Today I drive back to Pasadena, spend four days packing the rest of my stuff, giving stuff away, and preparing to load the truck to move my stuff for the actual move to Tucson.

How did the decision to move even come about? I’m wondering. I’d been pondering the idea for a while but I can’t remember an actual moment.

I do remember this. One day in December, my friends Tom, Michael and Paolo came over and we were sitting in the garden, and we were talking about Tucson and the possibility of my moving there and I said I had kind of decided not to go. I said something like: “I hardly know anyone there and what if something happened to me? ” And Paolo, just very offhandedly, but with intention, replied, “I vote for Tucson” or “I think you should go,” or something like that. And it kind of stayed with me. Partly because Paolo has led an adventurous life of his own, packed with creativity, community, art and love, and I admire him, and his partner Lisa, tremendously.

Also I had seen a vermilion flycatcher on my most recent visit.

I seriously think those two “chance” moments conspired, as much as anything else, to bring me here. 

Crunch time means devoting an inordinate amount of mental space and physical exertion to “stuff” for a while. One function of the Incarnation, I’ve been thinking, is that we are constantly constantly carrying stuff from one place to another. Take a look around next time you’re out. Guys with plastic bags dangling from their handlebars, kids with backpacks, mothers with strollers, pickup trucks laded with rakes, shovels, trash barrels, all of us hauling bags of groceries into the kitchen after a Trader Joe’s run.

Along with the stuff, my mind has turned, perhaps in an effort to stave off anxiety, to what kind of clothing might be suitable for summer in the desert. I have basically worn the same outfit every day for the last ten years, which consists of a pair of jeans of some kind, a tank top and a James Perse shirt that buttons up the front (except I get mine used off ebay for 30 bucks or so). And some kind of wrap tied around my waist and in winter, a scarf and jacket.

But last year the temperature reached 100 degrees or more for over 100 days of the year, or something like that, in Tucson. So gosh, I started wondering recently, what do people wear here in July? Like…skirts? Or even, dresses?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dresses. I like them. I own some. It’s just that when push comes to shove, every single morning of my life I wake up, take a shower, and don clothing that will allow me to clean the house, cook, garden, go to Mass, run errands, and take a walk. Which as I said, are pants of some type, et cetera.

Nonetheless, last week I started googling things like “sundress” and “what do people wear in the desert” and after a while other, increasingly lame phrases like “summery skirts” and “linen harem pants” and “freepeople.”

At some point I thought of the brand Black Crane, which specializes in giant tent-like shapeless women’s garments that cost 3- or 400 bucks a throw.


This, for example, which I found used on ebay for 126.

It looks kind of great on her: on me, the effect would be like a potato sack on a pea. But more to the point, WOULD I be likely to wake up and think, “I’ll be darned, it’s 120 outside, why I think I will don my white shroud and gather brush, hack off dead cactus limbs, sweep the patio, scrub the floor and scour the tub in that”?

Or “My God, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, why not cut a hole in a the middle of a tablecloth, slip it over my head like a poncho, and walk to Mass like that, perhaps evangelizing en route? Lifting one robe-draped arm, pointing skyward, murmuring sagely, ‘By his stripes you were healed’ “…

Also the problem for me with white is that, I am not exaggerating, literally within three minutes I will have spilled coffee on myself, fallen asleep while marking up a book so that the Pilot G2 leaks a coal-black blot over the front of my shirt, brushed up against a coat of fire-engine-red wet paint with my hip, or simply spontaneously have gathered to my person and my garments any number of smudges, smears, blotches and bedaubments.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I am so profoundly grateful, and in such an incoherent state of wonder, that I can barely think straight. Life is life, and the problems, challenges, and suffering will continue.

But this is a huge move for me, on many levels, and I can’t believe the Tucson house into which I’ll be moving, upon which more later.


30 Replies to “CRUNCH TIME”

  1. Heather- I’ll be praying for you in the days to come. I’ve moved cross country many times in almost 60 years and I’ve yet to not have a “carpet hugging moment” where I found myself weeping as I was scrubbing the bathtub one last time before saying goodbye to my old life. The “finishing up” of our physical and spiritual space brings about a grief that can’t be easily articulated, only known. But alas, joy comes in the morning (or whenever you land at your new space). And just breathe…God be with you always! And may the road rise up to meet you and all that jazz. 🙂


    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Laura, thanks so much–yes, I am now down to the last morning in the garden, the last LA Mass while I live in the LA Archdiocese, the last LA sunset…the tears are flowing freely, but they’re tears of sorrow mingled with joy, and incoherent gratitude…this is a process I must go through, and would not want to evade or miss…but yes, it hurts!

  2. I laughed out loud reading this & especially the caption under the dress pic, so funny! Best of luck in Tucson! And I thought Georgia was hot😉

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Julie! My place has central air so I will probably survive…esp with all the clothes shopping tips I’ve received!

