September 11, 2022
Home again, home again
The drive from Albuquerque to Phoenix is roughly 6 ½ hours, over interstates that course through ever-changing landscapes of variegated red rock, flat desert, rolling hills with the cool pines of northern Arizona, into the saguaro wonderland of central Arizona. The familiar route took us past Winslow AZ, the Petrified Forest, through the Navajo reservation, and around Flagstaff, and descending via I-17 into the Valley of the Sun. I don’t recall much of this day. I drove to allow Mike time to rest. Where did we eat? Stop for potty breaks? I don’t know. Now eager to get home, we discarded tentative plans to spend a night or two in Flagstaff.
Blue Boy met us after we rolled into the garage in Peoria, ready to help unload the car. Even Mowgli greeted us with a hug. We took several days to return items to their rightful places, do laundry, sleep late, and postpone all appointments. Under my orders, Mike laid low until unable to resist the siren call of the weeds.
When we left in July, the boys were on summer vacation. They had returned to the classroom. With ED traveling three to five days a week, Mike and I were on our own with Luna the Dog.
Now writing in October, I look at my notes and recall the sound of freight trains and church bells interrupting a conversation in Moline. When filling up on gas somewhere in the desert of the lower Midwest, I picked up the squeegee to wash the windshield, only to find a parched water trough. It was interesting that senior coffee prices at McDonald’s ranged from 87¢ to more than $2.00. Many areas of the country do not have cell service, and small towns are dying.
This excursion allowed us to imagine relocating. Of the places we tasted, the area north of Denver held the most appeal. But a lot can happen in three years, when we plan to break up this household. Rerooting takes a great deal of physical and emotional energy. We may not be strong enough. We would need to be in a community where new ties could be made easily.
I learned I tire of being on the go constantly. The weeks in Chicago, filled with friends, family, and reunions were exhausting. While Little Sis suffers from FOMO—fear of missing out—I identify with my cousin Susan and JOMO—joy of missing out. The weeks in VRBO’s were satisfying, allowing us to live our own schedule.
And there is the weather, a primary reason for leaving the Midwest with its humidity, fluctuating temperatures, and gray skies. Escaping the heat of central Arizona, we found 95 o in Utah tolerable compared to 115o in Phoenix. Returning to Arizona over nine weeks later, the thermometer continued to hit three digits. How long do we have to be away to escape the heat?
We are not ready to move. We are committed for another three years with ED and the boys. And no one place calls to us. We will know when it is time. Or I will know and Mike will follow. That evening, I dove into the pool for a bedtime skinny dip. Yes, it was good to be home.