His grave is a pyramid topped with a copper silhouette of a camel. He died while he was trying to round up a camel who had been scaring the people in the Arizona desert. He was lying next to a dead camel with one of his arms wrapped around the camel’s neck. He died in 1902.
He was a Greek-Syrian and his name was Haji Ali.
Everyone who knew him could not pronounce his name so they gave him the name of Hi Jolly. He was born with the name Philip Tedro. He changed his name to Haji Ali when he converted to Islam.
He worked for the American Government
On March 3, 1855, lawmakers appropriated thirty thousand dollars for a project called the US Camel Corps. Thirty-five camels and five camel drivers were sent to the US. The climate in the Southwest was hot and the terrain was rugged. This proved to be rough for the horses. The experiment with the camels was put into place. Camels didn’t need as much water and could walk longer distances. One of those brave camel drivers was Hi Jolly.
The US Camel Corps came to an end
The camels terrorized the horses, dogs, chickens, and other animals. They bit and spit.
The camels were released into the desert and wandered around. Hi Jolly tried to round them up and put them to work.
Hi Jolly tried to become an entrepreneur
He established a freight line using the camels from Yuma to Tucson. The venture failed because Hi Jolly was not a good businessman.
He became an American citizen in 1880
He worked for the army as a packer and scout at Fort McDowell. He got married and had two children.
He abandoned his family and went looking for gold
He wandered through the desert but never found his pot of gold.
Hi Jolly was one of the many men who perished while wandering in the mountains and deserts looking for gold.
Plans to walk in the steps of the Shogun, eat yakitori on the street, visit Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and the Imperial Gardens were washed away by a typhoon on October 12, 2019.
Now, what. I had pet sitters from Australia in my home until October 24. My friend Ruth Ann and I put together a plan. Take a Route 66 road trip. Ruth Ann and I have the same adventurous spirit. We mapped out a plan and reserved our hotel rooms. We were ready.
The first hotel was built in 1887 but burnt down in 1914. La Posada was rebuilt and opened in 1930. The Santa Fe Railroad stops in Williams and many passengers disembark and stay at the Posada an oasis in the desert. It is the last hotel standing which employed the Harvey Girls.
The hotel is pricey. Don’t pass up having dessert or lunch in the Turquoise Room.
We traveled to Holbrook to spend the night. We arrived in the dark after driving miles out of the way because Ruth Ann decided she knew where she was going. The directions on the GPS pointed in another direction. The closer we got to Alberquerque, my trusty driver, Ruth Ann, decided to listen to my directions. We turned around on I40 and Ruth was determined to find wigwams by the side of the road. We didn’t.
Ruth Anne’s dream was to stay at the Wigwam Hotel. That is why she was looking for wigwams. My directions led us to the Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook. We parked the car and walked into the reception room.
A young girl was sitting on the couch watching TV and munching on popcorn.
“We have reservations for tonight,” I said
“It’s the one in California.” She replied
Ruth Ann and I looked at each other wondering why she thought we had made a reservation in California.
“I made the reservation online.” Ruth Ann insisted
“No, I think I made the reservation. Can you look to see if our name is in your system?” I said
“No, it’s for the one in California. Our guests have all checked in.”
Ruth Ann and I are confused.
“Do you have any rooms available?”
“No, we are full.”
We went out to the car and looked at each other again and broke out in laughter. We drove to the next streetlight and took a left. There were more hotels.
We stopped at Best Western and got a room with a free breakfast.
The next morning we went back to the Wigwam Hotel to take pictures. It was not what we expected. The people who had stayed the night before were all motorcyclists. The wigwams had no windows and were very small. We were relieved that they did not have a reservation for us.
Our next trip will take us to the Wigwam in California some other day.
Ashfork is part of the longest original section of Route 66, ninety-two miles from Flagstaff. The population of Ash Fork is three hundred sixty people. It is the highest desert town in Arizona surrounded by National Forests. Ash Fork burnt to the ground in 1893.
The only restroom available is inside the Ash Fork Route 66 museum.
Once you step into the museum you experience the southwest history of more than one hundred and fifty years. The museum has a collection of various items from time in the past. Colorful rugs, pottery, and other nicknacks are on the walls, floors, and bookshelves.
A full-scale model of the Escalante Hotel (1906-1948) is on display. One of the Harvey Girls who was left behind in the rush to get out of town sits at the piano waiting for someone to make a request for her to play a song.
Note: There are no hotels or restaurants in town.
