Last night I covered my office with maps. I stayed up late and stitched together my favorite pieces of the Mojave: the Imperial Dunes and the Devil’s Playground, Last Chance Mountain and the Confusion Range. At dawn, I stepped back to admire my handiwork and discovered I’d turned into my father. Shortly before he died, he wallpapered a small room in New Orleans with maps of the bayou, marking the places he liked to fish: Jesuit Bend. Port Sulphur. Lost Lake. 

For the first time in decades, I remembered the fat sheath of maps in my grandfather’s fishing boat, where I would marvel at the mythic language of Michigan’s lakes: Thunder Bay. Jackfish Channel. Knife River Harbor. I did not expect these maps of Death Valley and Joshua Tree to draw me into the past, to join me with my father and grandfather’s need to comprehend where they were. But it felt good to say hello to these memories, my ghosts. My grandfather. My father. And me, the end of the line. They had the water. I have the desert.