A Fleeting Panic In Red Rock Canyon
Running through the coarsely paved trail—-chunky granules of sand and jagged, protruding red rocks who have been pensively buried underneath the Earth for too long, as it were—as if they grew weary of the pressurized molding underground, and in an uprising defiance, thought themselves better suited for the harsher but more adventurous polishings under the sun. These cataclysmic formations were more of a personal statement than the gradual results of tectonic movements.
It wasn’t exactly hometown, in the sense that where you stood was nearly six-thousand feet above sea level—which really shouldn’t have been anything of a major obstacle, but given your lungs have long been conditioned to the superfluously abundant air of the great, flat plains (a shame, really), your time spent (less than two days) in the new heights did not suffice to fully acclimatize.
Quickened movements became a toil; each step forced you to further dismiss the nimbleness of your formerly established agility. In spite of self-proclaimed quick-feet, your lungs grew heavy, constricted, and became exasperated all too swiftly to render the distance traveled rewarding.
You did not wish to stop, but in effort to remain physically frugal, you slowed down to a light jog, for as frighteningly ambivalent as the distance ahead appeared, this suddenly ensued notions of adrift-ness and fear were not going to resolve themselves until your senses have received their proper consolation.
It was quiet, and the sun had not too long ago retreated its last radiance behind distant, western peaks. You were stuck in the aftermath—a vast, silent solitude of the twilight, the graying, vague in-between. It seemed, in the absence of direct daylight, Nature’s milieu had turned off its unseen switch, and muted its multifaceted acoustics.
Normally, you’d have savored this moment as a rare gift: a precious time of reflection—it is only in its absence, could one truly feel Nature’s touch intimately—its solemn, orderly vibrations beneath what appears to be senseless chaos.
However, in the company of another, your priorities had, without your own active knowledge, shifted.
“I will meet you the other way around.” she mentioned, before you split your ways at the fork, separated by a sizable and lengthy rock formation.
“Let’s. See you on top.” You replied with certainty—the place was not obscure enough to lose track of one another, so you thought.
Having soon traversed around the mighty obstacle that split the earlier straight trail into two, standing atop the inclined terrain, after having surveilled the ground below again and again, you came to realize that she was no where to be found. You trotted your way back to the fork, upon not seeing anyone there, you then pushed the same way back to the alleged rendezvous; no one in sight.
And in a very-unlike-you instant, you panicked:
Am I lost, or did she lose her way? Encounter with a malicious stranger in the wilderness? In harms way? Large predators in the path?? No, no, no way. The biggest “beast” around here can only be that tiny brown hare you saw just moments ago.
Shit, she could have just left and made her way back to the car and abandoned you here—for reasons not known to you. What would they be if she did?
It was out of these quickly compounding, irrational frights, that you involuntarily set out kicking dust, ran and ran, until you were helplessly gasping for the air that which your cursed lungs failed to hold on to. Alone, you would have only sought after peace of mind, but something about having a travel companion changed your subconscious motives, and thus needs—by then, your urgent need was to track her down.
This was not you and how you respond to things—you became well aware of this in the midst of frantic searching: you rarely ever panic. Calmness through calamity is a skill you prided yourself on. Were you afraid of being alone? No it can’t be: solitude has been, on and off, your long-time, indispensable friend. Perhaps it was centuries of conditioning by the intolerable affairs of the human civilization—engraining deep inside you a litany of incurable attributes of a social, pack animal, one that is obligated by its immutable nature to stick to its compadres, that drove you excessively concerned of her whereabouts.
It is only natural to be worried, isn’t it?
As insensitive as it might have been, you were, to a large extent, as worried about finding her as you were worried about ensuring yourself—confirming that you weren’t being ruthlessly abandoned. It was ridiculous, but it was the cursed and damned truth.
Why should they have crept up on you at such an arbitrary and inconvenient occasion—distant memories of having been frequently forsaken: walking down busy town center streets, past the colorful amalgam of street vendors and merchants, who became too tragically calloused over the course their own survivals, to help a five-year-old boy’s unguided quest in search of his father.
Visits to playmates’ houses—orderly, well-kept, warm—displaying all signs of wholesome families; they might not have been entirely functional, but nonetheless, they were together. The kids didn’t have to grow accustomed to having no adults around for extended periods of time, with slips of cash to work things out on their own juvenile accords.
