After we are finished trampling along the chaparral, my hiking buddy fingers me in the back seat of her car—a Toyota Avalon parked in front of the abandoned house next door.
I stop shaving the line of hair from my pubic bone to my belly button. I google “girl happy trail” and am met with photos of sparse paths. Mine is thick and dark. Mine divides my belly with glee.
I watch all of Pretty Little Liars. I watch five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I watch Girlfriends and Insecure and The L Word. I watch hundreds of hours of TikTok. I watch Sims 4 builders and Jenna Marbles quitting and Instagram stories of kids I went to school with and Presidential Debates and videos of myself, from months prior. An untouchable me.
When we set up the vote center, one coworker laid on the concrete, using a dustpan to unjam the door to the storage pod. Our other coworker, a 69 yr old woman who started volunteering ten years ago, told us that she first signed up because her husband left her a widow. As if it were intentional. As if we leave things and disappear entirely, only to be evoked in introductions.
I make notes on my phone. No Skip Albums (Ctrl, Blonde, Tapestry). Tattoos I want (a may queen, a goose, a hand pointing at the moon). Names of the babies from my high school classmates (Scarlytt Rose, Lorelei, Jagger). The zodiac signs of every person I’ve kissed and the signs I am missing (Cancer, Libra, Saggitarius).
My mom cycles through sobriety and swallowing anything she can. Boxed wine in a Walmart bathroom, IV fluid after two trips to the hospital, vodka from a homeless man in the alley behind a liquor store. She disappears for three weeks, and I think maybe she will never return. Maybe this exit is permanent.
For a month, I date a girl with a Disney-themed bedroom. The sex is bad, mostly I feel objectified. On the way back from her apartment filled with Mickey Mouse backpacks, I pass an oil field that looks more like a metropolis. I decide the lives of the people living in this vibrant, golden, unimpacted city.
A friend says if she were trapped on a deserted island she wouldn’t bring lingerie. I don’t think of my body as an island. I try not to think of my body at all.