Thursday, August 29, 2013

Arizona Nostalgia

Stories From The Road
July 9, 2013

I came to Arizona in the mid-90's while attending undergrad at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

First, let's talk obligatory exposition.

I managed to bomb out of a number of other colleges (we'll discuss that in another post), and I finally found a mentor, J. Don Luna, and a calling at A&M-CC. My calling was performance and writing. Don made me into an actress who reacted as opposed to acted. He taught me to be real on stage and in many ways life.  Because of Don and the amaze-tastic Professor Louis Katz, I landed a role in a performance art piece titled 50 Foot Alice In Wonderland that went live in Las Vegas, NV.

Yes, here's where the story wraps around. After the performance in Vegas, I got to hop a bus to Arizona for the day. And once there, something inside shifted.

I. Fell. Head and heels for the terrain. And the food, the smells and all things around that allowed me to dine in delight inside my little big self. In the years that have since passed, I've written stories, screenplays and had more than one post card from the state on my Wall of Thought (picture to come when I find one). It was a state that I grew to love and considered living in someday.

You can imagine my immense disappointment when Tuscon Unified District in Arizona began banning books featuring Mexican Americans as prominent characters. An argument that literature featuring minority exploration was oppressing Caucasian readers.

Here was my reaction at the time.

Driving through Arizona in the here and now, I was reminded of my time working with J. Don Luna and the banning of books that included one of my contemporaries Matt De La Pena. But I let myself drift along the stretches of asphalt highway and blazing waves of heat. I let myself swim in the beauty of saguaro and the mountain landscape -- the blue skies battling against swells of storms that stayed mostly to the side of us. 

A few hundred miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, we had already run through the CD's we bought in Louisiana for the sixth time. I love Bob Seger and Jay-Z but we had been driving. A lot. And radio was a mix of Pop Favorites between drowning out into static and faint tent revival-like preaching. There were stops for gas and gum and occasionally the rest room toilets had been flushed. For whatever reason, the ride from Roswell, NM to Flagstaff, AZ felt a long and hard one.

When we pulled into Flagstaff after 8 + hours, we tried to check-in to the Econo Lodge, but apparently there is more than one within a three mile radius. So ... we piled back into the car and through a series of wrong turns arrived at the right hotel.

I threw a bunch of the gear and clothes and our magic twenty-two can cooler in the room and jetted for a dinner I was more than late-late for. I poured into the booth of a Tex-Mex restaurant. While I was finally sitting still, I felt myself still in motion, so there I went talking with next to zero pause.  Ten minutes or so, I realized I hadn't stopped talking. Consequently, I just had to stop. Breathe. Stop.

Between tortilla chips and excessively spicy salsa (acid reflux hates the spice), I got more centered and could be present in the conversation as opposed to the light speed rate we had been going all day. And I haven't decided yet as I type this from the confines of squeaky bed at the Econo Lodge, but maybe something really great will come of that dinner.

I gotta get some sleep.

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