I drove up Skyline Drive each morning, straight into the mouth of the foothills. The sky was washed purple-pink, like bold swipes of watercolor. These mountains listened to me.
September 11, 2001. On the East Coast, children were already in school---teachers willed back tears and churning panic, as parents raced home to their children. But in Tucson, we woke up to the aftermath---there was nothing to do but drive to work.
The mountains heard me cry softly, as I shifted gears and stopped at lights. The sky was obscenely blue, inappropriate, like a peacock at a funeral. The cacti forest, each saguaro in a perpetual sun salutation, witnessed our coming and going with ancient wisdom.
As I watched the sun tip out behind the mountains, flooding the valley with light, I said to myself, "We are so safe here."
A girl was born that beautiful Tucson morning. Lots of new lives were born under that desert sun, in a valley which smells of creosote and fresh starts.
I lived there, in a flat-roofed bungalow with wood paneling and a swamp cooler. I rode my bike to the University, where I learned that I could write. I became a runner in that valley, pounding out miles along the empty banks of the Rillito.
I married my love there, and danced with him under twinkly lights and a scarlet explosion of bougainvillea.
And through it all, the mountains bore witness. As they will, long after the camera crews pack up, and those dear families attempt to pick up the pieces.
Bear down, Arizona. Those mountains, and the world, hold you in their arms.