Our next stop was Seligman, AZ. at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap restaurant built out of scrap lumber in 1953 right next to an old Texaco station. Over 500,000 out-of-state cars passed through the Arizona portion of Route 66 in 1937. In 1978 I-40 opened up and towns like Seligman were left in the dust because people found it faster traveling the interstate.
Route 66’s heyday was over. Delgadillo’s is the only restaurant to survive. Its Cheeseburgers are made with real cheese and the fried chicken makes use of dead chickens.
The walls of Delgadillo’s are plastered with money, business cards, and messages from all over the world. You will be squirted with mustard as you order but no need to worry, it is not real. The people who take your order will give you a quirky name to answer to when your order is ready.
As you wait, take a walk around the place. Green, pink, and red metal lawn chairs waiting for you to sit and get comfortable. An antique white truck sits in the front of the restaurant with a Santa sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands on the steering wheel waiting to take you for a ride.
Sit at the picnic table and enjoy the life of the past.
Note: There are no hotels in the town. Restrooms are found outside of the restaurant.
Do you want a unique experience on Route 66? Stay at the El Trovatore. The outside walls are painted with murals honoring famous cartoons and a map of Route 66. The rates are cheap and the rooms are themed. There is nothing fancy about this hotel. We woke up and there was no hot water.
Mr. D’s is an iconic place to eat. The menu is extensive and the decor is from way back when. Elvis stands to the side of the entrance waiting for you to take a selfie.
Spaniards came to Kingman looking for gold in the 1500s. The first camel corps lead by Edward Beale located water near downtown Kingman while surveying the land to build a wagon road. Unlike most of the towns on Route 66, Kingman is a thriving little town. Tourism helps to keep the town alive.
Ther are places of entertainment, museums and historic sited, parks, and hiking trails. Choices of restaurants and hotels are abundant.
This is a one-horse town or maybe a one-car town. Don’t drive fast on this stretch or you will drive by the only gift shop for another fifty miles.
The couple who owns the shop is very friendly. The owner gets angry if you don’t park in the designated parking spots. He offers to take your picture while you get your kicks on Route 66.
Note: There is a small public restroom. You can buy sandwiches, hot dogs and drinks.
Donkeys (Burros) rule this town.
Oatman is another deserted mine from times gone by. It is now a tourist destination (trap) where everyone can get to know a donkey. They wander the streets and don’t belong to anyone in particular. They wait outside the candy store for unsuspecting visitors who have opened bags of chocolates and try to grab your purchase. There is a sign hanging on the inside of the store warning visitors to guard their stash of candy because of the four-footed thieves waiting patiently outside for their sugar fix.
There are “donkey treats” you can buy at the end of the street.
Oatman’s “wild” burros are the descendants of burros brought here by the miners in the late 1800s; when the miners no longer needed them, they were turned loose. Each morning they come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists. Burro pellets and carrots are for sale at many of the shops — the burros will eat all day if you feed them. Shortly before sunset they wander back to the hills for the night.
The Arizona State Capitol Building does not have a gold plated dome, copper chandeliers or turquoise gems. It is small and simple.
Bryan Deppa designed the Capitol building in 1898. The US president gave Arizona $100,000.00 to help with expenses. It was renovated by Gerald Doyle in the 1970s.
James Reily Gordman donated the land on which the Capitol sits. He owned the buildings around the property and was hoping to make a profit from the homes and apartments. The land he donated was a park.
The builders used local materials and manual labor. The granite came from South Mountain and makes up the first floor of the building. Malapai rock came from Camelback Mountain and used for the second floor. Tuff stone came from Yavapai county and was used on the top floor. The wood was collected from five different states.
The Weather Vane is in the shape of NIKE, the Greek goddess of victory, sits on top of the dome. The Weather Vane was given the name Winged Victory. She was purchased for $160 from an architectural catalog. When she was first installed the cowboys of the days would ride by and use her for target practice. Bullet holes riddled her body until they took her down to give her a makeover. She still has a few bullet holes left.
The Original dome was not made of copper. It was too expensive at the time. It was built of sheet metal and painted the color of copper.
Arizona is known for the five Cs. Copper, Climate, Cotton, Cattle and Citrus. The state seal is missing the cow. An Ohio man designed the seal without ever visiting Arizona. The seal arrived and was installed as a mosaic. The mistake of the missing cow was expensive to fix. The seal was left in its original condition.
