It started at lunch, on a hike through the astonishing Joshua Tree National Park.
Those starkly beautiful trees, the spiky limbs reaching skyward toward the pure blue desert sky. Everywhere you turn, there are gigantic piles of coffee-brown boulders scattered on the desert floor. Some of the rocks look like monstrous loaves of unbaked bread. Some look like God's idea of modern art.
I am eating a tuna wrap, sitting with my husband beside one such monster sculpture when it starts.
It's not the Joshua tree that does it. It's the prickly leaves of the live oaks -- growing in abundance around the picnnic table where we sit. Suddenly I am "streaming." Shifting back and forth, sitting side by side there with my husband eating lunch, and then sitting side by side with Sister Teresa, beneath the live oaks on the hillside behind the convent.
She is telling me to write. She is telling me to write the early history of my life with Antonie. She is saying it might help me.
Writing does help. And maybe the reason I am feeling so incredibly torn in two today is that I haven't written in several days. Writers who don't write start to go a little nuts.
I finish the sandwich. I sit there, just staring out into the extrarordinary desert. I try to calm myself. I try to tell myself that I am here in California for a week's vacation. I want to enjoy this visit. I want to enjoy this present moment.
I keep trying to tell myself to enjoy the day, to focus on being HERE, NOW, here at this astonishingly beautiful, one of a kind, landscape.
But nothing helps. No matter what I tell myself, that awful feeling persists.
We walk for a while, and then we climb onto two gigantic rocks. My husband and I have the same idea: we will sit there in the desert sun for a while and just meditate.
It helps. I sink cross-legged into the rock, let my eyes settle on one spot in the distance.
I stop fighting it. I feel the immediacy of the sun, the rock, the air, the slight breeze. The quiet settles around me. And finally, the torn-in-two feeling passes.
Twenty minutes later, we are walking again, and photographing the golden teddy bear cholla and the spiky prickly pear cactus.