Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Desert Dreams

Fifty years ago I had tea parties with my imaginary pals, Cochise and Morningstar, Fury and Flicka, Rin Tin Tin and Sky King; I was always in my cowgirl best - dressed in cowboy boots and a bolo tie, western hat and a fringed vest. The closest neighbor child was five miles away. My friends were the characters from my favorite books and the cowboy TV shows always riding their horses around cactus and boulders somewhere in the Southwest.

Twenty five years later I was drinking mudslides in the same bar as J.F. K. Jr. and Carly Simon, deciding between outfits by Willy Wear and Norma Kamali to keep up with my island friends. I had spent six years in graduate schools and had earned several initials after my name. I vowed never to return to a life without city lights, a Barnes and Nobles down the block or a corner espresso stand.

Today I drink coffee on my balcony with a view of Cochise Stronghold, where the Apache warrior's remains were secretly placed over one hundred years ago. I can see the Dragoon Mountains where the Lone Ranger was filmed. I alternate between a stretched out swim suit and flip flops in summer to the winter wear of worn cowboy boots, faded Levis, and a wide brimmed straw hat , very similar to my togs of fifty years ago.

I don't have tea parties, but I do have many happy hours with visiting friends from other times and places drinking dirty martinis laced with a jalapeno stuffed olives and munching on locally grown pistachios. I don't watch those TV Westerns of my childhood, but I am torn between the horse and rider shows on RFD TV and the Colbert Nation in the evening.

I did not return to the cornfields and wheat fields of Illinois where I grew up , or the beaches of Martha's Vineyard which was my 1980's utopia, but I am in the foothills of the Dos Cabezas with my patient handsome husband, my ex-drug smuggling Appaloosa, my gentle, but spirited Paso Fino, an Australian shepherd smarter than I am, an aloof llama, an inquisitive alpaca, a magical burro, a giant 8 year old pound puppy, a coyote cross canine, and three spoiled cats. The closest thing to city lights is the sparkling of the Milky Way; to get a latte is a thirty minute drive. There are no Borders Bookstores within a hundred miles, but the county bookmobile comes once a month and I can get my best sellers for free. I am living my desert dream.

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