In 1957 Frank Lloyd Wright submitted his proposal for a new capital building. It was rejected because of the expense. He wanted to move the capitol building to Tempe which would have violated the Arizona Constitution.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a walk around the town of Prescott and venture off the beaten path. You will be rewarded the view of these murals inspired by artists from around the world.
My description of these works of art would interfere with your interpretation. I will not provide a description. I ask you to look at them carefully and reflect on what you see.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Traveling is wandering. When you have the time to wander you find places not listed in the “must see” events listed in a guide book or on an app. Take the time to look around and let me know if you find something you didn’t expect to see.
Imagine living with six thousand people in the middle of the desert. Your housing unit is stacked on top of another making the building a honeycomb structure.
You would take part in musical performances in the lower levels of the structure. This structure fills up with water during a performance. The water comes from below the surface.
You have a kitchen to prepare your food. The nearest town with a village supermarket is fifteen miles away. The road is not paved and has mud crevices on both sides. Not a place you want to travel after or during a rain. You and your 5,999 neighbors would grow all of the food you need to eat in the middle of the desert and not much grows without an underground water source. A community cafeteria prepares food where you can sit and eat and get along with all of your neighbors. There is only one problem. The cook left because there was no money to pay him and now the cafeteria is empty. There is a coke machine with a few bottles of soda and water.
Paolo Solari, an Italian and an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, planned to
build a futuristic utopian city. No cars or any other types of public
transportation would exist. Volunteers, artists, and concrete people would volunteer
to make the place come alive.
It didn’t work out the way Solari planned. He was short on money. The
volunteers had no money and were working for a free space to live. They built
the walls from concrete, silt dug up from the desert soil. Solari like his
teacher and mentor Frank Lloyd Wright built with concrete cast in the earth.
They were both organic architects. Solari’s vision was to develop a
civilization, Wright’s vision was to develop for urbanization. Solari referred
to Wright’s vision as a failure.
Olive and fig trees provide shade for the summer and help to keep the
buildings cool. The total land space is 4400 acres. The people who live here
are part of an urban experiment. Seventy-five people inhabit the limited living
space. Students live in the upper apartments in shared spaces and don’t have
cooking facilities in their rooms. They have a bed, a desk, and a lamp and very
few personal items. Our tour guide lives in one of the shared spaces. She makes
$250 per month from tips that the guests leave with her after the tour. Her
rent is free and she works eight hours a day. She lives here because she feels
that there is too much stimulation in the outside world. She likes the peacefulness
of her living situation. She doesn’t feel lonely because there is always
someone to talk too. Every window in the living quarters looks out onto the
untouched desert. There is a trail that leads to the bottom of the gorge.
Solari’s idea sprung from “arcology”. Architecture and ecology, a field of creating architectural design principles for densely populated ecologically low impact human habitats. There is shading in summer and a greenhouse effect is used for heat in the winter. The idea is to densify the living space and conserve the natural environment. The place is isolated. There is experimental gardening. The idea is to grow up, not out. There are an amphitheater and performance center. Different activities take place during the year and the public is invited to attend. The idea is that arcology settlements could solve the problems that society deals with. Loneliness, spending too much money, becoming greedy, and only thinking about yourself. The money earned to keep the place up is the sale of Solari’s bells which are made on site.
The occupants of the buildings share in the cleaning of the public spaces. There are no janitors, policemen, doctors, or hospitals. People take care of each other. The people who live here are the CEO, painters, potters, an art instructor who travels to Prescott to teach in a community college. One child lives on campus and is home schooled. The rent and the cost of living are low and the pay is minimal.
The “city” is being built without money or professionals. Failure
and success are part of the deal. How can the next step be made more promising
than the last?
Solari passed away and left his people to figure out how to proceed without
him. His dream and vision live on. There is no foundation to guide everyone.
The current CEO has been on the board for less than one year.
The lessons we can learn on the impact of human habitation or any given
ecosystem could be self-sustenance to reduce the human impact on natural
resources. Pedestrian economies have proven to be difficult to achieve in other
ways. Can society move backward?
Arcosanti was established in 1970 and is still a work in progress.
Arcosanti is located on I75 going North. The road leading to Arcosanti is not paved. The entrance fee is a donation of $10 per person. There are no eating or drinking facilities on the campus. You can take your dog on the tour.
Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. One of Arizona’s first “snowbirds”arriving in early October and returning to his summer home in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Taliesin West became a UNESCO World Heritage site on July 7, 2019
2. The Desert Lab
Mr. Wright bought six hundred acres for $3.75 an acre in 1936. He described the view as “a look over the rim of the world”.
