Living on the East Coast has taught me one thing for certain: I am a West Coast girl.
For me, Tucson in particular is like walking through life with only a Lensbaby to capture the story. With no annoying details to distract from the purpose, a Lensbaby makes big-picture interesting by merging the surreal and romantic stuff of memories into the reality of right now.
In hindsight, I’m glad I landed after dark. It wasn’t raining, per se, not the sort of rain as Oregon knows rain, just a light dusting of moisture over the desert, making the streets glisten and a mess of windshields. Driving in the dark, distracted by the beauty and brightness of the stars and the permanence of the Santa Catalina Mountains to orient me, I was totally unprepared for what happened next: as I crossed over Broadway and Kino became Campbell, I started to cry. Happy to be home, I thought. But then I saw a building I’d seen so many times before, stucco with prickly pears along the entrance, and then I passed the Mall, and then an old haunt — all brought more tears. Driving through town evoked an overwhelming response that I did not expect. I’ve been so excited to return, it never even occurred to me that my beloved Tucson could make my cry.
I didn’t dare turn left on Speedway toward Euclid as habit wanted me to. I slept instead in the foothills, a big soft feathery bed anticipating a spectacular view (something I’d always wanted to do but sort of silly back in the days when I had an apartment across town and barely enough cash to buy dinner.) As I write this, the sun is brushing strips of light blue over Mt. Lemmon and the mountains are pushing back with gold. I’m thinking later this morning, after the sun has been around for awhile and I venture toward campus, I might be able to drive past my old studio apartment in the historic building. It’s awfully easy to be hard-boiled about things during the daytime; but at night it’s a different thing.
I didn’t bring my Lensbaby — I didn’t even bring my camera. Just me, my keyboard and ShakeIt. It’s going to be a delicious three days.