Well…this is my last dispatch from Tucson. We hit the road on Sunday and begin making our way to northern California.
I’ve said it before, but this is always a bittersweet time for me. When we land in a new place, it always seems like three months is this enormous wealth of time and that we will be able to explore every nook and cranny. We start out gangbusters and each day feels like an adventure as we discover new things daily- a grocery store, a trail to run, a cute pizza place around the corner. As we begin to settle on some favorites, that process of discovery begins to slow. We figure out which grocery store has the best produce and the coconut milk we like, which laundromat has fast wi-fi and the dryers that won’t burn our clothes, which park has trails that fit into both of our training lengths.
We are pretty diligent, working to get out to try new breweries or restaurants or trails or museums, but it’s not enough. We never see it all. The reality is, even if we had unlimited funds and didn’t have to work, we’d be hard pressed to feel like we “knew” a place inside and out in three months. I’m not sure it’s possible in three years, maybe not even three decades.
And trying a bunch of new places once isn’t the same as getting to know them, is it?
To get to know a place, it requires more, an investment of time and inquiry. It requires coming back.
We were driving down Mount Lemmon yesterday after one last overnight campout in the pine forest above the desert, and Justin wondered aloud if this would be our last time ever on the mountain, if we would ever return to this place. I feel sure we will.
If there is one thing I’ve grown increasingly convinced of over the years, and especially since we began living on the road in this way, it’s that true goodbyes are far rarer than we think. People and places and ideas…they seem to circle back, to pop back up when least expected.
One of the best pieces of travel advice I ever received was to travel with the assumption that I would be back, that I didn’t have to “see it all” in one trip. It lightens the pressure and allows us to linger in cafes over coffee and books, to change our plans at the advice of a stranger, to return to a restaurant a second time and enjoy the food again without guilt that we should be only experiencing the new. We don’t have to worry about missing out because we can assume that we’ll catch what we missed next time, and it frees us to just be present with what we are doing now.
So while we make a list of the city’s breweries and try to hit as many as we can, we also stop back by to chat with Aaron over a Serrano Seduction at Dillinger Brewing for the second or third or fourth time regardless of what’s left on our list. While we make an effort to hit as many trails as we can in the surrounding mountains, we also repeat some favorites so often that we begin to know the best times to run there if we want to catch alpenglow on saguaros or which curves are most likely to hide a sunbathing snake or a camouflaged group of mule deer. To greet Armando behind the bar and the other regulars watching soccer at The Playground on Sunday mornings with warm hellos and inquiries about their families, to feel a small part of the community.
No…three months isn’t even close to enough time to know a place. But it’s long enough for me to to have found ways to begin digging in, to grow attached to certain places or people, and as we prepare to depart, there is always a pull of resistance, always a part of me that isn’t ready to let go, that wants to stay and dig in deeper. That part of me wars with the other part, the part that is looking at the sun as it sets over the highway and wants to jump on, craves the wonder of our next new place, the next series of discoveries to feed our curiosity.
So I no longer say goodbye to a place we’ve called home, no matter how temporary. No more goodbyes to friends we make along the way. I will say so long for now, I will say thank you for the beauty you’ve shared, but I will not say goodbye. Because I’m nearly certain that we’ll meet again, one way or another.
So…so long, Tucson, you’ve been good to us and we will look forward to seeing you again soon.
(But maybe not too soon…it’s quickly turning into the surface of the sun around here…so we’re going to go find some trees and coastal fog and cold Pacific waves for a bit...)
Two quick reminders...
(1) The print shop changes today (yes, I'm a day late, but use it to your advantage and snag yourself a last minute print!)...come on over and support The Wilderness Society with your purchase!
(2) As might be obvious from this post, I will be on the road for the next couple of weeks as we transition to California and my access to internet and cell signal will be blessedly limited, so please be patient and I will get back to you as soon as I get back to civilization and hunt down fast wifi!