I don't remember the exact day we decided to move to Arizona, somewhere in the middle of May, I think. There were two reasons that seemed to supersede all others. One was to be closer to our grandson who is 17 months old. We have bonded with him, and he with us, and knowing the world we live in, this seemed to be our last "assignment," to assist him in any way we can to grasp the "reality" of planet earth. And to support his parents. The second was perhaps more selfish, or maybe that is selfless. It occurred to us that we were each nearing the end of our experience here, not just in Oregon, but also this life. We looked around, at our existence, at our material possessions, our abundance, at our clutter; and we realized that there would not, in a year or two, be an opportunity to change any of it, to get closer to the support of family, to clear away that which we no longer required, in short, to make it easier for those who would have to "sweep up" after us.
When my grandmother died, and I was much younger, I helped my aunt clean out her house. Now don't get me wrong. My grandmother was one of my all-time favorite people, and I loved her. And while I would not call her a hoarder, she was certainly a "collecter." As we went through her attic, we realized that each year she bought a large amount of wrapping paper at Christmas. It was layered, with the occasional card thrown in. We realized that you could date the year by these cards. It resembled an archeological dig. While we were willing to do this clean up, I realized, perhaps much later on, that it was a big and stressful job. This we hoped to spare our children.
So we started packing, and yes, this too was stressful, to disassemble the life that each of us considered the best part of our still brief lives here on planet earth. And as the boxes grew in number, so too the anxiety. What the hell were we doing, and would it work? The plan would require selling an artistic sort of cottage (yes, in a sellers market) and buying a new one in Arizona. Secondly it would involve moving so much stuff into the desert. Truthfully, it was frightening. And then there was the cat. How would we get her there, a sweet being who had known only her humble beginning at the Royal Avenue Crisis Program, and a life in the perfect cat yard, in Oregon. How would we drive a ten year old car, and this poor, unknowing cat 1900 miles, into the desert?
And just when it all seemed too much, the perfect plan "fell into place." Our house sold in less than a week, we made a whirlwind tour of Arizona, ending up finding the right place, the first house we looked at actually, and we found a solution to the cat dilemma. We would pack it all into a U-Haul, and son and grandson would drive the twenty-six footer into the desert. We would fly with the cat, still no mean feat, though our vet was willing to assist us with drugs (surprisingly Neurontin, a pain treatment for neuropathy in humans, a sedative for cats). We loaded that truck to the gills (despite gifting or throwing away so many things), and the kids headed out on their great adventure through Nevada, and into Arizona's desert heat. They made easily despite being mistaken for bandits in some crazy clown town in Nevada. The flying cat made it pretty easily as well, despite a howl or two on landing. The two families celebrated that night at a Mexican restaurant in Mesa. We closed on the house, and moved in that weekend.
And you would think that would have been the end of our struggle, the beginning of our last phase. It was not. There was a further problem. We bought the house, in a gated community, "as is," meaning, in this case, we bought it with the furniture. It turned out that the previous owners could not return, and left their furniture, and much, much more behind. Add to this the contents of the 26 foot truck, and you had, no other way to put it, gridlock. So after a little more than a week of shifting the contents from here to there, garage to house, and then in some case back to garage, way too much lifting,and too much heat; the inside of the house is now ours, our paintings, our touch, and is beautiful. And though the garage remains full, in time it too will be conquered, and I believe we will be happy here in the last chapter of our lives. We retain old memories, of good days in Oregon, of good friends, those who helped us on our move, friend Richard, our Boise and Tibetan families; and there will be new memories with our family in Mesa.
Already we have had a grandson moment, sitting with him over the past weekend so the kids could have a night out. We struggle with the heat, but manage to get things done. You get up early, and just don't go out when it is 113 degrees. We await the monsoon season, and finally the nine months of wonderful weather that Arizona promises.
So what did we learn from it all. Most importantly dream big. Why not? If all is but a dream, why not. As I have been told: "Life is a story. If you don't like the story (though we did) change it."