I was in Death Valley last week for three days, leaving at one in the morning Monday night–that’s a weird sequence of words isn’t it?–sleeping in my car at a gas station at about 4:30, parked between a pair of big rigs, privately anxious that the guy rummaging through the dumpster twenty feet away wouldn’t ask me any questions.
I didn’t bring any wood and you’re not allowed to gather in Death Valley NP anyway–I don’t think I could have found any that first night when I camped on the northern end at about 100 feet elevation. I think the site was called Mesquite Springs, but I can’t remember. The next night I camped at around 8200 feet, just below the trailhead for Telescope Peak, the biggest mountain in the park.
Anyway, I didn’t have a fire and so each night was forced into my small tent at around nine o’clock where I read until my neck hurt and did my best to get as drunk as I could off a single cup of wine from the cheap box I purchased from Trader Joe’s. (There’s has got to be better camp drinks I could muster, right?) Without realizing it, each night I faced my tent east and so was woken up each morning by a strong desert sun tapping me on the shoulder.
I’ve never been very good at waking up. It’s the laziest part of my personality and I really do think if anyone could do some good from a year in the service it’d be me, for that reason alone (making my bed every morning would probably be the other). I work late and I work at a very sociable job full of sociable people who are pretty much always going out and doing things. Are all jobs like that? Am I just generalizing? No matter. I work till ten most nights and I’ve made it a goal of mine to be up by eight at the latest each day, giving me a good six hours to take care of business before I work at two. It had been a struggle. Basically I was trying to break a lifetime habit of sleeping in. Sleeping in is supposed to be a luxury but somehow I made it a regular ritual.
But since I’ve been back I’ve been up and wide awake at 7:30 each morning. Last night was the first night I stayed up late–after work I went to my friend’s place to watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones and Dr. Who. I didn’t get in bed until two but was still up at 7:45, though I think I’ve come down with a cold and so I slept in another 45 minutes. It feels fantastic if you don’t mind me saying so. I’ve been up for several hours today already. I edited a chapter, I made breakfast, I’m almost done with this post and I still have more than two hours before I go to work. I’m wondering what I should do next? Perhaps the library if there is one open, though I’m sort of frightened by the fine I no doubt owe. Maybe I should find a nice place under the sun and get more reading in. Or maybe I should just take a nap.
© 2013 Christopher Dart