Friday, September 09, 2005

Smitten with "here" but longing for "there"

When I was in southeast Arkansas my friend asked me if it felt like fall. “Nope”, I said. “The weather is still too hot (the high 80’s), trees have their leaves, and you’re running an air-conditioner, how can that be fall?” “The cott’n harvest has started,” she replied. “So what”, I asked? She smiled at me with an all knowing look. “What? What! Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked. “You’ve become ‘southern’”, she whispered. “I have NOT!” I exclaimed. “Oh yeah, well then how do y’all know when it’s fall in the desert”, she asked? --- And I JUST STARED AT HER. Know why? Because, she might be right. In the Sonoran Desert, “fall” is when the temperature drops from the 100’s, the sky is a clear blue; scrubbed clean by the monsoons, and the cotton harvest is about ready to start. So if I were still a desert person, technically I would have to claim “fall” has started. But now I believe FALL is when the weather becomes crisp, you turn off the air-conditioner, trees begin to change color and loose their leaves, and the atmosphere changes …., so I guess I’m “southern”. (Or, at least a little less “western”.) But I am glad to be back in the little yellow and white house after the chaos and tension of Louisiana post-Katrina. It’s nice not to pack a suite case each morning, to not drive another 100 miles to the next hotel each night, and to be able to eat my own cooking. Of course my social schedule improves when I return also. So far I’ve seen a group of women from church on Tuesday night, dug through my mail pile on Wednesday night, ate dinner with neighbors on Thursday night, and had lunch with friends on Friday. Tomorrow, after I work my “seasonal” Saturday, I’ll meet more friends for a “beer tasting jaunt”, fix a side dish, and join yet more friends from church for a dinner group. Sunday comes complete with Contemporary church, Sunday school, “Big People’s Church”, and yet another party to attend in the evening. I miss my desert; I miss the lifestyle, and my friends. It’s a deep ache, almost like a lost appendage. I miss Sonoran style Mexican Food, mountains the color of cinnamon with their vivid purple shadows, Palo Verde trees and their lacy shade, brittle sage bushes with their small yellow flowers, mission and hacienda style homes with deep cool porches and center courtyards to escape the heat, watching the approach of a storm across the desert floor with spectacular burst of lightening strikes and house rattling thundering reports, and streets that run parallel. I also miss California; the Sierra Nevada Mountains with their snow capped peaks and hidden crystal lakes and streams, the burning of the rice fields in the fall, the blooming of orchards in spring and the tender green that cloaks the foothills after a rain, my family - immediate and extended, beautiful San Francisco so seductive in her charms, and bohemian Laguna Beach with its quite allure – sitting high in the cliffs and looking toward Catalina Island while sipping coffee and kahlua on a clear morning … and yet, and yet, I’m so plugged in here and so many people have befriended me… how dare I say I miss there? I believe deeply that you can love any place you live … but it’s a reciprocal process. You must seek out those things that bring you pleasure wherever life deposits you … and in turn the place will reward you with its hidden treasures. Like any love affair, you must be careful not to make your new home “insecure” or it’s inhabitants feel like they can “never measure up” by continuing to laude the attributes of “back home” while ignoring the charms of “right here”. I guess what I’m trying to say is cities are jealous creatures … you must compliment them, or they will turn on you and you’ll never “love” where you are. So where does all of this lead to, just the realization that with each passing season I find myself a little more smitten with here … yet somehow still longing for there.

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