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          The empty beige desert rolls past the window, just hills, rocks, and sand. It extends and expands and that’s all there is, except for a few dusty bushes and twisted trees.  But they look disconsolate and withdrawn, contorted in their hermitude, a blemish upon nature, and aware of it.

          Slowly the sun sets and its brightness dims, and dims more because of the strange desert haze.  Its purples, oranges, yellows, and all the colors in between blend and sit atop one another in vague horizontal layers.  They are soft and pastelly and sad, endlessly sad, and I cannot figure out why. Why are they sad? Is it just the condition of the sunset, a slow, steady march towards the inevitable death of the day?  

          The sun sets on its vertical axis while its colors stack in their horizontal layers.  The desert flashes by left to right and I zoom down the straight black ribbon running flat through this bumpy place and I can’t help but feel I’m just moving through some sort of overlayed grid, being taken for a ride.  Nothing feels natural, it all feels dead, or worse, that it never was alive. But perhaps that’s just the desert and I.

          The cheap upholstered seats of the bus make my back and legs sweat.  The AC is turned too high and chills my sweat, and buttoning my thin shirt does little to help.  I try opening the window, hoping the hot desert air will mitigate the frigid interior, but the man behind me slams it shut with a skinny, overly hairy arm.  That is all I see of him. I don’t turn around. I don’t try to reopen the window. I cross my arms and hunch up my shoulders and squeeze myself in a strange sort of hug.  

          I close my eyes and try to sleep.  I can’t sleep. Instead the forest is on my mind.  I am sitting next to a small stream that winds past a large boulder.  We had a picnic on that boulder once, my brothers and I. The ribbon of the water slides like moving glass over the round pebbles beneath it, glistening in the skinny beams of sunlight that manage to penetrate this thick green world.  The large leafs of skunk cabbage and the curled heads of fickle ferns sprout endlessly along the water’s muddy edges, drooping lethargically under their own contented weight. Trees, thick and sturdy and ranging from my height to impossibly tall envelope me, their millions of fluttering and waving leaves reducing my range of vision to just a couple of yards.  It is almost claustrophobic. But it is not. It is warm and close and comforting, a womb nestling and coddling me.

          But I am not in the forests of New England, USA, I am on an Egged bus alone being driven through the Negev Desert of Israel in the Middle East and how I ended up here I do not know.  Something to do with following my dream and with the stars as my witness did I follow my dream. But now I’d like to wake up.

          We pull into the bus station, which is as scummy and dreary and shrouded in a thick mist of underworld debauchery as every bus station.  It is a blurry mural of the unwanted fringes of disparate worlds colliding. Some tall long lanky lean maybe Russians speak in their Draculaic language which always sounds like their slurring their words.  Their translucent skin frightens me as I shuck off my absurdly large backpack and slide down the rough cement wall to sit on the ground which disgusts part of me but not enough of me. I stare at them unintentionally, and they glance at me, scaring me into a smaller ball of myself.   

          A bus idles deeply, its fumes vibrating in their own wavy heat as they tumble out of the exhaust and cloud the place in a gross humidity.  The driver stands next to the bus, smoking, speaking to the Transylvanians, who though I know are speaking Hebrew still sound as if Cyrillic letters are tumbling out of their mouths, past their blood sucking fangs.  But they board the bus without harming me, the driver exhales a last cloud of mind numbing smoke which writhes and twists and floats as if bewitched up into the unhappily glowing night sky, the bus reverses with a screech, shutters forward and it and it’s roar are gone.  I’m left with a dormitory of sleeping buses and one man on a bench. Half drunk Coca-Cola bottles litter the floor like a mine field, and a skinny Ethiopian walks amongst them making sounds into his hand held mobile device that I also do not know. A trashy American reality TV shows flashes and squawks out of the screen mounted over the minimarket, and though I detest those shows it is in English and I find it difficult to look away.  

          My next bus comes and I heave my home back onto my back and board.  The bright sterile lights wash away the filth of the station, replacing it with - what, exactly, I’m not sure.  If the station was disgusting then at least it was in a somewhat organic sense. This is just numbing, plastic, technological, inhuman.  I sit for the circuitous route through the cheap lights of Eilat and arrive at Nowhere, a rocky thin strand of beach with caravans permanently parked along its edge and orange street lights.  I scan for an empty place on the beach, spot one that’s flat enough, swing-walk my stiff legs over to it and drop my heavy load.

          There are lights, many lights on the shore across, and lights behind me and the night in between is somehow deeper because of it.  It is disorienting. I start to open my tent because it is night and I should wake up tomorrow which means I should sleep now. I open the tent then sit by the water and hum a tune whose words I do not know, and the small waves and my quiet humming compete for space in my head and it is only those two competing and it is a pleasant few moments.  Then others start competing and the humming stops.

          I feel like calling my mom but I don’t.  The small waves keep coming from the glowing distant shore, to here, the shore of Nowhere, Home of Nothing.  I am neither tired nor energized. Probably I’ll fall asleep if I lie down and tell myself to. Then I’ll wake up tomorrow.  

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