He referred to Taliesin as his Desert Lab. He devised a “light canvas-covered redwood frame-work resting on massive stone masonry that belonged to the mountain slopes around the property”. It was his first time to use desert construction materials.
He used a trial and error form of building. He built a wall and if it fell down, he would reconstruct until the wall held it’s form. He never tired of trying new experiments with new material. He had to use steel instead of redwood because it could not adapt to the desert elements. The desert was dry and the redwood splintered.
3. Ship in the Desert
Frank Lloyd Wright spent time on ships going back and forth to Europe and Asia. He traveled to Europe with his girlfriend, Mamah Bouton Bothwick.
She was murdered by a disgruntled employee when he set fire to Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
He was also able to escape his creditors while sailing across the ocean. There were no cell phones at the time.
4. The Apprentices built Taliesin for Mr. Wright
Mr. Wright had between fifteen to thirty apprentices working without pay. Some of his detractors referred to it as slavery. The apprentices stayed for four to five months, others came and never left.
They worked in the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright and few well known architects emerged from his group. The apprentices paid up to $1,100.00 per year for room and board.
There are three senor apprentices in their early nineties living on campus.
5. The School of Architecture at Taliesin
Taliesin West is the home to the School of Architecture at Taliesin. It is the smallest school of Architecture in the United States, thirty -forty students per year.
The students attend classes from October to May and return to Spring Green for summer classes.
The school offers a three year Masters Program in Architecture. It is small, experimental, and focused on learning by doing. It became fully accredited in 1987.
6. A collector of Asian art
Frank Lloyd was know for being one of the biggest collectors of Asian art in the 1920 -1930. Much of his collection is now housed with the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.
Asian art had a big impact on the design of his buildings. Taliesin West brings out both the Asian and Southwest influence that inspired Mr. Right.
Mr. Wrights apprentices acquired twenty four Asian pieces in Chinatown, San Francisco. Their heads were chopped off along with their arms and noses. These pieces were placed in areas of transition on the property of Taliesin West.
The red plaque has the signature of Mr. Wright. There are twenty-seven around the USA. Mr. Wright handed them out to people who were enthusiastic about the work he had performed in building their home. He not only built their home and their furniture, he told them where to place the furniture. They were told to never move it.
Those are the people awarded the special red signature plaque.
7. The Garden Room
The Garden Room has a view of the mountains and the desert scenery.
It was the place of entertainment. Mr. Wright required that his female apprentices wear evening gowns and the males wear three piece suits when he entertained clients in the Garden Room. They paraded around with the snacks and drinks serving the many famous clients who visited Mr. Wright.
When the Garden Room was first built, there were no windows. The roof was covered with canvas which was removed when they packed up to move back to Wisconsin.
Frank Lloyd Wright was the first to create a Great Room. The Garden Room is a Great Room, a place to entertain his clients.
8. Mr. Wright’s Office
The office was the the first building on campus.
The office didn’t have windows for almost five years. When the Wrights left town the dust storms and small animals would leave a mess that had to be cleaned up when they returned. Mrs. Wright suggested they add windows. The other buildings began to get windows soon after.
The Guggenheim Museum and Grady Gammage Auditorium on Arizona State University’s campus along with many private homes were designed in this room.
The design in the background was submitted by Mr. Wright in 1957 to the city of Phoenix as a replacement for the current capital building. It never happened. He was ninety years old at the time.
The six sided chairs were designed for the first Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
The round back chairs were designed for the Midway Gardens outside of Chicago that was closed down in the 1920’s because of prohibition.
9. Shining Brow
Taliesin means Shining Brow. Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t believe one should build on top of a mountain, but in the brow of the mountain.
The building at Taliesin can’t be seen until the gate is in view. This was part of the organic architectural design of Mr. Wright.
The logo for Taliesin is in the shape of a whirling arrow on the petroglyph in front of the entrance to the office. Mr. Wright noticed that the logo is in the shape of two hands clasping together in a welcome sign. There are five petroglyphs placed around the campus. All of them were found on the property.
10. Desert Shelters
Students of the School of Architecture live as the apprentices long before them in desert shelters. There are sixty-four of them and students choose which one is going to be there home for six months. The shelters are built with the same materials used by the apprentices, quartzite, sand, glass, redwood or steel, and canvas.
There is no electricity, plumbing, or drinking water. The students come into the locker area to shower and use the bathroom. Many of the students have installed solar panels to help them charge their cell phones and other electronic gadgets.
