“What’s your best Moab story?”
We’re five hours on the road and my little brother is getting desperate. I’ve resorted to my old fallback, the Lady Gaga pandora station; he’s apparently resorting to conversation.
How much do I tell him? Is this my baby brother, whose diapers I changed and whose cartoons I censored? Or is he finally a peer, a partner in crime- a true road trip buddy? I mean, he is taller than me now- that counts for something, right?
Moab has had a pull on me since I first saw my mom cry on slickrock. She was very pregnant with my future road trip buddy and we were stranded in the middle of a biblical storm, of the sort that cause those legendary desert flash-floods. Don’t ask me what a pregnant lady was doing out there- or any of us, for that matter. My mom works in mysterious ways.
In short, I was terrified, she was terrified, my grandpa and other brother were terrified, but for some reason my memory skips from that snapshot (the rain, the rocks, the terror) to one of us sitting happily in the back of our station wagon, munching our way through a shocking quantity of skittles while a corresponding rainbow bloomed over the red rocks. Moab has remained that way in my mind- awesomely powerful when upset, but inevitably too beautiful and too magnetic to stay scared of for long.
So I’ve kept going back, and every time I do those rocks speak to me. I could tell my brother about my friends getting married under the arches, about the weak beer and semi-legal campsites, about the bonks, scrapes, cactuses, tears, vomit, hangovers, and that persistent, pervasive red sand. I could tell him about the sunflower-plastered trailer we once crammed 15 people into or the tents with only stars for company, but should I?
Lady Gaga offers some sage advice: “can’t find my drink or man, where are my keys I lost my phone- what’s going on on the floor?”
I shrug and spill it. He is taller than me now, after all.
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