It was pouring as I drove my tin-can rental car up the hill outside Tucson. This is crazy, I thought. Crazy that it’s raining in the desert, and crazy that I haven’t turned back yet. I listened to the news as I splashed along. An 85-year-old man, known to have dementia, was missing: went to the supermarket, never returned home. I pulled into the Tucson Mountain lot. The rain suddenly stopped. So I grabbed my knapsack and began to follow the first trail I saw. A hundred yards from the car, I hesitated, confused. The trail had disappeared. Or rather, there were suddenly half a dozen trails: all formed in the past hour, by rivulets of rain. Whatever footprints might have once marked the real trail had been washed away. There was no one else around. This must be what dementia feels like, I thought. I turned around and spotted a stone shelter just above the parking lot. My beacon: When I turned around, I would head straight for it. I knew I was in no danger, not really, yet I felt queasy: do scorpions come out after a rain in the desert? Rattlesnakes? I had no idea. Could the clouds gather again so quickly and rain hard enough to cause a flash flood? Probably. I felt small and humble and not very smart. But I pressed on, thirsty for a little fresh air and exercise. Twenty minutes, then I’d turn around. 40 minutes later, I made it back to where I started, dry and unbitten [...]
I had a window seat, so I took in the view as we flew north from Phoenix. Suddenly the all-beige, all-the-time Arizona landscape began ripping itself into accordion pleats: red, gold, ivory, green, with a sugar dusting of snow. I didn’t know what it was. Then I did: the Grand Canyon, right there below my wingside window, sashaying across the desert like a Flamenco dancer.I’ve only visited once. We were on a summer road trip with our kids, seven and ten at the time, which put us smack in the middle of those years when, as a parent, you feel the same sort of immortality young people feel about life in general: This will never end. Being parents like this, with our children always with us, in the car, in the tent, on the Bright Angel trail? This is our life. Forever. On this flight, on my way home from visiting my dad and stepmom in Phoenix, I am realizing that they in their seventies and we in our fifties now have a huge life experience in common: the empty nest.You know I try hard not to use the words “empty” and “nest” together too often—but sometimes it can’t be helped. Empty. Nest.My dad and stepmom love their desert life, their tennis, golf, bridge, friends. They’ve never felt the need to over-meddle in our lives or in the lives of their grandchildren. But that visceral charge you get from being physically near your own offspring? That doesn’t go away. It’s still there at 54 and [...]
It's time for the Restless Nest to move into a real blog site. Thank you, iWeb, for getting me started! annhedreen.com will still be my home base. But moving the Restless Nest to Wordpress will make it easier for you to comment and for us to have a real conversation. Which is what a blog should be, right? Not just me, me, me talking to me but me talking to you and you talking back.