Four years after we moved to Maine, as my wife prepared for her graduation, we looked at the mounting entries on the liabilities side of our Maine balance sheet: The wearying humidity of summer. The bone-gnawing cold of winter. The ticks that appeared in the woods every spring, entering our house aboard our four dogs and the Smartwool of my socks before crawling between our bed sheets, threatening Lyme Disease, and expiring only between the teeth of a pair of pliers or beneath the blow of a hammer. The rare Maine vista beyond its shorelines. The Mother’s Day entrada of the bloodsucking black fly and the Father’s Day entrada of the stabbing mosquito. The snow-laden tree limbs that broke power lines, plunging houses into cold and darkness for days. The marginally-satisfying “Mexican” food at the On the Border restaurant in South Portland. (Beware of a dry enchilada garnished with parsley and a jalapeño slice.) The idiocy and racism of Maine governor Paul LePage.
So we decided to return to the Southwest.
Linda’s desire to further her spiritual education helped in this regard. She was seeking a training program in “clinical pastoral education”―hospital chaplaincy. It so happened that Yuma, Arizona’s regional medical center offered such a program. And one could not get more Southwest than Yuma, Arizona.
Linda applied to the program and was accepted.
We knew we weren’t going to spend the rest of our lives in Arizona. After all, we were well aware that the lower two-thirds of the state, including Yuma, was viciously hot much of the year. We detested the highly-publicized and nasty behavior of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And we had a distaste for the state’s predominantly Republican representation in Washington. But the opportunity in Yuma would give us a foothold once again in our Southwest.
Suddenly we found ourselves thrust into high gear. Our house sold quickly to a couple from New York City. Over the phone, through a management company, we rented a house in Yuma.
During our fifth June in Maine, Linda graduated from Bangor Theological Seminary with a master’s of divinity degree during a ceremony held in Bangor. (And just in time: Shortly thereafter, sadly, the 186-year-old seminary closed.)
Near the end of the month, the movers emptied our house on a gray day with intermittent light rain amid green mansions. We arranged to have our pickup trucked to Yuma. Packed in our Toyota RAV, Linda, I, and three dogs―our Buddy having recently passed into the mystic―then began our journey west. We faced 2,800 miles, but, as long as I could keep the sun on my back every morning and in my eyes every afternoon, I knew I would be happy.