Students are required to remodel one of the shelters for their thesis statement .
11. The Dinner Bell
The dinner bell rings at 12:30 for lunch and 6:30 p.m. for dinner. Students and those who reside on campus eat together in the dining room.
Taliesin West is a unique place to visit. You can take photos, sit on the furniture, and admire the scenery. Tours are given everyday with reservations.
I am a Saguaro Cactus. I am the green
giant that defines the Arizona desert in the Southwest corner. My friends and I
stand as soldiers protecting the desert. My arms bend upward and can number up
to twenty-five. I am covered with small spines that protect me from the animals
in the desert. I am so strong that high winds cannot blow me over. My rib cage
keeps me standing tall.
No one eats me because of my spines. I provide water for those who are lost
in the desert. In the Spring white flowers bloom all over my arms like pearl
bracelets after sunset and close up in midafternoon. I produce a bitter pink/red
fruit which is pulled down with poles and made into sweet jelly used by the
native Americans and sold in the souvenir shops at the airport and hotels. I am
the Saguaro Cactus. I never move. I stand here in the heat of the summer and
the coolness of the winter. I get most of my moisture in the summer rainy
Desert plants: yellow bells, paloverde trees, beavertail, prickly pear,
compass barrel, Engelmann’s hedgehog, fire sticks, agave, prairie zinnia,
saguaro cactus, and mesquite bushes cover the southwest desert floor on which I
Desert animals: Gila monster, rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, coral
snakes, brown spiders, coyotes, prairie dogs, rabbits, bobcats, and javelina
(wild pigs) wander in and out not bothering to pay attention to me.
I can live up to 150-200 years old. I can be forty to sixty feet tall and
weigh between 3,200-4,800 lbs. After my death, the woody ribs that are exposed
are used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. People who survive in
the desert use my leftover ribs for firewood. Birds build their nests inside my
trunk when I die and when I am alive. I provide a safe space for them to lay
their eggs, nurse their chicks, and teach them to fly from the nest. In the
Spring white flowers bloom after sunset and close in the midafternoon.
Honey bees, bats, and white-winged doves help to pollinate my flowers. Gila
woodpeckers, purple martins, and house finches live inside the wholes of my
body. I am an important source of food and shelter for the Tohono O’odham tribe
and my needles are used as sewing needles.
I appear on postcards, commercials, billboards, and travel magazines. No one
leaves Arizona without a picture of me. I am so special. Saguaros like me are
not found outside of the Southwest part of the USA. I am the state flower of
Arizona. My arms grow after I reach fifteen feet tall and seventy-five years
old. The tallest of my family is about 200 years old. I can hold about a ton of
water. This is good because sometimes I go without a drink for six to seven
Being a saguaro is not easy. I have to stand here all day long with nothing
to do. I gaze at the moon and the constellations of the stars in the dark
night. I am really happy when a woodpecker begins pecking a hole in my body. I
know that soon a family will settle and keep me company when I feel lonely out
here in the desert.
I see jackrabbits scurrying around for their food. The jackrabbit’s ears
stick straight up, and they have white cotton tails. I hear coyotes in the
distance howling. One of the coyotes caught a jackrabbit and ate it for dinner.
The coyotes eat just about everything they can get into their mouths. Snakes
roam the desert floor slithering around looking for food. Their food of choice
is the desert rat. The snake sucks the desert rat down his throat forming a
small bulge in his stomach. No one eats me because I have too many needles and
it takes too long to remove them. Native Americans harvest my fruit and it
sometimes hurts. People thrust their poles into my sides and knock the fruit
down. The fruit falls with a drop to the floor and rolls over. My ribcage has
been poked and I will feel the pain for the next three days.
I like living in the desert. At night it gets very dark and the stars
twinkle, and the moon shines brightly. This is the best time of the night. No
one is around. Everyone is asleep. I sleep too. Tomorrow will be another day to
ponder my life as a saguaro cactus standing in the desert in Southwest Arizona.
The Arizona desert has so many surprises for those who venture out to visit
me. People who hike come and take pictures of me and my friends and family.
Stop looking at me in the magazines and travel guides. Get off the sofa and
come pay me a visit. I don’t bite. I am not poisonous, and I will let you take
as many pictures as possible.
Come visit me and I will show you how friendly I can be.
