The sun had caught up with us. We landed at Flagstaff’s Pulliam Airport right after sunrise. My mind was heavy with thought. James and Scott were having a grand time around me, but I took no notice. They had consumed a lot of those tiny airplane bottle of booze. We grabbed a taxi and drove through town. Pine trees passed us by at an increasing rate. I looked out and saw the San Francisco Peaks, coincidentally enough. A calm came over me. It was a beautiful sight.
Those two guys were still cracking jokes and singing into the night, even though it had become morning. Our friendship doesn’t make sense, but it has lasted most of our lives. One shouldn’t question such things. That’s the way it is with most blessings.
The house was beautiful. I don’t know how they found the place or why they were even looking, but it was the coolest house I had ever seen. It was surrounded by a bit of land and looked right up to the San Francisco Peaks. There was a deck on the backside of the place.
Mt. Eldon was much closer and a lot smaller. It was more like a giant hill on the eastern side of Flagstaff. I silently took it all in. Sure, I had been to Yosemite and Redwood, but that has been many years. I had forgotten what God’s natural world looked like. It was amazing in the truest sense.
“So, what do you think?” Scott asked, nudging me.
“Its cool. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I used to come up here when I was a kid. My mom loved coming here. She said it was the only place she could feel free. Whenever I get to return to this place, I always remember her.” The usually quiet James spoke quite emotionally and walked away.
Scott and I looked at each other for a bit, not wanting to be disrespectful to our friend’s feelings. We took some time to settle into the house. It was amazing. There were two stories, with four bedrooms upstairs; each with its own bathroom. It was like a hotel or something. It must have been designed to keep a large family happy and from killing each other. It was just my luck that I was here with two guys. I laughed at myself since I hadn’t had a romantic anything in years.
I told the guys I was heading out to the store. We needed some snacks and supplies for the place. James asked if I needed a car, as he reached into his pocket. I said no, I had noticed a store down the road not far away. It was a beautiful day out and I wanted to walk.
It wasn’t far before I reached the market. The sun was high in the sky, but it was cool out. I would need a sweater. That thought struck me as funny. My view of Arizona was cactus and the face of the sun. I was surrounded by trees and needing to put more clothes on. This was unexpected.
By the time I returned, Scott and James were on the deck having beers with the neighbors. I put the groceries away, grabbed a water and went to be social.
“Q, I’d like you to meet some friends. This is Laura and this Kathy.” I shook their hands and said hello. “I’ve known these two ladies since we were children.” James was back to his charming self.
“I’m terribly sorry.” Scott said with his smart ass smile.
“Oh, James is the best!” Kathy tried to defend my friend, who now wore the cheesiest smile.
“You don’t get out much, do you?” I blurted out before I could stop myself. My eyes were wide and I was embarrassed.
“Wow, you guys are a little sarcastic, aren’t you?” Laura chimed in, not amused.
James, working damaged control, saved the girls before we could really start. “Sorry, ladies, we can get kinda caustic when we get together.”
“Cheers!” We toasted ourselves as James rolled his eyes.
“Please excuse my friends, they find it entertaining to annoy the entire world.” We smirked and shrugged like idiots. We knew our lot in life and were content with it.
The five of us got the conversation rolling after that, before the ladies had to excuse themselves to carry on with their days. We spent the rest of the day out there just talking. It felt good to relax with these guys. I was beginning to feel like my old self.
“How long do you guys have out here?” I said.
“I have a few days to spend.” Scott said in reply.
“What about you, James?”
“I think I can stay through the weekend. What day is today?”
“Yeah, I’ll have to take off Sunday sometime.”
“Q, you have this place for as long as you want. Please make yourself comfortable and move yourself in. The only other person with a key is Sissy, but she won’t come out here. So, the place is yours.”
“Thanks, but I don’t want to take advantage.”
“You’re not. I want you to take care of yourself. It would be cool if you could write something that didn’t make me want to kill myself.”
“Shut up. It’s not that bad.”
“It can be. I’m worried about you and I don’t like that.” I shrugged. I didn’t know what to say.
“Well, I don’t know how long I will stay, but thank you for everything.”
“How long have we known each other? You’re family at this point.”
“You still don’t have to do this.”
“I want to.”
“You sure none of the family will mind?”
“Dude, I’m the only one who’s been here in years. I don’t even know why we keep this place.”
I had nothing better going on in San Francisco. I might as well stay here and try to figure something out. The atmosphere seemed refreshing. Could I find a subject to write about here? I just needed to start writing about my life and see if something comes out of it. The physical act of writing could lead me into something great. I had to have faith in my abilities and hope for the future.
We spent the rest of the week being lazy. We drank out on the deck looking up at the mountains. When you live in the city, you can forget the beauty of the natural world. Cities can be interesting, but they cannot take your breath away. I loved the clean, crisp air of northern Arizona. The views were unbeatable.
Scott and James returned to San Francisco. They kept in contact via text. I tried to keep my head down and write. I settled in after the boys left. I made sure I woke up early to write. I stayed away from alcohol. I did my best to foster a positive environment for myself. I wanted to create a sustainable living situation. If I could find healthy habits here, I could take them back with me to California.