Myers Flat, CA
It was already raining hard when I left the next morning. I followed a short trail to the visitor center adjacent to the flooded campground. Inside, a glass case contained all of the animals endemic to the park: bobcats, owls, black bears, raccoons. I perused the exhibit slowly like a poolside tourist waiting for a cocktail; I knew I’d be there for some time and I had nowhere else to be. The tropical image faded as I glanced outside at the dull, lowlying clouds.
Strange things happen on the night of the solstice. Six months earlier, on the longest day of the year, I had cycled slowly around Vancouver’s seawall before arriving home to discover that my live-in girlfriend had been lived out. Today, on the shortest, I sat in the forest with Chris, a recent college dropout who had crossed the country on bicycle only to find himself more lost than when he began. ”It’s appropriate that I reach my depths here, on the solstice,” he said, gesturing at the dense cathedral of redwoods. We sat and talked for an hour outside under the visitor center’s awning. When we were done, he hugged me intensely, sobbing into my shoulder. We left together on the occasion of a break in the rain and he cycled off, his hooting voice echoing through the trees.
The bumper stickers say ”Myers Flat is where it’s at.” ”Yeah,” a woman recounted anecdotally, ”Myers Flat is where the meth is at.” I saw no meth but lots of alcohol in the only bar in town, where I spent the early evening waiting for a woman who had offered a roof for the night. In the bar, I watched as the TV flipped between Fox News and football, and I argued about politics in light spirits. When I said I was vegetarian, I was served two pieces of bread, a tub of peanut butter, and a jar of jam. I didn’t mind, I needed the protein.
Later that evening, in the trailer park, she baked ganja cookies for Christmas presents and I watched the eclipse through the clouds.