of being slippery when wet.

There were five stacks, one for each citizen in our republic: Paul’s, containing the bike he was convinced had been stolen right out from under him, but in fact had been borrowed and dumped at the Ranger Station. Typical; Nash’s, consisting of his tent which would not fit into the bag provided. Tent manufacturers taunt us in this way; Kevin’s, just shoes. He might not strike you as this efficient, but the shoes do not lie; Michael’s, with a very bad forgive us our shwinn in annoying orange, weighing approximately a ton, the unboxable, but, due to duct tape, boxed entertainer shade houses, an unfortunately hilarious product name for a structure that keeps out 80% of the sunlight and 0% of the rain, and a wooden… element that he found on the playa and made us drag home. It’s… interesting; David’s, the tidiest packing on earth so we don’t mind the fact it’s seven times the amount dragged out by everyone else. But who owns the blue tarp? Who was eating from this fake wooden salad bowl? What about the Cathedral of the Wholly Sacred, now in itty bitty pieces? And who made the decision to purchase, then ignore completely, a )box( of merlot?

After taking it out and sorting it meticulously, I do the bone-aching thing and load it back into the truck for delivery. Tomorrow I’ll throw it off the back, just like the lumpers do on 2nd Street with all that romaine lettuce. Where it lands a puff of dust will come up and we’ll walk through it like eau de cologne: o desert. o salty sea.

Behind my ears and at my wrists, I’m wearing my ordeal at my pulse points.

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