February 01, 2005

Drive, she said.

So I did. My friend who has relocated to Tucson has had her license for six weeks, total, and her sense of direction is what you would expect from a virginal driver, a transplanted New Yorker in her 50s.

The faith with which she entrusted me to drive also belied a certain lack of experience behind the wheel. No one, apart from my Tucsonian friend, has ever described my driving as "fabulous." It is usually deemed somewhere between "serviceable," and "don't get on the road if I'm driving."

She and I are both of the four-right-turns equals one left school of driving, which worked well in the grid that is Tucson. I drove into the mountains; I drove into the desert; I drove us around town. I didn't get too lost and I didn't hit anyone or anything, so I'd say the rental car venture was a success. I was happy when her husband returned and I could send the car back to Hertz; I've completed my mileage quota for the year, clocking in at 190 miles driven.

Didn't do much sightseeing. We ate mostly in restaurants (she prepares less food than do I), and at friends' houses. Lovely houses, very Southwestern, very full of Indian elements and the gemstones for which the town is known. Great sunsets, a point of civic pride.

At a dinner party I was the youngest guest, with the fewest ailments, though I could certainly keep up my end of the medical maladies conversation. Everyone was very friendly; all the women I met did enough crafts -- from knitting to glass-making, jewelry-making, needlepoint, and more -- to convince me that I was in a summer camp for the middle aged retiree. The men had applied their engineering and chemist skills to learn cooking and master gardening.

We did see an old Spanish mission on an Indian reservation, where all the captions in the attached museum were from the Indian point of view, unlike the mission I saw in California, where there was a distinct we-saved-the-heathens mentality. We also visited the Botanical Gardens, previously the home of the mother and grandmother of one of my oldest college friends.

Very strange, to know my friend and her family history so well, yet see it edited for public consumption -- the fate of the little girls who swam in the water tower, what else remains unexposed, how this particular family drama has played out. I know so many stories from so many lives that I will not reveal, and this is one of those.

I thought of my college friend, and her family, and I wished them well. I also thought how strange it must be, for my friend or her mother to return to Tucson, where what was once the family dining room is now a gift shop.


Blogger no milk said...

every family has secrets and we edit everything we say to preserve the family reputation. i don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. but i guess we don't want to air our dirty laundry, eh?


10:35 PM  

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