We found it by accident, just a spontaneous decision on a day-off drive through Sedona, that summer of 1983. Schnebly Hill Road runs 13 miles, west to east, from Sedona to I-17 south of Flagstaff. It had been the main thoroughfare between those towns until 1914, when the highway was built, leaving it unpaved and rocky.
It’s a miracle we made it with our Chevy Citation and didn’t leave an oil pan or muffler on the mountain. It ascends nearly 2000 feet, and at the summit we stopped, got out, looked back and out over the red rocks of Sedona and decided it would be a good place to get married.
We had a quiet anniversary yesterday; we went out to a movie and then to an early dinner, stuffing ourselves with fish, fresh halibut for her and catfish from the Mississippi for me, and then sort of rolled home to digest, having marked another day.
We left Arizona almost exactly two months after we got married, dragging a U-Haul behind that Chevy up I-5, scared and nearly broke and heading for Seattle because we had to go somewhere, somewhere forward, not back.
We stopped in California to visit relatives on our way, and I remember my aunt, as we hooked the trailer back up and said our goodbyes, smiling and saying, “I remember when we used to do things like this,” meaning moving, heading somewhere new, taking on the future, and now I feel the same way.
My daughter heads for Boston in 10 days or so, house rented, job waiting. I had just one moment of regret, more awareness than anything, realizing that in the back of my mind I’d always assumed she’d come back home from Texas, but then maybe that’s for other people. I’m always amazed, actually, at people who stay in one place, who grow up and older in the same town. For all I know it’s genetics.
She and Cameron were here in May, shoring up some memories for her. They went to the Olympic Peninsula, to the Columbia Gorge, to the beach.
I love this picture, not just because she looks happy but because she looks home.
And the East Coast may be her home, now, and she’ll look back in 24 years and realize she is where she belongs, as I do now, and her children will be natives of that part of the country, and then one day they’ll move and so it goes. Maybe it’s genetics.
I do hope she’ll remember to stop and look back, every once in a while, as her mother and I did yesterday. Julie hemmed my pants the night before, we remembered. My grandmother came out for the wedding. My brother was late. I met my in-laws for the first time. It started to rain, a few minutes after the vows.
We just picked the place on a whim, a Sunday drive and a pretty view, but it was a good fit, I know now. If you just get far enough and high enough, and look around carefully, you can see a lot from up there.