From early teenhood, I yearned for the desert.
I wanted heat, dryness, cacti all around, sweeping vistas, sand dunes nearby.
Though I loved beaches, forests and water, I wanted something decidedly other – and made half baked plans to move someday during late night talks with my father.
I lived the first thirty years of my life in a coastal environment. Webs grew between my toes. I watched the state bird, the slug, crawl by. The state flower seemed to be mold. The green was pretty – all that green – that grew everywhere, including on the rubber work of too-long parked trucks, window sills, and under beds. I couldn’t smell the rain though it was everywhere.
Tragedy hit. The American economic downturn forced people out of their jobs, skyrocketed the prices of gas, and outsourcing was rampant. I lost my first house, a 110 year old place that I’d thought would be home.
We went on the road, my partner and I, packing everything we owned into a Hyundai Elantra. We lived rough in Nevada for a month and a half. Finally, the decision was made to head south, for frost was forming on our pillow and it was bitterly cold in the Blackrock Desert.
We moved south. Driving into Arizona, I felt an odd sense of welcome as I glimpsed my first redrock. I began to feel at home.
We camped in a backyard, I got another job, eventually an apartment. It was beautiful. It was nearly home. Hard work happened. Lots of it.
After six and a half years we found another place – a little rowhouse, in a quiet neighborhood filled with pine trees and eucalyptus, still with a view of the Catalinas that I love so well. There’s cactus and heat, there’s sunshine all year, I don’t miss the damp at all. There’s monsoons in the summer and I finally know the smell of rain.
We found our home.