An Anecdote

While assigned to a fire in New Mexico a few weeks ago, my crew was standing by to allow a storm cell to pass over the fire area. I was on my phone, having already finished the only book I brought on the roll. I was admiring a friend’s life, the husband and house and her innate ability to rock sundresses and red lipstick. I’ve never been able to rock red lipstick. Man, I thought—this broad has it together. 

As I often do in moments of mindless social media admiration, I glanced up from my phone to consider all the things I have going, all the things that make me feel, however infrequently, like I have it together. I look up and note that I’m sitting in the sun—a brief moment of sun in a day characterized by torrential rain, and just as I considered my good fortune a guy on my crew asks another guy how he's been pooping today. Neither of them laughed or made any indication that this wasn’t a serious, compassionate inquiry. Guy one was genuinely curious about the status of the other’s bowel movements. 

I laughed to myself and started writing, because the moment felt perfect and poop is always funny. I don’t have a lot of things—a desk or a house or the ability to wear cute sundresses—but I’m surrounded by people who care so deeply about each other that they check in on how everyone’s pooping. I have nights in a wet sleeping bag on a plateau in rural New Mexico, where I’m certain the stars are brighter than anywhere else that I've been. I have happy tears from laughing at stupid jokes over a game of euchre in the buggy. I have dinners of cold chicken-fried-steak and breakfasts of dry cereal. And that might not seem like much, but it feels like enough, and I guess that’s what matters. 


A New Mexico Morning

How To: Fight Fire

How To: Fight Fire

Let’s get one thing straight: your mom’s not going to like this.

Deciding to be a firefighter is a tough decision, made even tougher by the look your mom will inevitably give you when you first tell her about it. I spent years conditioning my mother for this moment — extended climbing/skiing/backpacking trips without cell phone service, cross-country road trips with people she’d never met or heard me talk about, childhood shenanigans involving concussions and scraped knees and outdoor forts made out of her favorite blankets.