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It’s an unusually hot October afternoon when I join Corinne for a few days in Arizona to develop new work for Slow Burn’s upcoming release. We’ve borrowed a darling camper from her cool friend Natasha, who waves us off her driveway with fist-pumps as we head for the desert and later joins us along with Allison, because bonfires call for gathering the sisterhood.
Once we find our spot and expertly back the trailer in (because we are our father’s daughters and know how to maneuver horse trailers and boat trailers like pros), we set out camp chairs and cover them with patterned blankets from Mexico and hang solar twinkle lights from the retro silver awning. Corinne calls this “pretty camp” and we cannot stop giggling.
At dusk, we blast Taylor Swift on one of our phones as we cut thick slices of French bread and drizzle olive oil over chopped basil and fresh tomatoes, laughing as we eat from paper bowls with our hands because we forgot to pack forks.
Later as the sun casts her golden-hour glow over every inch of Usury Park, we light small glass votives and sit under the shimmer of a billion galaxies, toasting with jam jars full of champagne and gasping with cheer over every coyote howl.
In the morning, I wake with the sun as she rises bright over Superstition Mountains and dozens of quail call over and over, finding their way back to each other. A small gray rabbit darts across brittle-bush tufts, her long ears flicking with the cadence of my breath as a cactus wren flits along a three-armed saguaro queen.
Corinne makes us fresh pour-over coffee as I wrap a woven blanket closer against the chilly desert morning air. I sigh and admit it — I miss the desert. And then I cry. A soft breeze whips my hair across my cheek, causing small flecks of desert dirt to stick to the trail of tears steaming down my face.
I spent my teen years longing for something — anything — different. And now, these ocotillo-laden hills are the very place of my healing. She is the map that brings me home to myself, again and again.
‘Home’ shifts in Midlife. My children’s happiness is my home. That old cabin in the North Mountains is my home. There‘s a small place where the boulder is formed just right for sitting, high on a mountain, and that is my home. There’s a table beside a canyon in Sedona that is my home. There’s a patio w string lights and a fire outside Chicago that is my home. There‘s a poem with perfectly fitting words that is my home. There‘a a howl of ancient sisterhood on a stormy night that is my home.
Midlife is showing me again and again that home is the belonging I find within myself. Home resides in each place I’ve lived, each memory I’ve cherished, each person I’ve embraced and been embraced by. Belonging is ours to hold, always, and in all ways. Longing for home is as true a human story as any there ever was.
Midlife is a fault line.
Tectonic plates shifting along continental soil, along the curve of our backs. Golden canyon walls rumble as salt water brines our skin with sweat, shards of fossilized memory slice into earth’s bone and cartilage as we emerge and take up our space.
We remember who we are, we carry belonging within the sinew of our memory wherever we go.
Midlife is an out-held hand.
Crepe paper skin curling over itself, arms once chiseled bow soft and round, stomach full and showing.
We are well-fed here, we do not pretend we aren’t hungry.
Midlife is a siren song.
‘Speak,’ she coos, and we open our mouths, setting a million tiny moths of silence free. Our lungs bitten through, years of unspoken truth poked between pink muscle like bleached cotton sheets hung on a line to dry.
Our vocal cords are warming. We refuse to stay silent.
Midlife is us
Midlife lays to rest what is no longer and revives what was always meant to be.
Slow Burn is coming. We are ready!