5. LAS CRUCES, NM

From our funky pitstop in Marfa, we flirted with the Mexican border on our way through El Paso, TX. With Mexico to our left, we circled around a wall that separated our two countries as the phone grabbed a Spanish-named cell signal and flipped the clock back an extra hour. 

Witnessing the second time-zone change in less than a week, it felt like our car was a moving slot machine dropping golden time-travel coins in our lap. I could almost feel my wrinkles and grey hair disappear as we floated down the smooth highway.

We arrived at our campground in Las Cruces around 6:30pm, quickly set up our tent and changed into our swimsuits to wash away miles from the day in the nearby pool. The weather was epic — a high and dry 70 degrees with a sturdy breeze enviable of any Caribbean island. The campground perched gently over the twinkling lights of the city with sweeping views of the Organ Mountains to the Northeast.

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After an electric sunset, we headed back to camp and, with synchronized headlights, made an impromptu picnic. Ciabatta from Easy Tiger, prosciutto and brie from in.gredients, black cherries from Whole Foods (mothership) and craft chocolate from Wheatsville Co-Op

Some time around 9pm, we acknowledged the milestone of our first, ceremonious week of the trip! Only then did we remember that August 15 also marked our 15 year anniversary. While it might seem an odd way to celebrate the crystal anniversary, it actually ended up kind of perfect. 

Zan and I have never been much into the pomp and circumstance of gift-giving. In fact, in 15 years of being together, I have only given Zan two gifts. The first was a surprise bouquet of wild flowers for his 30th birthday. (He grew up with a mom who shared her great joy of gardening and he once commented to me that it was unfortunate that only women “get flowers”.) The second was a shadow box filled with photos, a lock of hair and a dog tag that I presented to him on Christmas morning, a few months after his best friend and companion, Wyeth, had passed. (The second gift was met with tears and still hangs in a spot where he can look at it first thing every morning.)

While neither gift was very lavish, both seemed as strong a statement of our commitment that I could make at the time. They were my way of saying, “I see you. I’m listening. I value and honor that which makes you happy and most alive.”

In a relationship that favors the experiential over the material, our adventures together have proven to be the best gifts I could imagine. The view from this year’s anniversary gift was — wait for it — crystal clear.