I'm a selfish witch, I am.
When I left Virginia, I went down to the dirty old Potomac and dragged the long, dry strands of my hair through the muddy waters. My head stunk all the way home, but when I got there, I split the end of a willow twig and spun a lock of faded purple hair through, tying it tight all the way down the length of the stick to remind me.
Just simple charms, you know. Homesickness. You can never leave everything behind, and I'm partial to rain.
That might have been the end of it, except I stopped at this backwards hotel in West Virginia in a small coal town in the cleft of a mountain, and it rained that day, beading my hair. I swiped that right off with a finger and down the length of the stick, and my hair, and tucked it away in my backpack. And that might have been the end of it.
Except it wasn't snowing, despite being March in the mountains, and it was raining off and on where I went. There was a bit of bourbon-colored water in Louisiana, and some lavender oil from a witchy shop, and some plainlands rain in Indiana that might have been the stubborn tears of some half-soldier girl. Then there was a few drips and drabs of water... I didn't get much out of Chicago, really, even with the great big lake right there.
I fished this blue ribbon out of the Big Sip, though, and it spent all the way to Iowa City drying out, and then after that, there was this big purple-grey thunderstorm sweeping the cornfields and washing the world clean all the way to Omaha.
Down to Denver and Golden and Boulder, it was dry as the highlands can be, all scrub and smoke from the mountains on fire, but I caught a shower, of all things, in the household of a miner. In exchange, I left behind a pair of pants (and some hair, I must admit). My little water charm was getting fat with hair and ribbons and memories.
After the winds in Wyoming and the mountains, I felt a bit of faith slip away, faith in the magic and the charms and the prayers. Snowbound, trapped, even for an hour, isn't my way, and I slipped away from it shame-faced and a bit wet behind the ears. I guess that got woven into it too.
Salt Lake City gave up a handful of manna, of salty lake waters, and Nevada gave up tears, and by the time I got to San Francisco, I was eager to wade ankle-deep into the first stream I saw, offering up my charm to the Bay waters (miles away, I must admit). I spent a week there, luxuriating in the bridges, in the bay that splits apart the cities in a great, glittering expanse.
I took dreams from a writer down San Jose way, I took strength and fennel from dreamers up Davis way. I went up the coast to Eugene and soaked in the rain, and with my stick of charms I went east to the desert, and that's where I live now.
It never rains here, much.
Except I wake up and look up at the stick of charms spinning in my window and my woven ribbons and lengths of hair and the dreams, and it's rained nearly forty days and forty nights off and on. The stick's growing thinner and thinner, but it's still thick with the rain and the rivers and the wonder of all that water pouring down and through and running the coast east to west along the Interstate and the lips of the places I've passed.
Yesterday, I went to Portland and I waded into the Columbia and dragged my hair in the muddy waters...