Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does it have to be Arizona?

My supportive but bewildered husband asked me "Does it have to be Arizona?"

Answering took a moment as a lump filled my throat and tears blurred my eyes.

When I was in Arizona this past July getting Cory settled in his first apartment I was dealing with all kinds of 43 year old Mama anxiety.  The day I left I was taken back to a 9 year old girls pain and dispair.

After having lunch with Cory and my Dad we had plenty of time before my flight back to Houston.  Dad was driving us around Phoenix giving Cory a tour.  Looking through the windshield the dusty brown landscape seemed to repeat itself until suddenly some landmarks and street signs became familiar. When I saw the dome shaped Rollero skating rink I knew where we were headed.
I felt my heart rate quicken, my stomach became queasy, my mouth was thick.  We were going to the house.

We drove down a street I knew but somehow it all seemed dwarfed.  The houses were squatty with dirt front yards not the lush lawns I remember and there were no children.  My Dad and I chatted about the houses and the people who lived and died here a lifetime ago.
He stopped in front of the house I lived in as a child. Without thinking I got out of the car and stepped on the broken sidewalk.  I knew this was the house but it was so different in person, surely the front yard had shrunk. Memories are liars sometimes. We tell ourselves what we need to get by and the rest are lies.

I stood at the end of the driveway.  Part of me, the 5'9" hear me roar strong woman part, felt compelled to knock on the door.  I stared at the front door willing it to open but when it did I froze. I explained to the curious home owners, an older gentleman and young girl, I lived here as a child. Translating, smiling and head nodding insued.
Though not invited I felt if I walked through the door I would disappear.
Suddenly I was a 60 pound, 9 year old girl with stringy dishwater blonde hair and dirty, calloused feet.  Overcome by fear, anxiety, helplessness, I was tiny and vulnerable.  For the first time in a long time I felt like a victim which made me mourn for the girl I was and angry at him. I wanted to hold her, the 9 year old girl nobody had time for, and tell her it was going to be OK. I found myself swaying.  I was rocking myself and patting my chest.
The neighborhood made Cory uneasy, he kept asking me to get back in the car.  My Dad was oblivious he had taken me to a virtual rabbit hole.

My Mom hates Arizona. She left as soon as she could and has only been back once for my sisters wedding.  This always made me sad.
I was born there and lived what should have been an innocent and lovely time of childhood in this arid desert with breathtaking sunsets. I felt her hating Arizona was almost like hating my childhood.
As I sat in the car, airport bound, I was washed over with understanding.  I hated Arizona, Phoenix, Clarendon, 8151.
The place my innocence was stolen from me by an evil opportunist.

I am not comfortable with the victim role. I decided long ago I wasn't going to let him have that kind of power over me.  My son lives in Arizona now, this is his home. I don't want to hate it, he may decide to live there forever.  I also don't want to feel small, vulnerable and anxious when I visit him.

I decided it was time to take Arizona back.

Yes, it has to be Arizona.

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