Every year, I travel to a new destination for my birthday. Experiences over material gifts is the beat I dance to for special occasions. My last few birthdays were spent in Italy, England, Germany, Denmark and Vermont. Each adventure provided memories I treasure, and made my birthdays feel like the tangible turn of a new page and celebration of discovery. This year, I did something a touch unexpected (even to myself): I chose an old destination.
Arizona hasn’t been home since moving to Europe after college, and celebrating a birthday there? Even longer. Arriving in Phoenix this time felt drastically foreign compared to the other trips, which felt like a homecoming. So much life happened since I boarded that plane to Germany for a new international life six years ago. Paradoxically, it felt like exploring a new destination. It’s different. I’m different. I had the rare opportunity to see my hometown through a new perspective, and found beauty here which perhaps my eyes were immune to during my childhood. Sedona, which is my favorite escape in Arizona, felt like a sensory overload of pure southwestern magic. Were those endless red canyons always so marvelous?
I was meant to fly home last with with Daniel, but I found myself with the option to extend my trip…which I gladly did. It’s only a few more weeks until NYC is our homebase again and while I’m excited to enjoy a few more magical moments in Charleston, there is something poetic about preparing for the wonderful madness of a concrete jungle by hunkering down in a destination which celebrates mountain living, nature and wide open spaces (you know, like the Dixie Chicks song).
I’ve quite effortlessly slipped into an updated version of my old routine: an early morning hike, working from my favorite coffee shop (The Henry by Camelback mountain) and spending the evenings either reading or with friends. The great difference is work is my novel and brand, rather than studying for university exams and spending time in the classroom. I’ve also managed to make most of my dreams come true…and am in the middle stages of my greatest one.
When I get back to the city, I know life will suddenly go from 65MPH to rocket speed. Life will revolve around the book. It’s a dream come true, and I’m going to work endlessly for the goals surrounding it, but admittedly there are nerves. It feels like I’m about to board a long flight in a windowless plane to a destination I can picture, but don’t know the name of. Oh, and I’m the captain. Oh, and I’ll also be selling my child in this destination and hoping everyone loves the child.
Needless to say, I’ll be treasuring these writing days in the desert and not taking a single sunrise, sunset or summit vista for granted. Nor the fact that this place, Arizona, is where a desert girl dreamed of traveling the world and telling stories in the first place.