• R. Gurley

A Year Since We Arrived

A minute to write, which has been rare this year. A year has passed since I moved to this desert place full time. Twelve months to watch each season etch itself across this desert valley floor. Creosote and sage bursting forth like coral reefs. The wind acts as waves. Wind shapes this desert place weaving itself through the silence inherent in this air. I hear the year spent here whispering itself into words.

Mick, my terrier, and I arrived last November with all of our stuff in a Misubishi Mirage to the homestead I had left over a decade ago to fall in love and to see the world. However, like the desert tortoise who sometimes crawl across this land, I returned to where we always do- home, not the place of my family, but my place, the place which understands me, a homestead cabin with its front porch facing the morning sky. The cabin, like me, had much in the need of repair.

Winter was a cold one as they often are. Mick and I hibernated, for the most part, except for walks at dawn and dusk where we often saw our breath. Winter, however, was not lonely. Friends visited. Meals made. Laughter. Heart to hearts. One guest arrived; a person I once considered an enemy, now dear friends; five day were spent on the land recollecting and laughing . Winter, the season to forgive.

Spring’s eve occurred the last of week of February when my friend left. I had grown used to seeing my breath watching the sun rise in muted tones over the horizon. However, my inhalation resulting in no trace of steam as the season shifted. Cocoons dangling from hints of buds not there the month before. Spring and its promise of new life.

Something in my soul stirred deep watching the blossoms unfold this year. A realization. This is my place in the sand. This is the place I have chosen to lay the load I have carried. This is the place where I will root to see what grows. This is the place for creation. A place that blooms and dies; a place brutal, yet warm.

Then, came summer. The blossoms falling to the ground. Another person from my past crossed my path. A person with which I share a lot of undertow. We spent the months fixing things that were broke in the cabin and, perhaps, us. Relationships mean more to me as these years pass especially the ones which last through decades of life’s decay. I painted the kitchen the color of the sun.

I found myself in Mexico at summer’s end looking out at the ocean blue. I was there to see my mother, another person who I have lost touch with over time. She is older. Her body not as strong. I sat in the courtyard of her cabana and cried under lemon trees about a lot of things. I made some new friends. Friends who cared for my mom and understood the distance my mother have had. Friends who helped come up with a plan.

Fall found me in Arizona carrying out this plan in a little town on the Mexican border, south of Tuscon AZ. My new friends put me up in a travel trailer down the street from where my mother stayed. This is where I spent the turning of the fall season- in a desert foreign to my own, a desert that surpassed my expectation. My mother went to doctor’s appointments during the day and waited for results in the night. I begun learning what it means to get older- a lesson that just begun. The leaves on the scrub oaks turning a browner hue in the first small town in the US I have been to where I felt it was doing well. My mother results came back clean. We were relieved. We left. Her to Mexico, me, back to this desert place again although to this little border town in Arizona I will return, a place that made my heart stir, an occurrence rarer as these years go by.

The fall also brought accomplishment. I watched my friend with which I share undertow achieve something that will forever change his life. I watched him drive away in a truck with the deepest hopes he will fly. Autumn saw some writing of mine was accepted as well. My hope is next year there will be more time to write.

And now I sit here with Mick and Jade, Mick’s new friend whom I watch for my friend. The air is not as cold as it was on this day last year. Perhaps, global warming, perhaps , the heart. Whatever the case, the year has been good. The cabin looking better although it has miles to go before it is complete- a lot like me.

My attention turns to the horizon to the east that has had me in its clutches for well over a decade now. This was the first year I was able to watch most of my sunrises here. For this, I am most thankful- a place called home, a place that heals, a place to come to as people come and go. Mick shakes the sand off his fur. One day, he, too, will be part of this desert dust and so will I. Time. The wind’s whisper withdraws itself and the creosote and sage return to stillness. Silence except for the sound of words being typed across this page. Here's to another year...whatever it may hold....

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