Face-to-Face, At Long Last

Lots of catching up to do. It seemed like yesterday – it seemed like a century ago – that I was in Apache Junction, hiking in the Superstitions and hanging out with my now dear friend, Leanna. All too soon, it was time to make tracks. First stop, Tucson …

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Here I am with Joanne. Actually, we’re some three hours outside of Tucson in this photo. Never mind …

I’ve known Joanne online for at least four years. I’m not sure she knows what to do with me. You see, she gives me advice, and I actually follow it. She’s the one who came up with the title to my book series, “The Bipolar Expert Series.” She had a look at the draft to my first book and told me I was losing her with my ancient Greek esoterica. I couldn’t help it – I had all this cool stuff about Socrates and “knowing thyself” and Galen the Physician with the four temperaments. Just to make things even cooler, I threw in Shakespeare. Really, how could I possibly go wrong?

The problem, she explained, was I was basically front-loading my book with nerd-geek stuff. That could come later, she said. First, I had to explain myself and what my book was all about. Reveal a bit of myself. Get readers engaged. Then go ancient Greek. Well, okay. Edit, edit edit – the difference was night and day.

She made a similar critique of the first draft of my second book. This time it had to do with ancient Sumerians. We nerds simply can’t help ourselves.

Anyway, years ago, a personal crisis resulted in Joanne being unable to return to her well-paying position as an IT specialist on Wall Street. She downsized and hit the road with her service dog, traveling cross-country between one family in Connecticut and another in Arizona, learning as she went along. It quickly turned into a way of life.

Recently, with a friend, she went on a once-in-a-lifetime Havasu Falls hike in the Grand Canyon.

We had been aiming to meet up for the longest time, but it never happened. It looked like we would miss each other again, but then I got a text message from her saying she was in a hotel near the Tucson airport. She had just driven a friend there to attend to a family emergency. I responded that I was also in a hotel near the Tucson airport. Someone had put me up for the night there, which is a whole other story.

So here we were, coming to the sudden realization that we were both within walking distance of each other. Next thing, we’re helping ourselves to the breakfast buffet together.

A couple of years ago, anticipating my current financial crisis, Joanne suggested to me downsizing and hitting the road. At the time, this was way beyond the realm of my comprehension. Now, here I am, already looking forward to at least another year of being free-range. Life is funny that way.

We spent the day driving around, first up Mt Lemmon, 9,000 and-a-bit feet …

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Then through Saguaro National Park …

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A few days later, we met again, this time way off the beaten track three hours southeast of Tucson. Driving in on a washboard road, the underside of my car came down on a rock. I experienced the sickening bang! of catastrophe followed immediately by my car sounding like a motorboat. I managed to get it to my campsite, then, a few days later, 40 miles up the road to the nearest town, Safford. The exhaust had severed from the engine. Three places refused to touch it. Basically, the job would involve removing the engine from the car. It looked like my road trip was about to end.

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Then Rusty, here, had a look, and performed a spot weld for no charge. Turned on the ignition. It purred. God and I have a lot of issues. But sending Rusty my way was a blessing.

Anyway, here’s my campsite, out in the middle of nowhere …

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And here’s the view …

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Wish I could get a pic of the night sky over the Arizona Desert. Joanne and I and a friend of hers enjoyed two nights sitting out under nature’s splendid canopy, mere specks amongst the specks. Then one of the specks broke loose and bolted. It shone brilliantly for all of a second, only to extinguish into nothing. Such is our fate. No matter what, we will all return to the nothing from which we came. Our only crime is to never take up the challenge of breaking loose and and daring to shine when presented with that rare opportunity we call life.

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