It is raining. I am feeling happy. My friends in the Midwest would probably not agree with me. Rain in the Midwest is an unwanted guest. It arrives at graduations, carefully planned weddings, summer BBQs and state fairs. I can’t count the time’s events were canceled and rescheduled when I lived in Michigan.
The lighting would cut the dark black sky in half and perform the most spectacular fireworks display. The thunder would shake the house until I was convinced the house was strong enough to last. Hurricanes in Japan scared me the most. The rain beat against the outside aluminum doors used to protect the windows from getting broken. The sky would turn a very dark color, and a strong wind began to blow. The house would shake back and forth, and I would hide under the blankets. I never knew if we were going to escape these storms. We always did. I was born a desert rat.
My husband was fascinated with the weather. He would stand out on the patio while I pleaded for him to come in. I didn’t want him to get hit by a bolt of lighting.
I obtained a whole new vocabulary of weather terms while living in Michigan: black ice, whiteouts, lake effect snow, blizzards, tornados, and gustnados (a term invented by the insurance companies so they wouldn’t have to pay for damages).
I moved back to Phoenix, AZ after living away for more than 42 years. We have monsoons, dust storms, haboobs (a word taken from the Arabic language meaning powerful dust storm), and flash flooding.
Phoenicians don’t know what to do when it rains. They slow down on the freeways or speed up on the local streets. The rain causes flooding in the desert. There is nowhere for the water to go. Washes are constructed with river rock to guide the water to run off into various valleys of the desert instead of the streets.
Signs are posted everywhere warning drivers not to drive in areas when it rains. People don’t read the signs. Many natives and visitors are not aware of the dangers rain causes in the desert areas. They drive past signs warning them not to operate in this area when flooded. They end up in ditches or dips in the roads that have flooded. They get stuck in the sand and water and have to be rescued.
I am happy for the rain because it makes the flowers bloom and the other plants to multiply. The desert is beautiful after the storm. The smell of the wet dirt, howls of coyotes, and the sound of chirping birds. Rain in the desert is a welcome relief of the constant heat we have felt for the last six months.
Finding an old friend is like finding a lost treasure.
Anthony Douglas Williams
I don’t remember much about my High School classmates. What are their memories of me? I didn’t really like High School. I wasn’t popular. I didn’t excel in sports or academics. I dog-paddled my way to graduation. After graduation, I left my home, my city, my state, and my country. I didn’t come back to live until 2010, forty-five years later.
I sit in a pink plastic Adrindock chair on the front porch of a rented Airbnb in Sedona, Arizona. I have a glass of red wine in my right hand. I am mesmerized by the full moon encased in a very thin cloud above the peak of the mountain right in front of our rental. It is very quiet except for the voices of four women sharing their stories and laughing. We are reconnecting. After communicating with each other for almost one year on Facebook we decide to have an adult “slumber party” with wine, lots of wine, crackers, and cheese sounded like a great idea. This brings us to the Airbnb in Sedona.
We sit on the porch sipping our Arizona produced wine supplied to us by Nancy who is an Arizona wine connoisseur. Myra, Nancy, and Shelly tell stories about some of our other classmates. I don’t remember many of them. Their names sound familiar, but I can only match up a few of them in my mind. Why can’t I remember these people? Nancy tells us about her grandchildren and how she gets along with both her ex-husband and her now husband. Shelly tells us about taking care of her aging mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Myra tells us about her children and how she thinks about their future. Both Myra and I lost our husbands to cancer in the last three years. I tell stories of my travels and previous life. First living in Mexico, then living in Japan, followed by living in Michigan. The end of the journey was moving back to Arizona. We try to fill in the memory gaps. I am the only one who seems to have memory gaps. I don’t feel too bad because Myra also suffers from memory gaps too. Not as much as I do.
What happened to me? Why can’t I remember my classmates from Bourgade High School?
We talk, eat, and drink for two days. We get to know each other once again. I feel like I have found three new friends. We visit wineries in Page Springs, eat cheese and crackers, and chocolate, we stop at antique and clothing stores. We eat dinner in town, drive back to the cabin, open another bottle of Arizona wine, and continue to talk. We talk about our families, other classmates, those who have passed away, those who are sick, and those who are doing well.
I wasn’t sure if we would get along. We could just pretend that we liked each other. That was not the case. I am so happy to have this great group of women as friends. I don’t remember being their friends in High School, but I don’t need to. They are my friends now, and we have a whole new future to continue our new found friendship.
Reconnecting is not all that hard and has its benefits. We can relate to each other as adult women with experiences, grown children, and work experience. No permission slips needed.