I was quite surprised, really.
The trip started off without a hitch- our flight was smooth, our room at The Westin in Phoenix was ready, the rental car was valet parked and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming if they had been my own grandmother, (she used to squak about our tardiness the moment we arrived, so already The Westin had one up on her).
I settled in to a cozy night’s sleep on a king sized cloud. I woke, earlier than I would have back east due to the time change, ravenous. For the first time in my life, I ordered room service.
As the cart rolled in I thought: who is this chick ordering room service? The coffee’s hot, the food looks delicious there under its metal protector, and I feel like I’m in a parallel universe living someone else’s privilege.
Then I realized all the shit I’ve been through- the years of fear-based indoctrination, abuse of all kinds, heartbreak, abandonment, exploitation and the like- brought me here, to this moment. It was in this moment I decided: it’s ok, Rebekah. You got yourself here and have nothing to feel guilty about.
Leaving Phoenix and heading to Tucson my mind was already planning our next move. I could fall in love with the desert and this landscape, easily. Saguaro cacti drawn into every sunset, the warmth of the sun and new wild critters to ogle, would be a welcome change of scenery. If we could each find work here, we‘d live like kings since the cost of living is far less compared to the east coast. My mind began to calculate my already-decided upcoming move.
We pulled into our Airbnb and immediately sunk into our own desert oasis where an outdoor bathroom, hot tub and elegantly lit yard welcomed us. Inside was a two-bedroom home, southwestern-style; deep blue and bright yellow paint dressed the rooms and every southwestern detail imaginable could be found in all corners. It was perfect.
Then the unexpected happened.
I didn’t fall in love. I loved mornings on the veranda overlooking mountains and the old saguaro in front of the house. I loved early sunrises with coffee while editing my memoir for the umpteenth time. I loved the food. I loved the people. I loved Old Tucson for the memories that came flooding back to me when I recalled going there with my family as a kid. I loved the silly, old-timey photos hubbyface and I had taken together. I loved spending time with friends I didn’t expect to see.
But I didn’t fall in love and I was shocked. In times past all we had to do was simply show up in a new location, buzzing with the unfamiliar, and hubbyface and I would start planning our exodus. That didn’t happen this time.
It wasn’t because Arizona didn’t offer amazing experiences accompanied by gorgeous views in lieu of our commerce- not one bit. It was for the simple fact, as shocking as it still is, that I… am… content? Holy fuck.
With almost every move across this beautiful country, there was an unnecessary sense of urgency and freakish control we’d pressure ourselves with. We fooled each other by saying: This is it! This is the place. When it wasn’t, our heads hung between our knees in shame.
On this trip, for the first time in a long time, I was simply happy and GASP! in the moment! Just being somewhere and enjoying the experience for what it was felt so liberating. Releasing myself from the pressure of uprooting ourselves again came with a whole new set of feelings. The most shocking one: feeling a bit homesick.
I wasn’t simply homesick for my bed, my friends or Sunday mornings at The Tilt’n Diner. I was most definitely homesick for my dogs, first and foremost. I felt homesick for the phantom woodpecker in my neighborhood- I’m always looking for him- and I missed stopping at my neighbor’s house while walking my dogs; they’re in love with her.
I missed the things that make my home what it is: the screen door that doesn’t close right, the creak of the living room floor, the bathroom tile that needs to take a walk, the stupid wannabe hand-me-down-shelf in the kitchen that the previous owners left here, the upstairs office I don’t use, the hubbub down at the lake on a nice day and the potholes on the dirt road leading to our little woodsy lake cottage.
I missed all that and then my wheels began turning. If someone as picky as I can find charm in those little things- why wouldn’t someone else? While roaming around Old Town Scottsdale I remembered several promises I made to myself when we moved back home:
- Finish and publish my memoir. That puppy was started in the 603, almost ten years ago, and I wanted to finish it in the 603; my soul knew that.
- Give back to the Deaf community that gave so much to me growing up.
- Find a quant home near seasonal, New England-type activities and leave it better than I found it- possibly start an Airbnb.
And that last one, was the thought; that was what got me excited to come home and stay for a good while. This house has serious potential and I realized, while walking past an upscale art shop our last day in Arizona, that the reason I never feel at home anywhere is because I don’t make it my home; I flat out refuse to.
This hit me just as hard as realizing my memoir needs a sequel. I think the 603 holds some great writing fodder.
Now, I don’t plan to stop traveling. Hell no. I’m a gypsy at heart and always will be; I got shot with the wanderlust arrow. I’d like to thank my dad for passing on his love of travel and adventure to me.
And who knows? On one of my many trips around the globe, I may find that place I can’t shake. The one that I feel in the marrow of my bones. The one that flashes like a neon sign: REBEKAH THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It could happen.
But the 603 is good for now. For now.