“It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage, to pay the price…One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to count doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.”
–Morris L. West, “The Shoes of the Fisherman”
My exploration of my new home continues. Tucson is no Portland or Asheville or even Boise.
A Chinese restaurant named Peking House with a 70s sign out front.
An indie cinema screening two films total, both of which I watched virtually through Laemmle months ago.
So far I see one uber-cool, ridiculously overpriced clothing and housewares store (I like to have a few of these around, just to browse).
One great market for groceries and takeout. (Well, one and a half, the other being Flora’s Market Run in my own ‘hood). 5 Points I guess is good, too, but has been closed except for takeout due to COVID.
Yesterday I made a field trip to the CVS, a good-sized branch at the intersection of two major thoroughfars. I needed a bunch of stuff including TP. So I walked in, glanced around, and the cashier asked, “Can I help you find something?” (That a clerk at CVS would even have the time, much less the desire, to help a customer find something was alone something of a revelation).
“Yeah, thanks, I’m just looking for the carts. Or do you have a basket?”
“No,” she replied kindly.
“We don’t have baskets. We have one cart but someone’s using it. If you have more than you can hold, you can put your stuff on the counter.”
Is it me, or is that totally weird? A CVS! No carts, no baskets. I mean, what, do people just come in for a single bottle of Robo?
I tripped on the whole phenomenon as I meandered through the aisles, looking for shampoo, hydrogen peroxide, face cream. The more I thought about it, the more I kind of liked it. To have a store filled with smallish items of which most people I’d assume buy a few struck me as almost comically hostile. “Go to hell,” I imaged the owner of the franchise or however CVS works, thinking: “Hold the stuff, or put it on the counter, or make a few trips back and forth to your car: I don’t care. “
In short, really what skin is it off my back? Plus there’s almost a David Lynch-Twin Peaks aspect to the place I can totally groove to. They do bill themselves as the country’s biggest small town and in many ways, it is a small town.
Here’s the important thing though: the public library is pretty damn good. There’s a bunch of stuff I could probably or possibly get back home, but they also have a ton of books I would never have expected them to: Eat the Buddha, by Barbara Demick, The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen. Moreover, the Himmel Branch is a mere few blocks away, which means I can reserve my books and walk there to pick them up.
Most to the point, my house is so insanely incredibly beautiful, comfortable, conducive to work, prayer, reading, bird-watching, movie-viewing, napping, thinking, cooking, eating, talking on phone, and WRITING that I could give two hoots about what lies beyond my door.
And what does lie beyond my door is equally fall-to-your-knees splendid. In every direction, there are blocks and blocks and blocks of fantastic residential streets to walk in more or less silence and solitude.
The air is seriously, forgive the cliche, like a caress.
Barrio Bread: huge thumbs up.
The Lost Barrio for folk art and furniture: ditto.
And I know a hundred other discoveries, treasures, nooks, shops, cultural events that I haven’t begun to plumb await.
But even if not, here’s the thing: I don’t really care. I think what I’m seeing is that I’m undergoing a kind of death to part of my identity: as a person who lives, or has to live, in a “happening” urban environment. If COVID showed me anything, it was how very very satisfied I am with a world with about a mile radius, i.e. one I can comfortably walk.
My front yard alone would keep a naturalist busy 24/7.
The Newman Center at the U of A, a 20-minute walk, is about to segue back into daily Mass, and by fall they hope, to again open their doors to the public for Morning and Evening Prayer.
This morning I went to the MVD and applied for my new license and car registration.
Later, on my walk, I will watch the early evening sun illuminate the bougainvillea.
And all is well.
16 Replies to “EVERY CONSEQUENCE OF LIVING AND DYING”
Sounds idyllic other than no basket at CVS. Enjoy!
Ha, right, and if that’s my biggest worry, I’m in pretty good shape! Thanks, Jean.
Dear Miss Heather,
I enjoyed your video of your pilgrimage to NH and mom; your daily Mass love (mine, too); the description of your house and neighborhood in Tucson, but I’m here mostly to thank you for your articles on saintly people that I read in the Magnificat. You bring to light for me amazing people previously unknown. Thank you for sharing your writing talent and your intense life experiences.
Peace to you, Ginger
Bless you and thank you, Ginger! Yes, the Magnificat pieces are an honor and a joy to write–if I have time, I want to post today about a “Credible Witness” for Corpus Christi–peace of Christ–
In the fellowship they talk about a “geographical cure” and though you may not have done so to avoid drinking, in your case, it truly seems to be one that has worked many miracles already. It is so rich to read all your many new adventures.
Yes, Angela, I def considered whether my move stemmed from a genuine desire to stretch and grow or from the doomed idea that things would be “different” somewhere else…in fact, I feel a bit like St Therese of Lisieux did when she entered the convent. It is pretty much exactly as I expected. People keep asking me to explain why I moved and why I moved to Tucson as in a “better standard of living”, worldly sense. Of course I took that into consideration but my main goal was simply to have the raw material to grow. I could have moved any number of places I guess but my sense was that I would find that here. In one way, maybe every way, it doesn’t really matter where we live…
Sounds positively blissful!
In its way, yes…Thanks, Ann–
Thanks hermana for that. Great to read that, and the quote by West is powerful.
De nada, hermano. You I would imagine know quite a bit about leaving all that’s familiar, living on the outskirts, and loneliness…perhaps why we were drawn to each other. Hope you and your beautiful family are safe home and cooking up a storm.
My goodness Heather, what a gripping, head and heart grappling quote to start my morning meditation…but with a proper spot of tea!
Tucson seems positively charming with its 60’s old town feel and laid back vibe…the pace, rime and rhythm just scoot along without a care for the fast lane. Besides, who needs a bloody cart when you can now bring your favourite hipster bag with you…remember the one (or several) you’ve collected and stashed over the years, back in the LA days?
May you continue to discover and delight with joyful abundance and gratitude.
Love your pictures too!
Thank you, Philippe! That’s right, I can bring my own damn bag, and the Lord knows I have several…a whole new rhythm to my day here…I am fascinated by the whole process, and hope to reflect more on it–enjoy that cup of tea!
Hi Ms. Heather!! I am having a hard time donating online. Kindly send me your new address so I can send a check to thank you for your wonderful writings and essays. Love them!! and besides that, I have a few questions for you abt your move to Tucson. ❤😊
Will do, Betty, thank you!!
Noting your final comment…It sounds like you’ve tripped into Julian of Norwich Ville! Welcome home!
Right, Fr. Pat–quite a feat for a born pessimist to believe that All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well! Blessings to you on the Monterey coast–