The Sanctuary I Seek


I lived in Phoenix for a very short time right after grad school. It was a somewhat confusing time in my life, but the aesthetics of the desertscape left a huge impact on my mind’s eye and it was clear that regardless of my internal chaos, I would always find the calm in the center of any storm by heading to the desert.  When I left the city I didn’t know if I’d ever come back, and on this long overdue return I hardly recognize the town. Gentrification has come to this once sleepy haven for the snowbirds (retirees) escaping their winters. Yes, of course you can still see them in their golf attire walking around town today–and perhaps that’s why this city always feels like it’s on  holiday to me–but now next to the endless array of golf resorts there are bars and restaurants full of swinging singles benefitting from the construction that must have mushroomed after my departure over a decade ago. Why couldn’t it have been this fun when I was there?

It’s a straight shot across the 10 freeway to get from LA to Phoenix, and along the way you cut through Palm Springs where you can see this wind farm. The mills are like stars…the longer you look, the more they appear across the horizon:


And as it’s on the way anyhow, I stop by one of my favorite outlet malls where I pick up this cardigan–Gucci is having an additional 50% off all RTW so I couldn’t resist:


After this quick shopping break, the rest of the drive is all desert. If you’re not the designated driver you’d probably snooze through most of the way, but I love looking at mountains and cacti and weeds and the way nature finds survival in such desolation. But let’s face it, after the 1000th cactus I do wish it were possible to teleport myself. 


It’s just before sunset that I make it to downtown Phoenix then into Scottsdale. The golden sun glares over the red mountains but I have to remove my sunglasses to take it all in. The effect is incredible; the entire landscape glistens before me like a silky mirage.


Other than the orange-red shimmer over this entire city, the first thing I notice is how beautifully the adobe houses blend into the desert landscape. The camouflage effect is so sublime yet powerful that I have the urge to race back to LA, pack up all my books (and shoes…and bags), and move to the mountains here. Could any of this be the sanctuary I seek?


Tomorrow I’ll take you into town.

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