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Desert Companion

Zeit: A sense of place

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Vanishing cabinet
Photography by Brent Holmes

A series in which writers find meaning in specific locations around town

 

Vanishing cabinet

A trail, a cave, a secret, a memory

I’ve inhabited the same five-mile block of Summerlin for most of my life. The connective tissue for four out of the five houses I’ve ever lived in is Pueblo Park, an open recreation space that sits behind a gated community called Monterey Este. Pedestrian gates from at least three disparate communities lead to this fairly large patch of grass and charred black barbecue grills. A walking trail starts here and continues parallel to nearby Cielo Vista Avenue, starting near Buffalo and continuing up past Fort Apache. You’ll pass a colony of stray cats that lives in the dry expanse of weeds, rock, and lifeless soil on either side of the trail, fed daily by an older (not elderly) lady who defies the will of both animal control and park security. You’ll pass Richard H. Bryan Elementary, home of the Bulldogs, where a group of children, including me, were repeatedly forced to climb the playground fence after hours; this, at the behest of our Little League coach, to stage practices on the tiny field regardless of the fact that we didn’t go to school there.

And if you know where to look, you’ll come across a small hole in one of the rocky outcroppings beside the trail, a miniature cave that used to house an old metal military ammo box supposedly full of secrets.

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Only a select few at the parochial school I attended knew about this. One boy (of course, only boys were in the know) suggested it held a gun; another, secret documents about the government. The most imaginative of us said the box was migratory, that there was a GPS inside to track its location, that after a period of time, the box would be taken away and moved to a new place.

I only visited the box once before it disappeared, and it held none of these things. All that lay inside were various mementos: bits of notebook paper scrawled with obscure references, a rubber bracelet, half a candy bar. The only item of curiosity was a set of dog tags, but even these were fake. Little stories, a large part of my childhood and my life now, have the power to bind people to places. I still take walks on that trail where that tiny cave still exists. Memories wash through my head as I pass by. I often feel the urge to step off the trail and crawl through the brush, to peer inside and see if the past has returned.

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