What I Found in the Arizona Sun.

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

There’s a flood flowing through the Arizona desert. Can you feel it? It’s me peeling off the layers of my life.

How many chapters did I dance and sleep under these Sonoran-orange skies? How many afternoons and evenings found me painting and drinking words at The Coffee Plantation? Meeting friends at Pizza Uno?

How fortunate I feel to be flooded with flashbacks of old lovers—Henry, Tom, and ha-ha, I forgot about Chad! Back then, decades ago…

What a brave badass inhabited my young body! I fled to Sedona, Vegas, or Palm Springs on a moment’s notice.

I raced Jim in his pearl-white Infiniti while I pressed the petal on my Mazda Millenia along I-17. We drove too fast in a time when cell phones were fresh and eye-catching, like us.

In those days, my girlfriend Sam and I danced until dawn, drank like we’d live forever, ran in the early mornings to insure we would, and worked like we were destined to run the world.

We led a mystery tour (where you don’t tell the others where they’re going, just what they need to bring and what time to be ready) to Laughlin, got lost, answered The Question Book, crashed jet skis, won more coins than I could carry, and drove drunk on joy, listening to The Lion King soundtrack, while a band of stars escorted us home.

My then-boyfriend and I gambled it all in Vegas and bet again on Cancun, MX.

Arizona, even though I left you to move with him, I came back, didn’t I?

I made you laugh by taking the easiest sales gig I ever had. Selling water systems in the desert!

Oh, Phoenix! If your palm trees could tell stories, the wind would rustle up a few of mine.

Like working out with John Allen, eating at Ra, and driving Natalie everywhere—until the day all the lights on the dashboard of my Ford Probe flashed me into a new (used) car purchase.

My unlikely friendship with Natalie formed on drives that took us to a sisterly depth. The kind of sisters that disagree and occasionally don’t talk for days.

Like a big sister putting on my lipstick, Natalie owned her femininity and passed it on to me. She shared her frilly clothes and admired me like a gift.

Our friendship weathered lightning flashes, but no matter how loud we crackled, we took the calls, as years carried us to different places.

New Yorker Natalie heard from me after 9/11 and she called me and spoke tender words to me in my grief.

Now, we’re here. In Arizona. Together again. All grown up after maxing out our youth.

We appreciate (even while resisting) our age. We own our current beauty.

At this stage, we know secrets we didn’t even entertain the questions to while meeting in the morning of our time together.

Now, as women of a certain age–an age where we’re certain–we seek truth, open to mystery, and align with magic. We know peace.

On this visit, Natalie and our friend Jennifer and I sew close the seams of sisterhood. We do it poolside, drinking straight sunshine.

Natalie’s exotic features and her Black Beauty hair still shine. She’s easy to the touch, familiar, her skin as soft as her eyes.

On this return to Arizona, I tour through time, revisit friendships, and peruse old chapters. They weren’t all pretty, but they’re all mine.

So, I smile. The scenes float across my mental movie screen. I allow for their release.

The old edge still exists, like snaps on the wind as adobe buildings pose before me.

Weathered, proud, humming with memories, and flinging doors open to new guests and adventures.

I am that adobe building. I stretch my arms wide to the sky and welcome every blazing color. I stand solid before leaving.

Arizona, my lover, this time is different.

For my married decade far away, I longed to be back in your arms, to have you warm me and whisper, “You’re home.”

Not this time. Yes, you hold people I love. I love that about you.

I cherish your spicy food, the curves of your landscape, and the cadence of your accent. I love your son, Jerome, and your daughter, Sedona.

But I no longer throw myself at your feet. I’m free. I’m happy to visit you and thrilled to go home.

My shadow will linger as sure as the stories I buried in your dirt.

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