I have been here a couple of weeks now. Yesterday I hiked the Arnold Rim Trail. Beforehand I went to the logging museum at the foot of the trail and two older women, probably in their eighties, insisted I volunteer as a docent. I apologized, said I’d love to do something like that, but I had to find a job first. They weren’t hiring. Of course, they insisted I volunteer so I could forge connections but it just sounded like time I should be spending doing something else.
There’s a mouse in my house. There’s a lazy cat at my feet. My skin is dry and sunburnt. I almost went to Twelfth Night at a local vineyard but I didn’t want to go alone. I asked the lady in the trailer but she didn’t have any money, and she just returned from Fourth of July at the farm where she also went to a horse race and saw John’s horse come in second. I love horse racing. They didn’t invite me because I’m “not wanted on the farm”. I asked my mom why and she said she just knew that and nothing else but I don’t need anyone to tell me it’s because John thinks I’m negative and lost. To him only marketable trades are anything more than hobbies and wastes of time. Photography and writing from me are to him as pointless as an online degree or a trip to Florida. I think he considers everything I’m passionate about as a pure of waste of time, and honestly I don’t know what he thinks. Maybe he is bitter I ever fought against his direction four years ago when I was turned from Portland to empty promises on the east coast. Either way, we will never see eye to eye and he doesn’t want me there because of this misunderstanding. I hate being dependent on ignorant people. I hate being in a culture that prizes business over art, and where art often is only a business. And by art I mean art, and literature, and science, and anything that is rarely considered worthy of someone’s time if it is not first and foremost marketable.
There is this little town fifteen miles from Murphys called Copperopolis. It had a new town square built a mile from the old town square about a decade ago, and then no one could afford to continue funding it so half of the buildings are deserted. It still looks like a scene out of Pleasantville, with Mariash Carey playing out of the loudspeakers in the little dog park in the middle, a lively BBQ grill, and coffee shop where couples watch soccer and drink Coronas to get away front he ninety degree heat. The old town square is a shabby saloon with a brick arch across the street, a cubicle size post office and a small garden and flower shop. I marked it off my list of towns to visit. This time I had tacos on special at the coffee shop, ate them as fast as I could in the scorching patio with my dog, and then left. That’s when I first went over to Arnold and the logging museum, an extravagant log cabin of small dioramas of logging equipment and old photographs and life-size models. I read beside Arnold Lake and tried to relax but honestly the heat continually turns me catatonic and I just want to sit inside under the fan and scratch my dry skin and drink ice water. Someone on Instagram says “yes, but it is dry heat”. Oh shut up. I grew up in moist eastern Texas, and I know the difference, it doesn’t make this dry, waterless 90-100 degree weather any less unbearable. I keep a close eye on my dog to keep her hydrated but also to gauge the heat. She insists on being carried through parts of the Arnold Rim Trail, the pebbles to hot on her paws. Her tongue flashing in and out of her mouth and eyes staring up at me like she’s stoned. So there it is, my proof that this catatonic feeling is vindicated.
I love the night though. It’s still warm but relaxing. The sky fades from peach to mango to light graying blue and the moon shines bright, followed by Mars and a few stars and then the sky is one giant IMAX movie, shifting slowly to my right as the earth spins left and I stare up at it connecting stars from my space app, and listening to the owls and coyotes. This is the best part of the day. The night. I don’t know if anyone is ever going to respond to my job applications, or if I’ll ever have a real job. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just not suited for anything serious. Maybe no one can take me seriously enough for a career, and it’s apparent even over a resume. However, these things matter less when it is late and everyone is asleep and the temperature is perfect and space is almost within reach.