When visitors walk into my apartment they see a wide array of knickknacks adorning my bookshelves and side tables. Most of these pieces were bought specifically as decorations and none would appear to stand out to the uninformed visitor. But there is one object that will always be special to me. This piece sits, unassuming, on a glass side table next to a book titled “The Great Wide Open” and under a framed print of the modern day wanderlust’s mantra coined by J.R.R Tolkien “All Those Who Wander Are Not Lost”. It is a medium sized raw geode (the perfect size to rest in the palm of my hands) and it’s been broken to reveal the shimmering quartz crystal inside. I picked up this piece at the Carlsbad Caverns gift shop while on a cross-country road trip with my mom. We were heading from Newport Beach, CA back to my hometown of Madison, WI. This trip was taken during one of the most unsure, tumultuous times in my life.
Nine months prior to this road trip I was actually making the exact same trip in the opposite direction. Traveling from Wisconsin to California with hopes and dreams of “making it” in the fashion industry. I had accepted a new job at an up-and-coming fashion e-tailer that sounded glamorous, and although the pay was abysmal (as is typical for entry level fashion positions), it sounded like a way to get my foot in the door and move up the chain in my ideal career. Nothing was going to stand in my way…until everything came crumbling down all at once. The new job that sounded so promising was pushing me to my breaking point and wasn’t providing enough income. I couldn’t afford the rent for my studio, I couldn’t afford my car, I couldn’t afford anything. My personal relationships were deteriorating and I was sinking into a depression. So I made the decision to cut my losses and move home. My mom flew across the country to help me pack my life back into my Honda Accord and make the 2,000 mile trip home.
In order to make the most of the trip my mom and I decided to stop at as many national parks and monuments along the way as we could. This trip turned out to be the first time I felt truly happy in months. I remember visiting White Sands National Monument and bounding barefoot through the dunes with a genuine smile on my face. We visited Saguaro National Park in Arizona and I stood, mouth-agape, neck craned to look up at the towering Saguaro cacti. And we journeyed into the depths of the Carlsbad Caverns, a cave in New Mexico that is so large the Empire State Building could be laid within it. These spectacular natural sights reawakened me and acted like a guiding light out of some of the toughest times of my life.
In the Carlsbad Caverns gift shop my mom and I wandered around, admiring the different rocks and minerals that were for sale when I spotted this quartz geode and picked it up. It was $10 but I was financially strained and couldn’t justify spending any money on a rock so I reluctantly set it back down. I’m sure my mom inferred what was going through my mind and she offered to buy it for me. It seemed like such a simple piece, nothing more than a paper weight really, but I felt drawn to its raw beauty. I had no idea at the time how much I would treasure that piece as time passed.
I’ve since gotten back on my feet and have moved back out on my own and changed apartments a few times and every time I move the rock is packed up and moves with me. Every time I look at it I am brought back to that road trip with my mom, driving on the open road under the southwestern sun, not passing any other cars for miles and miles and talking about life. Although I didn’t know it at the time, that trip marked a distinct turning point in my life. This rock is the only souvenir I collected on that journey home and it is now the only physical reminder I have of a time when things finally took a turn for the better. It signifies hope and new beginnings and I truly cherish it!