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1999-06-23 - 23:28:17

Arizona: Freedom in the desert

Arizona: Freedom in the desert

I stood in line at Newark to check in for my flight to Phoenix, and I notice a business traveler ahead of me and all the luggage he was struggling with, particularly his folding garment bag. “I’m glad I don’t have all that,” I think to myself, wearing a backpack and camera bag, and holding the handle to my suitcase.

Then my stomach drops. Where’s my suit?!?! My eyes widen like Daffy Duck’s when he spots Elmer Fudd and his shotgun, and I look around, though I know I stepped out of the car at the curb, said goodbye to my father, and walked inside with the suit still hanging behind my dad’s seat.

I duck under the elastic divider, my backpack catching the “rope” and causing the metal stand to wobble and crash over, but I continue to run for the door, pulling my suitcase behind me. It’s been a minute or two, and Dad is long gone from the curb. I stand there a few minutes, hoping he’ll realize it and come back through the airport, but I know he’s already on his way west to go fishing at Lake Estling.

I panic somewhat, wondering how I will get my new suit out to Phoenix in time for the wedding, three days later on a Saturday. Luckily, Bryan and I planned this little vacation before the wedding, giving me some leeway to get the suit sent out.

After leaving a message at home (for whatever good that will do later in the afternoon), try the cell phone in vain, already knowing that Dad wouldn’t have it on, thta he only turns it on to make a call. I leave a message for Mom at work, hoping she wouldn’t have been in class when I called. I then call Pat, a family friend, for the number where my sister Jessica is babysitting, and Pat suggests I just buy a new suit after I tell her what’s happened. “But that’s the thing – I just bought this suit for this wedding,” I say. I do get a hold of my sister, and put everything in her hands, since there’s nothing I can do at this point. I’ve got to check in and get on my plane for Phoenix, suit or no suit.

ARIZONA! It’s amazing out here. I’ve forgotten all about forgetting my suit in Newark. No need to write about that anymore – it’s all behind me now, far down I-17 and a flight across the continent.

Bryan and I got the rental car and crawled out of Phoenix with the top closed and the air conditioning on.

5 p.m. – the roof goes down for the first time when Bryan and I pull off I-17 for water. “Looking at the desert is making me thirsty,” he says, there in the cooler high elevations of the mountains. How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us comes on the tape and we hit the road.

“I’m so happy right now!” Bryan screams as we cruise along 17 at 80 mph, a dark cloud and bolt of lightning off to our left in the desert. This is how it should be – out here, windblown and free under the hot Arizona sun as we climb to 4,000 feet.

“We’re Doug Ross and Mark Greene!” he says. The road stretching out before us, the wind blowing and music blaring, we turn through the northern Arizona hills and we are free, saved by the desert, the pure hot sun bleaching away all that we left behind in the east.

Previous page: The long way home
Next page: Arizona: Grand Canyon loop

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