The first time we escaped to Arizona together was on our honeymoon in December of 1992. It was the first trip we’d taken anywhere together, just the two of us, and it all felt forbidden, new, and strangely exciting. I remember our giddiness as we, far more often than was necessary, would announce “this is my husband” or “have you met my wife?” Would people even believe us, we wondered? Sedona — all of Arizona, really — seemed magical. It is a magical place, no question, but part of the magic was knowing that we were about to embark on this great journey together, not just to the hallowed Chapel Of The Holy Cross or the fog-filled Grand Canyon, but on a journey into an unknown lifetime together. We were full of the sort of cheerfully uniformed optimism that can only be found in one’s early twenties, before life begins to teach the hard lessons of adulthood.
It would be years before we would return to Arizona again. Over a decade into our marriage, we made our second trip. My wife’s addiction and our life together had started to quietly unravel, although I’m not sure either one of us were yet cognizant of that fact. Unraveling, after all, tends to start long before we notice the frayed edges.
Now, and for the last handful of years or more, we’ve been making the nearly annual trek to the Valley of the Sun. We’ve been fortunate enough to vacation in a lot of wonderful places in our married life — Big Sur, Munich, Maui, Florida’s Gulf Coast, the north shore of Kauai — but Arizona, specifically our little hidden-away haunt in the foothills of north Scottsdale, remains the one place where we, almost instantly, relax. It’s invariably a time of respite, a quiet moment to refocus and breathe. It’s a place where the stress of day-to-day life gives way to gratitude, a reminder that we have come so far. Together.
Our escapes to high in the Sonoran Desert have become somewhat of a strange constant in our lives, marking the beginning of our love, periods of drifting and deterioration, and now, a well-earned celebration of new beginnings and renewal. And in that way, yet again, just like on our very first honeymoon visit, there’s something about the Arizona sun that’s truly magical.