Bloody hell, cash was enough. Better than none. You had a good childhood.
You refuse to place serious blame on or express grim dissatisfaction at anyone; no one truly owes you anything, nor would anyone ever will.
It was all too silly. It didn’t bother you as a child, but why has it implanted such latent insecurities that would only surface to haunt you in your rare moments of vulnerability?
You’ve relentlessly watched and learned from the old fashioned men in your life, the efficient talent of controlling your emotions—by simply not keeping in touch with them. It’s wrong, but more importantly, it works. As long as you could tap into the intrinsic emotions of your surroundings, you are satisfied with leaving those of your own unexamined.
You hate it when your strenuously constructed, layered onion gets peeled. It’s not a matter of rigid, conventional masculinity (a subject matter better saved for a entirely separate story), instead, you are by experience, simply stronger in detachment.
It was no time to reason—there was a need to be met—a person to be found. Regardless of physical discomfort, you had to instinctively move forward, all the while panting desperately—the sun has already set, leaving the trails vacant and eerily still; somehow, because of this, your intensified respirations, as drastic as they were, were drowned out by the immensity of silence being exuded all around.
You had begun drawing out contingency plans (drawing out ideas from your totally ridiculous but self-convictingly serious street-smart wit chambers):
Okay…go back to starting point and check on the car—if the car’s there, you either got your wires crossed and missed your rough point of convergence, or she is in trouble. If the car’s there…if the car’s there, run back to the trail and search once more. If she doesn’t pop up in a hour, make an attempt to contact authorities. It’s foolish but it’s better than being sorry in hindsight. Do not take chances at reluctance if you have a hunch that someone is in danger.
If the car isn’t there, she simply left. Okay. Your keys and supplies and cash are in the car. So you won’t have those…How to get home? Hitch hike? No. That’s gone down the drain decades ago, thanks to the fuckers who kidnapped unwary road-warriors and kept them in basements and abused them for years. Oh hey! You’ve got your wallet. Thank God. Okay. Okay. Spend all the money on the card. You’ll make it back without much peril.
If the car isn’t there, someone could have kidnapped her and drove away in her car…shit, ugh okay, don’t go there just yet.
After having gone back and forth the same way two times, you decided to make it to high ground, but return on a slightly different path—one that somewhat ran parallel to the by then beaten one. All the while. your thoughts raced in a frenzy, they shouldn’t have. On the run, on the search, for what was absolutely paranoid nonsense.
Soon, without much of a catharsis, her silhouette appeared in the near distance.
Before getting closer, you slowed down, caught your breath, and took a knee (of the mind). You had to appear untroubled—after all, it would have been all too laughable to turn up stirred and out of breath, as if during the few brief minutes you had lost track of each other, you had gone through a drastic and unnecessary whirlwind, which you absolutely did.
No way anyone was going to find out what an anxious fruit you could be.
Closer, you found her in an odd configuration—facing what appeared to be no more than a patch of shrubs, with her shoes off and held in her right hand, and sneaking onward slowly in her white socks; it always surprised you how she didn’t mind getting her clothes soiled or dusty.
“Shhhhhhhhh!” She beat you to the first word, and by the tone of it, appeared rather agitated by your presence.
“Your footsteps are too loud, you are going to scare the animals away.”
“Um, I don’t see any around here.”
“Ugh..trust me, they are here. They are just hiding because you are being loud.” She was, in an almost child-like but determined attempt to silently approach and catch a better view at some rodents who were nearby.
Just like that, all the former panic had become suddenly, absurdly irrelevant.
Recalling past events, as well as ventures, I frequently run into trouble in giving full recounts of my experiences in a wholesome (or objective) manner, for doing so has proven to be too painstakingly a process to render storytelling, personally, worthwhile.
Should it be worth your while? I know not, but I am aware of my institutions in personal narrative—honesty in fragments, for I only remember everything in fragments—discretized, small instances that shine more factual lights on the emotional states of a character than the whole picture could. This short piece spans over the course of a few minutes, but the fact that so much had gone through the narrator’s mind in this brief period of time, cause the conflict, one that which I hope is relatable.
Thus, under my care, if an attempt were made to recollect an entire memory all at once, the “complete” story, thought over and completely written in one stroke, would be filled with lies.
I’m not a writer-writer. I try to write with a fair degree of emotional candidness–and that is all I care for at this particular stage in life (so…READ MY SHIT PLEASE).