Garrett and I leave Brett in Joshua Tree early in the evening, and try to go to the national park. The guard, listening to music in a middle-of-the-road booth, waves at us to turn around.

Garrett's parents live full-time in a time-share in Palm Desert, a peach-colored gated community near Palm Springs. That night, Garrett and I go swimming in one of the three hot tubs at the nearby hotel, floating on our backs and talking about possible futures. We shower in the men's locker room after wandering, wet, past five or six shut-down PGA shops. The hotel is new, yellow, and glowing, with a prominent Asian flower motif on the carpet and the ceilings. Heavy-lidded women in constricting shoes, slightly overweight and wearing nice earrings and light shawls, stumble on younger men's arms out of the cocktail lounge. At Garrett's house, we sleep on the couch. The windows have blackout curtains, closed against the night-lit golf course. 

We sleep hard and I wake up sweating and dehydrated at 10:30. Garrett, at his mom's urging, makes eggs for breakfast, which he serves to me, his sister Nicole, and her husband British Matthew. We all pile into their convertible, which his sister refers to as "an old junker," and drive to the Clay Studio in La Quinta. Garrett's sister and her husband do hand-building and Garrett and I attempt to throw pots. For lunch, we walk next door for ten-dollar sandwiches. All the cars on the street are very new and expensive, brightly-colored, low-slung sports models. We see a woman riding a Vespa with a small, leashed dog trotting beside her. 

In La Quinta it is hot and sunny, and the air smells like sprinkler systems and floral perfume. The "Old Town" is threaded with gardenia. We sit on the white curb in front of a glinting black motorcycle and drink watermelon flavored soda water. Across the street, imitation-Spanish buildings advertise banks and "wealth investment" firms.

15 miles out, there's a desert - small shacks spread out across the bushland, family Mexican restaurants and sand roads. In Palm Desert, Garrett says he'll slit his throat with a marble-handled knife and be placed on a pyre in the blue-cement pools, clean propane flames reflected in the windows of the four-story hotel. Joshua Tree, he thinks, is better. Joshua Tree is a tour of dreadlocked out-of-towners wearing expensive outdoors wear, but nothing is green and placating, and you can drive up in the hills and feel isolated among the little houses with clotheslines in the back. Garrett and I go to the La Quinta Library, where we sit in modernist chairs and read out-of-date travelogues.