After your ex became your stalker, you moved from Northern California to a 2-bedroom apartment eighty miles southeast of Los Angeles where you looked out the front window while drinking coffee and watched one of the meth addicts who slept in the nearby river bank walk along the street commuters travelled to get to the freeway. Seeking safety and a fresh start, you moved here to the intersection between societal fringe—illegal drug operations, Hell’s Angels, people who want to live off the grid—and urban sprawl—bedroom communities of cookie-cutter houses for faith-based families or retirees on limited incomes. If you walk out the back door toward the valley to lounge under one of the pool cabanas, you might think you’re at an expensive spa instead of an apartment complex. But on the road, the drivers in their pickup trucks with monster tires, “Pro Gun, Pro God, Pro Life” bumper stickers, and a set of rubber testicles hanging from the hitch remind you this isn’t Canyon Ranch. In the checkout line at Albertsons where people go to buy milk and beer and rotisserie chickens, those wearing MAGA hats stand next to dark-faced soldiers in camo or first-generation Latino immigrants. The juxtaposition of all these things could create conflict if the overbearing sun and its 110-degree temps didn’t diminish everyone’s energy.
To find safety, you moved here.
In those first few months, you were determined to leave, sure that you had made yet another nomadic error. But then you started writing again and while deep in a creative trance, you forgot to move. At the end of your first year, a roadrunner passed in front of you as you walked your dog one morning. You chased the bird unable to catch him but caught yourself smiling. As you turned back for home, you passed a prickly pear cactus that had exploded with delicate yellow blooms and realized that new life grows—even in deserts.