Sunday, February 7, 2010

Memories of the Southwest

I remember the summer I lived with my cousins in Phoenix as one of the most life-affirming summers of my life. My cousins were physicians in a hospital-affiliated out-patient clinic, and Tiffany and I spent the most sweltering months of 2006 shadowing them and their colleagues in the range of specialties and services offered... and also playing with our seriously cuter-than-life baby nieces XinXin, AnAn, and Jingjing.

My cousin was pregnant at the time and I inherited the daily driving responsibilities to and from work. The surroundings were totally different than the developed suburbs I was used to and I remember being struck by the dry and cracked red clay that made up some of the roads, the fighter jets that seemed to race with me as they would glide through vibrant blue hundreds of feet above, and the piercing sun that would already be high in the cloudless sky during our 7:15am commute. But it was one of the rare mornings I didn't drive that I first noticed the dusty local roads we used actually bisected seemingly endless fields of corn plowed by farmers and their donkeys. I loved fixing my eyes and letting our speeding car turn the crop into a sunbathed golden-green blur.

However, as the summer progressed, I slowly lost pleasure in that cloud of color. Maybe it was because at the clinic, I was no longer blindly following along. Without realizing it, I had gained insight into the world of patient care and I could understand some of the common diagnoses, numbers, and acronyms thrown about in passing conversations between the staff. Tiffany and I could discuss topics we learned with each other, and then with our cousins over dinner at night. And every time I passed those same fields during our commutes, my eyes would dart quickly from point to point making me slightly carsick with the frequent lateral cycling of my eyes. This made me never desire to skip my driving duties anymore. Anyway, I had seen all the familiar sights and grown used to the familiar roads we used nearly every day. And mostly I had become much more eager to get to the clinic to see the less familiar sights and travel the less familiar "roads" of medicine and healthcare.

But there was one last time that I didn't drive. And that particular morning I really looked at those fields again. Like before, the speed of the car caused the fields to blur, but this time I found that if I happened to fix my eye at just the right point, as we passed it, I could see straight into the horizon through the space in between each straight row of corn. Though we'd quickly drive by and the rows would blur again, for that split-second before, my view was so gloriously clear and my path was so completely straight and unhindered that I felt I was invincible.

(photos from Flickr)


  1. Oh Cynthia, you are always so eloquent and lovely. I keep hearing how pretty Arizona and New Mexico are supposed to be--lets road trip! :D :D

  2. I felt like I was reading a book from start to finish, it hit all the points it was supposed to and had that deep meaningful ending =)

  3. This trip was so dangerous! I'm just learning now that the US SW is full of valley fever (which we already knew), and is endemic for BOTH Hanta virus and the bubonic PLAGUE... as in the BLACK PLAGUE... AS IN BLACK PLAGUE OF DOOOOOM/DEATH.