The notion that I feel in many ways like a foreigner in a strange land is unsettling and for as much as I truly enjoy being here, I don't belong to this place yet as I do my beloved south land. At times the realization that I'm two thousand miles from home and everything that ever fit me seamlessly up until last week makes me stand completely still, trying to decide if I need to cry over the death of 'normal' to get some of it out of my system, or if I just need to take those moments and close my eyes, breathe deeply, and then exhale. I seem to be doing that a lot lately, both deliberately and inadvertently. I never know from one minute to the next if this one is a regular minute of a really big one and it is a bit confusing. I'll get it figured out eventually.
In the meantime, I'm relying on my senses. I didn't know as a child how soothing being outside to play can really be. Since I've been here I've relearned that going out under the open sky and walking down a new path that could lead me anywhere and it will all be brand new and different until it becomes familiar is a lot like going out to play used to be. I get to smell the fresh cut grass and the redolent sweetness of the two story tall white oleander just on the other side of my living room window or the citrus trees that seem to be growing everywhere. Here in the foothills of South Mountain there are trees everywhere, and being so close to the foot of the mountain there is a near constant cool and gentle breeze, so the air is never really still and each tree's leaves and branches play a different sound against all of that rushing air. I can hear and feel the crunch of tiny desert rocks groaning beneath my shoes when I stray off the sidewalk and closer to the mountain that shares a boundary with my neighborhood, they're brick red and purple and jagged. Perhaps to the ants they're mountains themselves, but to me they're only the brittle, broken bone fragments of the mountain I now live next door to. Perhaps they're an offering of sorts, I haven't decided yet. I have hours to do that. Always, the hours.
Yesterday on my walk through the neighborhood I stopped and touched the flesh of a giant saguaro cactus, the tall, mammoth, tree sized ones you think of when images of the desert southwest come to mind. I was walking past it and admiring how graceful it managed to stand on the roadside and it occurred to me that I had never really touched one before, so I did. I carefully ran my fingertips along the spines jutting out like two inch long needles, pushing against them at the point and letting them snap back into the airspace they claimed. I pressed my fingers gently where the ribs of the cactus' trunk meet and join, and was surprised to discover that it didn't feel as soft as I imagined it would. It felt rather like a ripe watermelon that yields to pressure and was just as smooth. It made me smile.
Already I miss the rain from back home, but I'm so glad it's not cold here.
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