After the towers, I went to the desert. I fled. I retreated.
There was a blank slate of banality. The rebelliousness of conformity and domesticity. Rebellious to my nature, that is. Mall living was as far from my childhood as I could imagine.
Throughout my adolescence, I had a penchant for wearing masks, building personas, but until that point those things were incidental. Simple acts of subduing parts of myself, as opposed to building a whole framework.
In the desert, I embraced a completely new identity. I worked in an office, like on the TV. Awkward birthdays and team building and cubicle and completely artificial interactions. I felt like Margret Meade, studying some distant genetic relative and being amused by vague similarities.
We went to Chili’s a lot. I got large salads. I pretended to be excited about people’s hobbies. I didn’t talk about my art.
I didn’t, as it might seem, feel contempt for those around me. I was calm in the desert. I was aware of the liminality of my time there. I enjoyed it, to a degree. Still, I felt thoroughly disconnected from everyone around me. I felt like a tiny alien riding in a human. Or maybe a demon possessing my own body. Nothing affected me on any level. I was numb, disassociated, derealized, and on autopilot.
I really liked breakfast burritos, though.
Unlike my time in the desert, which was bland and uninteresting and soul-crushing in its convention, my exodus was profoundly intense and almost comically dramatic. A three-day cross-country drive in a huge moving van with my girlfriend and the man she was cheating on me with, but that’s another story.
I hate the desert. No, I don’t think I can summon enough emotion to really hate it. I’m not going back to the desert. Not if I can help it.
But I do miss the burritos.