There, at the Firehouse Subs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we unwrapped subs and blasted the FJ’s AC. The phone rang through the speakers and I stopped eating. It was the Air Force. The man on the other end of the line knew our fate.
I held my breath and thought of all my dream places: Great Falls, Montana; Spokane, Washington; Mountain Home, Idaho; Phoenix, Arizona; California; South Carolina; Germany; England.
I’d even take Minot, but I have my dream places, too.
When the man on the other end of the line said, “Davis-Motham,” Zach and I both asked, “where is that?”
The man didn’t know. He checked and said, “Tucson. Looks like the Air Force needs you in Tucson.”
Zach wasn’t so sure about Tucson, but I swiftly pointed out all the great things about Tucson – a place I’ve never visited. I explained how the mountains rise sharply out of the valley and how the saguaro and ocotillo color the desert. We looked up the Davis-Motham base website. Zach knew a few guys on staff at the Chapel. We were intrigued by the plane graveyard and the way the heat quivered on the horizon, even in photos.
“It’ll be oven-hot,” some people said. My parents worried about border drama. I welcomed the promise of dry heat and calculated the distance between Tucson and home. For every negative factoid thrown my way, I tossed back positivity. Zach began to like the idea of Tucson.
It wasn’t Phoenix, but it was close enough.
I made a Pinterest board called “Tucson” and delighted myself in my imaginary new home. I began to change my style to suit the desert. I looked up restaurants and must-see attractions. I even bought a new journal covered in cacti art.
Now, every time I open that journal, I recall the dream that slipped away like desert sand.
You see, the man on the other end of the line took a long time in calling back. The wait made me anxious. With white knuckles, I gripped my Tucson dream. When the man finally called again, the assignment had changed.
And, to be honest, expected.
Still, I mourned Tucson. (Sometimes I still do.)
I made a Pinterest board called “Montgomery.” I relocated my imaginary new home to Montgomery, redesigned the exterior, and traded cacti for magnolias. I learned to love the idea of returning to the South.
With open hands, I accepted the a dream. The relaxed posture felt familiar.
To Be Continued…