It’s still dark, still practically night, at 4:50 when I leave my house to go walking. “She must be out of her mind,” you’re thinking. Don’t lie. I can hear you. “Who wakes up that early to go walking?” that’s what you’re thinking. “Crazy people, that’s who.”
“People from Central Arizona,” would be my reply. Yes, I am a bit crazy, that’s completely true. But, more important in this conversation is that I live in the greater Phoenix area. The DESERT. That is why I’m awake so ridiculously early and why I am walking in the dark. No offense to my fellow desert rats, I mean Valley of the Sun dwellers, but we all must be crazy to live here.
If you’d ever lived here, or do live here, an explanation for nearly night/early morning walks would not be necessary. But then most people are fortunate not to live in the desert so let me be more concise.
It’s flipping hot here in the desert, even at night, especially during our eternal summer. It cools down about 15 degrees at night if we’re lucky. So it’s 85 or 90 degrees when I leave in the dark to walk. Imagine what happens when that rolling ball of hydrogen surges over the protective horizon and starts blasting down laser rays of heat across the already baked, seared, sandblasted landscape of the desert floor.
We celebrate sunsets here in Arizona. Look at our flag, for crying out loud, it’s a sunset. We cheer when the sun goes away for the day. It’s a sign that we survived another blast furnace day.
Sunrises are nice during our six months of (cough) winter. But that’s another story. I digress.
I’m walking. Meeting my walking partner. Had I mentioned that? There’s an important detail. I don’t walk alone in the dark. No way.
I meet my walking partner where our two neighborhoods intersect.
The plants hover overhead. It’s so dark it could be midnight.
So we walk. We get sweaty even in the dark.
We make sense of our lives, at least temporarily, as our feet move. Once we get home, reality sets in, but that, too, is another story.
We weave this beautiful, sad, heart wrenching tapestry in the air above us. I can almost see our words above us, intertwining, circling. Our conversation is an amazing work of art and heart. There are shades of blue mostly. That’s to be expected. But there are some brilliant greens looping through, like little vines. And some yellows burst in the air above that, like little fireworks. For some reason there hasn’t been much red. Lavender blossoms emerge in the conversational picture above us, their fragrance almost discernible.
It’s a priceless work of art we weave with our talk as we move along the path.
Reluctantly ending our walk, more reluctantly ending our conversation, we air hug. We’re both too sweaty for a real one.
The talking tapestry we created does this swirling dance, divides into two parts. One half follows her and the other half chases after me.
By then the sun is undeniably up for the day. A combination of heat, sore muscles and the solitude conspires to turn the dancing conversational colors in the air to a dust that settles in my hair and on my shoulders. The walk has worked its magic. I feel a bit more whole, a little bit more able to cope with reality. I am a little more what I need to be for the day ahead.
It’s worth the loss of sleep.