A writer's observations about creative life on the road.

The heat rises in the desert

100’ today in Tucson and Yoda and I are living in an RV sans a/c.  And if you say something like, “Well, it’s a dry heat” I’m gonna smack you. And then ask yourself if you’d leave your dog in a vehicle in that heat?  My generator won’t start up (that’s my latest headache so to keep my coach battery charged I have to run my truck twice a day for 30 minutes.  And this is all to keep the refrigerator on.  However, the refrigerator runs on propane.  So why is my battery being drained at a very rapid rate.  It’s huge.  You know, 12 volt, like a car battery.  I mean a smoke detector will run on one of those little 9-volt batteries for an entire year. 

All by battery is running is:  a propane gas detector, which can switch off my propane should there be a leak.  I assumed that it also ran the thermostat on the fridge.  This I can’t prove but it makes sense.  Nothing else is on.  I repeat,nothing else is on. I don’t not turn on one light.  I use LED lights with their own AAA batteries or solar light.  The water pump is never turned on.   I get my water in gallon jugs from underneath coach and walk them into the coach.  I do not use a water heater.  God god, the water is about 85’ and getting hotter daily.

Why why would a gas detector and auto gas cut-off thingamajig run down a huge 12-volt battery in 12 or less hours?  I realize that most RV’r have at least two batteries.  $$.  All boon-dockers I know have solar panels.  $$  I’m counting on book sales to afford me these things , if it ever gets edited.  I try to find patience.  It needs an anal-retentive editor and I do have one. It’s hard to be patient in this heat.  I’m glad the generator is on the fritz.  The temptation to turn on the A/C is overwhelming. 

I lived in an upstairs apts in Waco TX one summer in college.  Hot and humid beyond belief.  My boyfriend and I lived in this huge old claw foot bathtubs.  We talked, and smoked (had floating ashtrays).  We spent so much time there that it got to where if we needed to discuss something serious one of us would say, “I’ll meet you in the bathtub.”  I wonder where he has his serious conversations now.  Sometimes I look longingly at the hotel cause I know there are bathtubs in every room.  What a treat. 

Once Gary got a motel room for a night.  We had pizza, Internet, cable TV, and he slept while I surfed in Internet from the bathtub.  Then I’d doze off and he’d go soak in the tub.  We left squeaky clean.  I also know there is a swimming pool just outside the lobby doors.  But I’m fixture around here. I’m the woman in the lobby always on her computer.  Not sure what disguise I could put on to get to the pool and pass for a hotel guest.

Gary left April 4th for New Mexico.  To get ahead of the heat.  He left angry with me.  He was furious over something I’d said the night before.  Something I hadn’t said.  I felt slapped in the face.  I quickly got all my stuff out of his RV, leaving behind some camping chairs and table, my Tucson phone book, the rabbit ears for the TV and cable. We split up our balloon spinner inventory. 

I sat there in stunned silence for a day and then had an epiphany.  False memories. Lack of memories.  No short term memory.  His friends and I chalked everything up to his drinking.  He chalked up his lack of memory up to his age.  I’ve never been this old,” he’d say.  I’d retort with, “You’re only 59, Gary.”  Fifty nine year olds have memories.  Cut down on the booze!  Or tell me the magic time of day I can say something to you and you’ll remember it.  Is it 1pm?  11am?  I’ll make sure I have the important conversations with you before that witching hour.

He’d often sulked cause I didn’t want to be a couple.  Then he told a neighbor that I wanted to have a relationship with him.  I didn’t react.  I thought he was joking.  But later he said that I’d told him I wanted for us to be a couple.  I’d never said that.  He’s the one that kept bringing that up, saying things like, “if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?”

"It’s not a duck."

He’s always been a neat freak.  But recently he began to straighten up his table, always rearranging things.  But things would come up missing. 

"I’ve lost my scissors."

"Where do they live?"

"They live on my table by I rearranged things and now I can’t find them."

Which bring me to:  why are scissors plural?  I get that there are two things put together to make scissors.  But what is one of them called?  I digress.

Then he couldn’t find his all important phone number list.  His special tablet for everyone whose phone number he knew.  Without he couldn’t call anyone.  “Why don’t you put them in your phone?”  He didn’t know how.    Finally, Isaid to him, “Gary, you have to stop rearranging your desk.  Everything needs to have a place.  Otherwise you will always be looking for things.”

"I know," he replied.  "It’s just something I have to do.  I don’t know why.  But I can’t make myself stop doing it.  It’s like a compulsion and I have to do it."

Oh great, a drunk with OCD.  And false memories.  And he’s lost his sense of smell.

Then it hit me.  My mother had lost her sense of smells.  It’s the one characteristic that differentiates Alzheimers from the other dementias.  Suddenly a light bulb went off over my head.  My friend Gary has Alzheimers and is only 59 years old.  That means it will get worse fast.  And he’ll be alone and in New Mexico.  I have none of his friend’s phone numbers.  Hell, he may not either right now unless he’s found it.  He has a sister.  I felt like I had to tell someone.  Maybe someone he wasn’t furious with could talk him into going to the VA and get tests done.  Without a postmortum slice of the brain, they can’t definitively say it’s Alzheimer’s; but dementia is dementia.  If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and has no sense of smell, it’s probably Alzheimer’s.  I hear they have a drug that can suppress its progression.  He won’t recoup what he’s lost and may always compulsively reorganize his table top and hide things from himself, have distorted memories.  But perhaps, with help, he won’t be wandering around NM with no idea where he is or be unable to recognize his friends.

I was spoiled the four months I camped with him.  He had solar panels so I used his fridge and cooked on his stove. When it was freezing in my RV, I’d go warm up in the morning in his and we’d have hash browns together.  When there was more sun as the days got longer, we could even watch movies.  He’s a highly intelligent man.  Slick sense of humor.  Not bad looking at all.  Just looks older than he is because he won’[t wear his teeth.  And I can see why.  They are quite a mouthful.  He goes from being a rather handsome older man to an ok looking younger beaver.

So, I’m stuck in Tucson until I can get some money by hook or by crook.  And in five days from now, there will be a cool 80’ day.  And that is what I look forward to. Maybe by then I’ll have some  money to fix the roof.  I have to be out of here in Early May or Yoda and I will die in that motor-home.  Or, I’ll have to cave in and return to civilization.  Get a job and pretend that I don’t have disabling panic attacks when I work (sometimes when I fill out the job application; sometimes when Ithinkabout filling out job applications.)  And with a job would come an RV park with hook ups.  Or maybe a small apartment with a/c, a swimming pool and a bathtub.  Tempting. 

But my heart longs for the cool forest; a small but steady income from book sales while I finish another one.  Maybe enough to buy a digital video camera and work on my Boondocking documentary.  Maybe next January I’ll be a guest at Sundance.  It could happen.