  3. Rebecca in NY says: Reply

    This is a priceless and precious dive into your thought processes- laugh out loud funny and so relatable, esp for those of whose cross-to-bear includes great sensitivity to their surroundings. May God bless this move, Heather, and be present to you in every detail!

  4. Heather,
    I have a friend who lives in Tuscon. I suggest shorts, skirts and tank tops- sandals too. Lots of sun block!
    Can’t wait to follow your adventure. May God bless you in your future endeavors!
    xoxoxo Rose

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      My days of shorts and skirts shorter than about five inches above my ankle are long gone, Rose…not to worry, I will make do!

  5. Meg Ginnetti says: Reply

    Thanks ever, Heather, for including us in on your processing.
    “Count it all joy” is what you are sharing with your humor, joie de vivre…
    Love it, thanks

  6. But, why of all places Tucson? Still not clear. Why not, say Eugene, Oregon or Pocatello, Idaho?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Um…because I like it there?

    2. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I have always loved the Sonoran desert…it’s a college town…still a city but much slower and quieter than LA…we shall see! Oregon and Idaho would both be too cold for me…though in Tucson, I’ll be going from the ridiculous to the sublime, clearly…Anyway, Cynthia, thanks for asking!

  7. Hi Heather! I wish you much joy and success in Tucson! If not for my children and grandchildren, I’d be right behind you. I have always loved your writing style and your wit. I do have a question, however. What the heck is “bedaubments”? 🙂 God bless you …. John Vitz

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      ha, bedaubment came up in synonym for stain! we daub paint on a canvas…so a bedaubment…

  8. Heather, it will be a wonderful new chapter in your life and a lots of new experiences! Exciting! You will be missed!

  9. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Thank you all so much for these wonderful insights, questions, responses…it really is crunch time so I am going to start packing up what I thought was the last of my kitchen but I now see…let’s hold one another in prayer! Luminous Mysteries today….

  10. I remember returning to Arizona after having lived back East for over ten years. Somewhere along in Texas I saw a Western Kingbird which I was glad to see again and I noticed how dry and hot it was. It felt like I was coming home again.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I know the heat can be debilitating but I find cold, as in NE winters, paralyzing…so I, too, will take the sun…and the Western kingbirds and all the rest…

  11. Heather:
    This was a *FUN* post! As a longer-than-I-like-to-admit southern Arizona resident, “giant tent-like shapeless women’s garments” sound pretty comfy to me around this time of year. Though I’m not into cross-dressing, I confess, any kind of summer clothing seems a bit suffocating when you live south of the Salt River — the AZ-equivalent of the river Styx. For too many years, my wife and I have entertained annual springtime aspirations to move north; much to her dismay (and my shame), here we are again. Maybe I’ll try the hole in the tablecloth thing.
    Hope you are well and that you get settled into your new digs soon.

    TD 😏✨

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ha, Bill, we will swelter in solidarity with one another! I should be donning my muu-muu mid-May or so…

  12. Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda says: Reply

    Consider me surprised, wow! May this new journey overwhelm you with abundant, surprising Graces, Heather… and hey, you are inching your way closer to Oklahoma! Come by and I’ll take you on a Blessed Stanley Rother pilgrimage ❤️ Buen camino to you my friend!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Maria, oh that would be incredible to visit even one place where Blessed Stanley Rother stood, or knelt, or said Mass…And of course I’d love to see you! Looking forward to this next leg of the pilgrimage–we shall see…

  13. I have been to Tuscon one, mostly outskirts, Sonora
    desert, it was hot but beautiful..God bless you.

  14. Clare Thompson says: Reply

    Congratulations on your move, Heather! It will awaken you in ways you simply can’t imagine. And you will be now a new “Desert Mother!”

  15. Clare Thompson says: Reply
    I just saw this on Facebook… maybe some good deals for desert apparel?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Clare–vintage linen right up my alley!

  16. By chance, I rediscovered you today and have been reading all your 2021 columns, some of which moved me greatly. But of all things, what stirred me to comment was dresses. Look to the traditional clothing of desert people. Nothing binding. Long, loose and airy to capture the smallest of breezes. Pockets, 100% cotton, machine washable, no ironing, effortless. In the summer, I wear the morocco robs and djellabas made by DevebyCammy in Michigan. I love them; they’re inexpensive and last for years.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thanks, Jill, a djellaba sounds just about right–will check these out!

  17. Bedaubments sound so much more dignified than “spots”. You gave me a new word! I am exactly the same way. I use an apron a lot as my grown up bib. Best wishes on your new adventure!

  18. angie nichols says: Reply

    I too was laughing out loud……….I bet you will survive somehow with or without the shroud!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ha, no doubt, Angie! Thanks for the good wishes.

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