Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Joe pool walking in 2015

Today I looked at the calendar and noted that Joe and Al and I moved to Arizona 365 days ago.  As I sat outside this morning in the sunshine and savored the sweet smell of the citrus blossoms, I thought about our move and all that has happened in that amount of the time, just one year. 

Well into the first week after we arrived, we were still recovering from the stress of a 1,100 mile road trip from Bend, Oregon.  We had just packed up, cleared a house, and said goodbye to a place we called home.  We’d left family and friends for the unknown and had become immigrants to the 48th state in the Union, famous for its arid desert landscape and hardnosed Maricopa County Sheriff (also named Joe).

Considering that Joe and I have moved over 10 times in our 35 year relationship, it wasn’t an altogether unfamiliar scene.  But there was something unique about this time.

I’ve heard people talk about buying their “forever home”, which I had never understood.  It sounded so narrow, so final.  Why would anyone want to stay in the same place for the rest of their life? 

For us, moving had always been an adventure and involved creating something.  It never was the end of anything, it was a beginning.  So why did this time feel different?

With this move, we were preparing.  We didn’t know exactly what would happen but we needed to be ready. With Al in the picture, we were now a threesome in an increasingly complicated relationship and we were definitely in for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  It was time to buckle up.

This was more than “downsizing” (we’d already done that).  This was ”Alsizing”, meaning getting into a manageable, maintainable, and practical state regardless of what type of mess Al might create for us.

In our younger years, Bend, Oregon had been our paradise.  We rushed to Bend every weekend we could and vacationed there in the summers.  From the time Joe was 42, that’s where we’d celebrated his birthday.  (He turns 77 in July.) We even managed to make Bend our home before we both retired. 

As time passed, we realized that we preferred golf balls over snowballs and began splitting our time between the warm southland of California and Bend’s high country.  (Well, not exactly an even split, the southland was getting to be a larger slice of the pie.)

At one point we decided splitting our residence was too complicated, so with some trepidation, we loaded up a moving van and the mighty SUV, said adios to new friends and headed back to the Oregon mountains determined to fare the winters.

That didn’t last long.

Somewhere along the way, with Al now a fully diagnosed family member, ice and snow and cold became our enemy.  There was no more pretending that we were going to partake in winter sports and slide down a mountain; and besides, we all three stunk at Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

Even though we loved summers in Bend, we had to stop our geographic schizophrenia, look Jack Frost in the eye, and say goodbye.  Like in the movie “Frozen” it was time to “let it go”.

So, how has it worked out?

That’s a good question with no simple answer. 

It was hard getting Joe and Al settled and comfortable in the new environment (change is not welcomed by Al).  We both miss family and friends left in Bend.  But, through it all, we managed to find a rhythm that worked for us and it certainly has not been business as usual.

The fitness facilities in our community are first rate and we discovered that pool walking (although it looks kind of ridiculous) is a great way to keep the body moving and well oiled.

We enjoyed refurbishing our little mid-century modern home and managed to survive a very hot first summer season. 

We celebrated Joe’s birthday in Sedona with a spectacular thunder storm and for the first time experienced a true monsoon (which was not highlighted in the travel brochures).

It’s been difficult to integrate into the community with Al being the anti-social kind of guys that he is.  We’ll continue to work on that, but it's been nice being closer to Joe's sister.

But most importantly, Joe is holding his own against Al.  Oh, they get into it fairly regularly, but Joe still wins a good portion of the time.

Snowwoman in 2012
Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I do occasionally think about Bend’s winter weather and miss the idea of making a snowman. I know that sounds childish, but I do.  I never felt more alive than just after getting a snowball in the face or having my fingers tingle as they thaw out from an afternoon of shoveling snow.

Wait a minute…I just remembered I hate cold.  Never mind all of that.

I’m putting on my flip flops and going outside on the patio to read, and I may walk over to see my neighbor.  I just checked our fancy thermometer and it’s 93 degrees right now.  The only cold thing I’ll enjoy today is a frosty glass of lemonade.

Year number two, SHOW US WHAT YOU'VE GOT!!