I hitchhiked from Phoenix to San Diego one winter night with a boot knife in my pocket and a cardboard sign that said San Diego Please. The driver preached and prophesied to me the whole way, in hopes that I’d find Jesus somewhere in the Sonora Desert on Route 8 near Yuma. I wasn’t much of a talker. So he kept on witnessing, figuring probably he was planting a seed. We crested the ridge and came down Harbison Canyon and the city lights spread out in front of us.
There were palm trees waving and rolling mountain hills. I called up Rachel and Stephen on a pay phone and then sat down on the curb. First thing Rachel said was I looked scary. I don’t know what she meant by that but hugged her anyway.
Next day we went down to Tijuana to get tattoos of Africa. Señor Paco had long red hair, a long goatee, and a bullring in his nose. He grinned at us, his gold tooth glinting in the dim light from the naked bulb hanging from the ceiling. “Are the needles clean?” I asked. “Yep,” Señor Paco said.
A few days later, Stephen and Rachel drove me north to Los Angeles. Then we just drove around until dark, taking random roads into the mountains, looking at the fields, now a gray color shimmering across the rolling landscape fading.
That was 20 years ago in December.