Glow in the Desert
It’s not what you’d expect to see in the middle of a still, starless night in the Arizona desert …
Dimly lit turquoise and purple paper lanterns rocking in the wind. A family of four draped in six feet of neon yellow glow rope, moving as one like a snake among the outbuildings of a local ranch. A young woman in tights walking the dusty desert soil, an oversized blue-and-white lighted hula-hoop in her hands.
But that’s exactly what I saw a few weekends ago. And more.
“Be the glow you wish to see in the world,” the GLOW event advertisements read. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. And once hubby and I were there, I still didn’t know what to think, except: Wow.
What did I see, besides the multimedia art? I saw an adult woman in a fluffy, hoop-skirt pink prom gown and flip-flops, continually sneaking into a storage building to refill her wine glass. I saw glow bracelets dancing through the darkness, though I knew they were wrapped around ankles and wrists. I saw a real-life Urkel in skinny jeans cut off at the knees, Mork suspenders completing the ensemble. I saw lights peeking from creosote bushes and mesquite. I heard music floating on the thirsty desert air.
I saw a plump woman in a Viking style gown with coins sewn to the thick maroon fabric at the small of her back. I listened to the haunting notes of a violinist, who played before the backdrop of a giant, dancing Windows 98 screensaver. I watched Dr. Seuss cartoons from an old reel-to-reel projector perched high atop a small storage shed and aimed at the ground, bringing the settled dirt to animated life.
I saw metal barrels soldered and sculpted and lit from within, listened to a band singing about falling cats (really!), inhaled the aroma of Mexican and Italian food from local restaurants, and watched a man in a King Tut costume strut his stuff. I’m serious. I couldn’t possibly make this up.
But what I felt? What I felt was a peaceful calm. I relished the cool breeze, void of moths and mosquitoes, void of the rush of everyday life. I felt my imagination come to life.
As we headed home for the evening, I floated hypnotically down the dimly lit path, under the paper lanterns that greeted us when we first arrived. It felt as though I’d been transported to some eccentric magical land of make-believe – adults lit up like Christmas trees, children wearing Pippi Longstocking stockings, wizard hats and fairy costumes, wings pinned to their backs. It was Halloween meets art. Desert breeze meets artistic calm. Harry Potter meets Renaissance.
And it made me wonder, later: Did I really see the dozen or so snakes strewn all over the winding rural desert roads as I drove the pickup home? Was there really a great horned owl waiting at the horse stables at our house, greeting us with an impressive wing span, stilled, watching us just as curiously as we watched him?
For Writers: Do you find material for your stories in unexpected places? It wasn’t my intention to gather fiction fodder this evening, but you betcha’ that a scene from this night will be in my WIP. I’m not sure how this artistic event morphed into the potpourri of eclecticism that it has, but my mind was – is – spinning with ideas, just like that reel-to-reel movie projector.