This post is part of #the100dayproject that encourages creatives to do an action every day for 100 days. I've chosen to write an article or blog post every day. Previous posts for this project can be found here.
I first saw The Desk on Instagram. In the photo, my friend Natalie Pattillo, who was a Marfa Public Radio intern with me at the time, is sitting on the chair with her legs pushed in. Her hands are on her lap and she has a slight smile on her face as she looks over the vast West Texas landscape. She looks peaceful.
It was that photo that motivated me to get to The Desk.
One of the main reasons I moved to Marfa was to get away from the big city. I was tired of my phone blowing up all the damn time with notifications. I always felt rushed. I felt anxious all the time.
The Desk is located on Hancock Hill at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. The story goes that three students - Jim Kitchen, Bill Wagner and Travis Miller – wanted a peaceful place to study, so they carried a large metal desk up the hill in 1981. It's been up there as long as I've been alive (go ahead, do the math in your head). How they managed to make that happen is beyond me, but I'm grateful for it.
Inside a drawer, there's a notebook for people to write in. The tradition started when Kitchens left a notebook in a drawer one day and returned to see someone had written in it. I'm sure many notebooks have been left through the years, but each page is filled with messages and signatures of those who made the trek. Some even skip the notebook and write on the desk itself.
I got lost the first time I tried to hike to it. Ka Yoland (who also worked at Marfa Public Radio at the time) wanted to take my portrait and I chose the desk for the backdrop. It seemed like the perfect place to depict this West Texas writer. But we got lost.
The Sul Ross website says to follow the trail from the parking lot, but we saw two trails. And given how my luck goes, we chose the wrong one. At least that's what I think. We walked. And we walked. And we walked. And we drove back to Marfa without finding a desk and without my portrait.
But looking back, I think we didn't find it because we gave up too early. Or at least I did. I'm not much of a hiker to be honest. Or to do anything that requires exercise.
A few months later, I persuaded my friend Matt Alvarez on our drive back from SXSW to search for it again. Of course we were not prepared for such a spontaneous endeavor, but we tried anyways. It was Matt who found it. When I walked over to him, all I could see was the terrain. All I could hear was the wind and Matt's camera shutter.
And I was at peace.