Most of the plans I’ve made since being in Phoenix have been with retired ladies, which I guess makes sense since Arizona is where people go to retire and I’m on a temporary early retirement. I’ve noticed that my new retired friends seem to be the most enthusiastic supporters of what I’m doing, almost always affirming, ‘Yes! Do it now! Before kids, or a husband, or you’re too old to do it!’
The first day I was here, my godmother invited me to her ladies’ luncheon at the Desert Botanical Garden with 5 of her girlfriends. They all started talking as soon as we sat down, which actually reminded me a lot of my book club back in Portland, and they quickly caught up on life by passing around photos of their great-grandchildren on their iPhones. My godmother, Joan, explained that I’m taking a year off work to travel around the U.S., and they started hammering me with questions like ‘Where do you sleep? How old are you? Do you have a boyfriend? Is it safe? What’s your route? What’s a blog?’ Joan leaned over before we ate to say that there was a lot of wisdom at the table, which she was right about, and I loved listening to the ladies tell stories about their lives.
Later that night, the parents of one of my closest college friends, Madison, invited me over for dinner. Larry and Kellie still live in the big house Madison and her four siblings grew up in, and a few years ago, they converted the lower level to an assisted living home. They currently have three women and their caretaker living with them, who they refer to as Sweetie, Honey, and Coco, and every night they eat the dinner Larry cooks around the kitchen table, family-style. Seems like a pretty sweet setup, and I asked one of the ladies if she feels like she’s in college again.
I’ve been a big fan of Kellie’s ever since I met her, because she’s got a big personality just like Madison and she’s full of Kellie-isms that are equal parts hilarious and insightful. We were watching one of my all-time favorite rom-coms a few years back, Only You, when Kellie told us, ‘Girls, don’t every settle for less than the hot jazzies.’ The concept seems obvious now, but at the time I felt like I’d discovered something revolutionary, and when I moved back to Portland, I shared it with my friends like I was sharing the gospel of Kellie. My book club especially resonated with the idea, and we’d use it as a litmus test whenever one of us was dating someone new, as in ‘Yeah, but does he give you the hot jazzies?’
It was hard to talk myself into leaving California for Arizona, since Arizona holds a lot of hard memories and California has so many happy ones, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with Joan now that I’m here so I’ve decided to stay a little longer. My original plan was to leave on Tuesday for New Mexico and then Texas, then fly back to Vegas for a bachelorette party, but instead I’ll just drive to Vegas from Phoenix and then continue to New Mexico and Texas after the trip. The beauty in this road trip is plans are subject to change, and it feels good to be able to basically do whatever I want.