"Did you SEE that!?"
Bill, the amateur astronomer field guide for the night, nearly fell over himself in the dusty lot behind the RV park. He was waiving ineffectively in the dark towards the space where a somewhat unsubstantial shooting star was no longer visible.
"Did you SEE how fast that was?! But that's not it! That's how fast WE'RE moving! We're travelling around the sun at 19 miles per second. We just hit something no bigger than a grain of sand at 67,000 miles per hour and it oxidized in our atmosphere! THAT's how you should think of that!"
Perspective has always been a theme for me out in west Texas. From the the first time I looked up from my Gameboy to watch the land expand and horizons become endless along I-10, sitting in the back of my dad's conversion van on that interminable stretch from Junction to Fort Stockton. Again in high school with a girlfriend, childhood ending and teetering on the edge of infinite adulthood. Again and again and again in college: pushing back roads, pondering ruins, sleeping alone on the banks of the Rio Grande, drinking with vaqueros in tin shed bars in ghost towns drifting through their latest cycle of decay, reading and believing too much Cormac McCarthy.
This was the first place that imprinted that sense of scale and isolation that is simultaneously humbling and empowering. Nothing survives out here; the crumbling structures of countless past generations still baking in the sun to remind you of that. So to be alive out here, even as a passing visitor, feels like beating the odds. Like you're somehow winning.
We won't have time this trip to revisit those places of deepest memories. This is a surface level drive-by, absorbing surface level weirdness in the safety of RV parks and small town main streets. But the feeling is still there, pouring down from the surrounding mountains and pooling in between the old and new relics of desert dwellers, that feeling of existing in spite of some grander plan that says you shouldn't.