When I was ten and living in Germany, my mom and I went to Poland. We visited the Wielickza Salt Mine near Kraków, it contains four chapels carved within the mine as well as dozens of statues- all made of salt. In my room back in Atlanta I have a tiny barrel topped with glued on rock salt we got from what I assume was a gift shop. I remember, vaguely, one of the chapels we went into, it was elaborately carved, making my few visits to the old catholic cathedrals throughout Europe seem laughable. These chapels had been carved into salt, formed and crafted by humans, in a place one would not expect to see a chapel. That was 16 years ago.
Currently, I am beginning this post sitting on my crashed staring out at the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway, waiting for the sun to go down. By the time this post is published, I will be 26. Time is a funny concept.
I am half way through my summer in Utah. I am almost six months past the break up that drove me out here, and a month and a half away from the idea of returning to an environment I’m much happier being away from. I am one semester away from graduating. One year away from celebrating in South Africa. One year away from, in all honesty, returning to Utah. I am no longer a quarter of a century old.
Last week, while working on a bouldering problem at one of the gyms in Salt Lake, a man told me I was a very coordinated climber for never having been a particularly athletic person as a child. I proceed to drop, spill, and knock over everything in front of my for the rest of the week after he told me that. He pointed out that, maybe, the coordination comes from being more relaxed at these gyms. They hold no awful memories, they hold no hard memories.
If you look on the website for the Bonneville Salt Flats it will tell you that because of the salty environment it is hard for life to grow out here- but I have made friends with two crickets and am sitting to the immediate right of a small plant growing out of the asphalt. When I am going through my hardest moments, my mom likes to remind me, as mom’s do, that I have routinely picked myself up, brushed myself off, and kept going. She has called me, endearingly, a cactus. I grow in impossible places. I have wanted to give up, jump ship, bail- and somehow I have kept going, like many other people. I have gone through three heart breaks with the same person, six years of undergrad, five different majors, countless fights with a father I am currently trying to figure out how to reopen conversations with (and if I even should), and twenty six years of doing things wrong and having to refigure out my next steps. I am a cactus. I am a salt flat cricket. I am the weed sticking out of the sidewalk in downtown Atlanta. I am Alma and I am twenty six.