Desert rain

So refreshing. Sixty-seven degrees last night with the windows wide open! Riding our bikes head on into puddle dips this morning. Wheeee who! I turned around and did it again. Like the 65-year-old kid that I am. “This is why I live in Tucson,” I yelled to Dan.

We’re verging on the glorious fall/winter weather here when through my entire previous life this would be the time of foreboding. September, the most beautiful month on Mt. Desert Island, where I lived year-round for 25 years, the month of Brook’s birth. I drove into Tucson on Sept. 25 at dusk on her 25th birthday, nine years ago.

“I did it,” sighing to myself, staring at the pinkish-purple-salmon sunset. “Don’t know what I’m going to do now but I did it.”  During these nine years I’ve gone from substitute teaching to teaching Kripalu Danskinetics to transcribing a biography of Khrushchev to full-time teaching at wacky school, to freelance writing and editing, which I still do since my once full-time job as assistant editor of the Arizona Jewish Post was cut to four days a week.

For 11 months out of the year I’m busy living in the Sonora Desert and don’t think much about water. But it’s funny, about a month before returning to my home in Southwest Harbor every July, I begin to long for the ocean. The pull is there, always will be.

We’re considering a trip to San Diego at the end of the month to see old friends and to gaze at the Pacific. “Powerful wet stuff” was a favorite line that my kids and I frequently repeated when they were little, which came from “Voyage of the Dawn treader,” the classic Chronicles of Narnia title by C.S. Lewis.

I hear that the Rillito River is flowing after huge thunderstorms last night. Years ago I watched daredevils in rubber boats and canoes rushing down the usual dry river bed. Crazy young people bitten by the water bug. At any time the water could have disappeared, throwing them for a dangerous loop.

Guess they were taking a chance (there’s always the question, how big a chance do you take?). I’m reminded of the NYC boat captain in the short documentary “Boatlift” I posted on Facebook yesterday from the Teaching Tolerance website. He knew he had to take his boat from the safety of New Jersey to Manhattan on 9/11.

He couldn’t let people suffer if there was anything he could do to stop it, he said. His wife called him a “maniac.” But he had no choice. Don’t look back over your life lamenting that “I should have done this,” the captain said.  “That’s what I tell my children. Do it.”

We make choices moment by moment. I could hop in my car and drive to the rushing Rillito or jump in the pool next door. Whatever else I do, I’ll continue to commemorate the innocent 3,000 who perished on 9/11. I’ll read about them in today’s NYT special section. For today, that’s my choice. Yesterday I read the entire Sept. 12 New Yorker, and was especially struck by George Packer’s “Coming Apart.” No surprise about his theory — reality — that “after 9/11 transfixed America, the country’s problems were left to rot.”

George Bush, with his deer-in-the-headlights lack of insight couldn’t see beyond telling the American people to “go out and shop.” Ten years later, we’re in big trouble because choices were avoided.

To maintain our sanity — at least my own — I take breaks from thinking about the rubble we’re left with. I choose the comfort of water, again and again, the ocean, the waterfalls by the names of the 3,000 at the NYC memorial that opened today, the Rillito River and the pool. Lucky me.

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