On my return to the desert, I hiked dusty trails up mountains and through vast valley expanses, walking in the sunshine and in the rain and as the wind blew cold through our jackets, over rocks and through canyons and sliding down muddy inclines, under “skies that pull you into infinity, like the ocean,” as Anne Lamott describes it. I listened to coyotes sing songs of dusk and I sat on a rock as a bobcat passed casually in front of me (!!!), and I explored a cliffside cave 2,200 feet above sprawling miles of untouched wilderness covered in cactus forests and squat underbrush. And I returned to a mountain south of the city; with Bon Iver murmuring his melancholy melody in my ears, I watched the sunset—the sun sinking below a distant range, the sky set aflame—bright orange dancing with deep blues and pinks, the mountains surrounding the city cast in a rose glow.
An American flag hangs over a painting in their modest apartment. They’ve been in America only a few months now. She knows a bit of English, and I know zero Arabic or Kurdish, so we do our best to communicate with hand gestures and Google translate. She’s taking an English class and shows me a notebook of the words she’s learning. She tells me the Kurdish word for flower. And then she tells me that I am a flower. She’s a wife, a mom, a woman just like me.