I have to say I am proud of this sandwich we had for lunch today.
First, I am not a peanut butter person and when I learned that peanut butter would be a staple of our new adventure camping and living out of a van, I wasn't too excited about it. My partner loves peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches and listed the virtues of the humble peanut butter sandwich. I didn't fall for it, at all. Every time he suggested the sandwich for our lunch or snack, I tried to steer the discussion to another choice. Something more exciting.
Yesterday, it was my turn to make lunch at a park we stopped at along the way to our destination. I had limited choices. Four avocados, some organic whole wheat bread, bananas, honey and peanut butter. Then. I remember the Nutella, I had tucked away for breakfast toast. That did it! Adding the Nutella uplifted the sad peanut butter.
I happily ate my sandwich while watching the baby boomers walk their dogs in the park. After lunch, we continued to head inland where the temperatures were predicted to reach 96 and ended up hitting 100. My feet swelled from the heat and my mood turned grumpy as we drove through miles of flat bleach blonde cattle country with more windmills farming than cattle. The faded color of the pastures with black specks of cattle, hills bare in the distance baking in the sun, and dozens of beer bottles tossed over ranch fences did not inspire reveling in the romanticism of the west. Littering causes me to lose faith in humankind, my brows tighten and I am reminded how much of a menace humans can be. Pulling into the Walmart parking lot closing in on our destination to look at screen room tents and pick up two salads sealed the mood. I looked down at my feet walking through waves of heat and human debris, discarded masks, gloves, snack paper wrappers like a garbage ticker tape parade. Why? Why do people throw their garbage on the ground or over a fence? I will never understand it.
Back on the freeway inching the rest of the way, I thought about the county I have lived in for almost forty years. How a big part of the community I lived in for almost forty years has worked so hard to create a natural utopia and has done a pretty good job of it while forgetting the working class who do the clean up and heavy labor. How communities can neglect to provide affordable housing and fair wages and benefits for their working people year after year hits even harder when there is a pandemic or disaster. It takes two jobs making at least $15 a hour to live in a rental where I come from and that's with little left over for savings, vacations and any kind of fun money. Throw in childcare or taking care of your friends and relatives who need help too, during normal times it is a struggle, during a fire or pandemic, it is a nightmare. No wonder the majority of the population in our area getting COVID are Latino who bear the brunt of our sins not addressing these issues.
At 55, losing everything in the recession and than again during the Tubbs Fire, I cannot afford to live in the community I have loved and wrote about since I was fifteen years old. I am living in a vehicle. I choose to call my new state of living an adventure, but many would not. And the anxiety and distress it would cause them and does cause them is unconscionable.
Reaching our destination, we decided to go to the lake to swim. It was melting hot. I changed into my shorts. We drove the van to the water's edge and I waded into the cool waters. Lying on my back, I let the waves lift and carry me. I felt young again. Like a teenager gobbling up a hot summer. It wasn't a peaceful lake or a pristine body of water. Jet skis roared through with the assault of petroleum fumes, only two abandoned ducks dared to brave the waters while young people sat on the back of tailgates hanging out and listening to music. It felt and looked like a Mad Max movie with all the weekend warriors and half clad people, but I threw myself into the mayhem and felt what it is to be human. Messy, irreverent with a joy for fun and living no matter the cost.