Rambling through Autumn and Winter 2014
“Home.” What a word. Is it the car I share with my dogs? Perhaps the motels and campgrounds where we seek shelter? Or maybe the wood? The ocean? The desert? Where we find ourselves feeling healed and whole? Is it the house I shared with a husband and foster child? The town where my parents live? Home is an odd word, as it means everything, and nothing. Here I was, at home, in New England. Familiar with the house. The neighbors. The woods. I know where to shop for groceries. Where the doctor’s office is. What to expect at church. I am home. But it isn’t home. It is where I used to live before I went to Arizona. The dogs and I went to familiar woods. I took them to Mount Greylock. We visited Savoy Mountain State Forest. I walked along the sea with a friend. Everything was familiar, and everything was different. Have you ever pulled your favorite hiking boots out of storage only to find they don’t fit the same anymore? They may hold the memories of a thousand miles, but they pinch, and don’t give the way they used to. They don’t fit because you have outgrown them in some indiscernible way. You sigh and wear them, anyway, because nothing else fits, either.
Welcome “home.” Never mind that you invested more of yourself than you knew you were for the short time you spent crossing the continent, twice, and living among a completely different culture. Overlook the trite comments about “the pictures of the desert are beautiful”. Pictures? They convey nothing of the dimension of antiquity and distance one feels at the Homolovi Ruins. ‘A horse is a horse, of course, of course,’ but wild horses are nothing like Mr. Ed, the lean and muscular beasts in Pennsylvania farming communities, the Letter Sweater runners in western Kentucky. Guardians of the high desert, wild horses can not be imagined. One has to see them, to be welcomed by them, to be protected by them. That is not a movie, not a photograph. That is life, on the hoof, in the neighborhood, down the road, under the monsoon, in the early morning, everyday.
Yes, there are beautiful photographs of the desert. I suggest Arizona Highways magazines for some spectacular shots. But you can read them sitting still, with no fear of stepping on a snake, brushing against a plant only too willing to share its spines. Turn up the heat in your house, and you will still not bake like you can bake on a sunfilled day in the desert. There is no substitute for life. Reading a passage, admiring a photograph is not the same as being there, seeing that, understanding this. I love New England, and driving across the country suits me more than I expected it to. But I wasn’t finished with the desert just yet, and the desert wasn’t done with me. Nonetheless, I wandered around Winter 2014, downsizing my expectations, kicking my way through depression, sorrow and loss, clarifying who and what I am. I was homesick for a place I never expected to call “home.” I did not understand. I needed to go back.
Homolovi Ruins: http://azstateparks.com/Parks/HORU/index.html
Arizona Highways: https://www.arizonahighways.com/