Life continues to offer me opportunities to push against the uncomfortable and follow the energy that makes me feel alive. And each time I say yes, I find deeper joy, deeper meaning and deeper love. Each time I say yes, I find more of myself.
I met Patty more than 25 years ago when she was a singer/songwriter in Phoenix. We had a few friends in common, but we never dated, though I do remember having a little crush. Then she moved to Texas, got married, had kids and we all lost touch.
Her kids are now in their twenties, she’s no longer married and last year she sold her house and packed up her life in Texas to follow her creativity into the high desert of Arizona.
A few weeks ago when I was in Arizona, she had come down to Phoenix to pick up a friend at the airport and she invited me to dinner so we could talk about our mutual experiences of following our passions. The funny part was, she contacted me because one of our mutual friends had suggested it. She had no memory of us ever meeting before.
But within five minutes we both felt like old friends. The energy was palpable, how we mirrored each other’s language and ideas and focus on living awake and alive and present. It had been so long since I’d felt that kind of magnetic attraction.
We had such a fun time at dinner, laughing, yes-ing each other’s sentences, spilling our dreams onto the table with glorious abandon. She told me that she’s been painting for years – landscapes and portraits and still lifes- but in all of that time raising her family, she hadn’t written songs or played any music.
Then she came to the high desert in Arizona to visit the woman she used to sing and write music with, and they started playing her old songs together. They gave an informal concert and everyone there knew all of the words. She cried. Her heart opened. She said she remembered who she was.
I told her about my own adventures to the coast, how surprised I was to be enjoying the freedom and simpleness of RV living and how new and exciting it is to not know what’s next.
My whole heart was glowing with excitement and energy and possibility. And, more than all that, I realized how much I missed that feeling of connecting with and being met with such an open heart.
It thrilled me and scared me at the same time. What WAS this? What if this was love? What did that mean in terms of my relationship with Marika?
But instead of thinking my way through and getting caught in the stories that were swirling in my head, I focused on the energy. I was giddy. I was excited. I was smiling a lot. Marika even joked that Patty was my new girlfriend.
After a week of emails and phone calls, Patty invited me to come for a visit to her house on the hill on my way back to California.
My knee jerk response was No Way. It’s not on my itinerary. I don’t “like” the desert, I need to get back to the ocean.
But I knew the real reason I was saying No was because I was afraid of what this was and where it might lead.
And then I breathed and reconsidered and realized that I didn’t have to stick to a schedule. I have the freedom to change my plans. And it would be great to spend more time together.
I reminded myself that if I just stayed in the present moment with it all, I could actually allow myself to enjoy it, whatever it was. And so I listened to my new mantra, to follow the energy, and I said Yes.
The drive from Phoenix ambled through unobstructed Sonoran desert. Saguaros and cholla cactus dotted the flat earth, and the sky, wide and blue, stretched ahead of me. I passed through little towns that had a single diner or a convenience store and a small RV park, often marked with a handmade sign welcoming visitors.
Past Wickenburg, the highway wound up the side of a steep mountain and I drove slower than the speed limit, hugging the inside lane lines and avoiding looking out at the view over the edge.
I followed Patty’s directions through the town of Yarnell to the Mountain Aire convenience store in Peeple’s Valley. I turned left and then left again, onto a gated dirt road that dipped and curved and crossed a dry creek bed before ascending to the top of the hill.
When I pulled up to the house, Patty was out on the porch with Zig, her eleven year old black and white rat terrier. She was prepping a canvas with gesso. We hugged like old friends and I marveled at the view.
Patty’s house sits high on a hill above Peeple’s Valley, a community of cattle and artists and retirees. This area between Prescott and Wickenburg is surrounded by mountains, the earth is brown dust dotted with rocks and rounded boulders, low desert brush and a scattering of wintering trees. The nearest neighbors are a mile away and the only sounds are the wind chimes, the constant rushing water in the goldfish pond and your own breathing.
I unpacked my things from the car and Patty made us lunch. She showed me where the javalina come though at dusk and we watched a scrub jay knock birdseed from the feeder onto the ground for the quail to eat.
Laddy and Zig wandered, sniffing, peeing, exploring together, but always with several yards between them.
Patty talked and I talked and we laughed. A lot. She told me about donkeys and how she found this house. She talked about her relationships with her family and played me some of her new music. She remembered the names of people she wants to invite back into the recording studio early next year. She shared that her biggest dream is painting really big paintings that hang and sell in a New York gallery.
She asked me about my own art-making, which I’ve tucked away for so long. I told her about my story boxes and the series of paper shoes and the novel I started writing years ago in Marika’s garage. And then I remembered the first vision I had of the book I’m writing now and suddenly, I knew exactly the direction I wanted to take it.
We drove down the hill with the dogs and hiked around big boulders, exploring an abandoned rock castle that I’d heard about so many years before. In the evening, wrapped in sweaters, we tracked the light spreading over the valley, climbing up the mountains in a parade of color. She traced the curves of the landscape and we watched the almost full moon poke a hole in the sky.
Even with all of the easy hugging and touching, it became clear that this connection is not about a relationship with each other. It is all about our relationships with our own selves and that we are each true and unconditional mirrors for the other to be our biggest and best selves, truly alive, truly awake.
What a gift to have a friend who encourages the endless ways we can keep coming back to yes and ease and effortlessness and this present moment. It was like being on a retreat with a reflection of my best self. The shiny parts glowed and even the dark spots were beautiful in all of that light.
The next morning I sat at the kitchen table eating my breakfast, preparing to leave, but my heart ached from all that had been laid open and bared. I was full of tears, not ready to pack it all up into the back of my car. I wanted more time in this wide open space to really claim what I was remembering about myself. I wanted to let it all seep out and in, flow from me and back to me so that it wouldn’t get lost again.
Sure, I had a hotel reservation and a meeting scheduled, but I knew it would be so easy to change them. And so I asked Patty if I could stay another day and she loved the idea.
I embraced the whole extra day to explore all that was cracked open about my creative self. Patty went off to work and I wrote. I walked the land with Laddy. I took a nap and wrote some more.
That night the moon came up full and fast. It was huge and bright with beautiful rings circling it, almost touching nearby Jupiter. We marveled how the moon has no light of its own, that all of its brightness is reflected from the stars that surround it.
A far off town on the side of the mountain glittered in holiday lights and a chorus of coyotes howled down in the valley. Stars popped in the night sky and Patty named them, drawing the outlines of the constellations with her finger against the sky. I stood behind her, my arms wrapping hers, my heart nestled between her shoulder blades and my hands, tender and still, catching the beat of her heart.
The next morning we drank our coffee on the porch and watched the sunlight slowly rise over the dark mountains in a glare of light and color. We walked around the back to find the moon, still full and bright, hanging high in the western sky, big and ready, calling me home.
How does your full heart feel? Please share by clicking the comments below.
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