When we lived in Phoenix I was afraid.
We were 1000 miles away from family and friends. In our mid-30s saddled/blessed with 4 children. We moved out there to pursue a much-needed business opportunity.
Everywhere we’d lived, prior to this, was driving distance from our parents’ homes. All the previous cities were fairly similar to one another. Simply put, Arizona was a culture shock. Everything about the area was different from what we were accustomed to.
It was the desert.
It looked strange, felt strange, seemed strange.
Turns out – I had good reason to be angsty. In the time we lived there, the bottom fell out of the tech industry (the success of which our business endeavor relied heavily upon), my father passed away in Dallas, leaving my mother widowed and much too far away, immediately followed by 9/11.
The ensuing scorpion infestation of our home gets it’s own line.
Yet, in that time, we also managed to draw our family and marriage closer, as we leaned on each other in our perceived solitude. We started hiking, traveled extensively to a lot of cool places (we would’ve never visited otherwise) picked up some wonderful new friends along the way and shared the most AMAZING sunsets together.
Without question, the very best thing to come out of that era was our 5th and last child.*** And yet, as much as I acknowledge and appreciate those positive aspects…
…when Jimmy came home and told me his company had an opening for him back in Oklahoma, I personally hammered a For Sale sign into our rocky xeriscaped yard the very next morning.
We were in the desert 4 years. Which beats the Hell out of 40 years.
(My Ginger skin is still resentful by the way. It was made to accommodate the overcast, misty Moors of Scotland, not open terrain under an unrelenting blazing sun…)
Years later, when friends would inquire how we “liked living out there” I would answer enthusiastically, “We absolutely loved it!”
And Jimmy would all but fall out of his chair. Stunned by my ability to lie.
We’d been married long enough to refrain from contradicting one another too obviously in public, but when he challenged me later, this is how I explained my response: Phoenix was a little similar to a military tour-of-duty. I likened it to when my dad was stationed in Germany and Africa. My family knew in advance the finite beginning and ending of both 3 year “tours” in advance.
I went on to explain- looking back, I would’ve relaxed and appreciated our time in Arizona more if I was assured my life was going to GET BACK TO NORMAL eventually. I really value that element of predictability and control in my life. I think most of us do.
In all the wisdom provided by our old pal hindsight, I should’ve been grateful for the undistracted family time we had together….enjoyed the uniqueness of the moment and the memories we made. In short – kept the faith.
Easter looked and felt weird to us all yesterday. As have the past few weeks and months. Everything about this nationwide quarantine looks different, feels different seems different. It’s definitely tested most of us.
But, this too, shall pass.
We will all emerge soon from this “Life Interrupted” to congregate once again with our friends and families armed with our own unique stories to share. Tales of virtual Easter Egg hunts, Zoom family meetings, family quarantine-quibbles and more.
Humorous recollections will be intertwined with frightening memories of navigating through an unprecedented time of financial strain, aligned with fear for the very health of our loved ones, in tandem with uncertainty over the future of our societal infrastructure.
We won’t – none of us- come out of this the same. This surreal experience has put life in an entirely new perspective for us, not to mention what it’s done for our kids. (Parents, you don’t need me to tell you, this pandemic has probably taught our kids more life lessons than we’ve taught them ourselves since they were born.)
But, like most things, it has a beginning and an end. I strongly suspect we will all look back on it and remember the blessings. None of us will be the same, that’s for sure and certain.
***Just to be clear, I am not suggesting everyone go make a baby during this quarantine time period. The idea was mentioned solely for the purpose of a “literary life metaphor.” Not advocacy.
****Especially my own children.
*****All projects currently underway are joyfully anticipated, obviously.