We've been here in Tucson for a week now. Here's what I've learned so far.
1. I knew this, but will say it anyway. It isn't the warmth I'm after during the winter. It's the sun. A good thing, too, because Tucson is in the grip of a record-breaking cold snap. In our resort, people have put insulated cloths or grocery sacks over the live plants in their tiny yards. It's in the 20s at night and, right now, in mid-afternoon, it's just 41 degrees. I'm fine with this. I look outside and I see bright sunshine, and I can walk outside and be in it if I feel like it.
The local radio and TV stations are telling people, "Be sure to put on coats before you go outside." That's a rare thing here. But yesterday morning, in my water exercise class, we laughed. We're from Washington State and Oregon and North and South Dakota and Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Canada. Weather in the mid-30s and 40s is not cold to us. It's a matter of perspective.
2. My husband Art and I can live contentedly in 650 square feet. The kitchen and bathroom require some getting used to, but we owned a motorhome once and the facilities there were smaller.
3. I can go five days without leaving the resort with no trouble. Art is the grocery shopper, so he goes into town every other day or so, but I haven't seen an out-of-park road since my massage last Monday. I am good with that.
4. I love line dancing! I'd only done it once, at a convention 15 years ago. Here in Tucson I'm in a beginners' class. I can pick up the steps without a problem, and when she turns on the music I am almost transported - even with country music, which I don't listen to much. When I was younger I was a church and community musician for 15 years, but when I became a single mother and moved from a small town in Oregon to Seattle, I didn't have time or energy after my workday to go to rehearsal. I know my voice is gone, but my sense of rhythm and the feel of moving to music is still with me. I have issues with my feet from a back injury, but during the 45 minutes of that class I was so engrossed in the experience I forgot about my feet. How cool is that?
5. I haven't forgotten how to play handbells, either. I was in a handbell choir for two years when I lived in Oregon but haven't played for 25 years. Here at the resort there are two groups plus four "newbies". I spent 20 minutes being a newbie and heard the director say I'd probably be moving into one of the groups in a week or so. I expected that. Handbells are like a bicycle. You remember. You also remember how to read music. Fortunately.
6. People can get really worked up in a discussion group called Current Events/Economics. I'm hoping we can move past the differences. I even suggested that, rather than belittling the Congress for its inability to get anything done, we as a group pretend we're the Congress and see what we can come up with. We're from all over - mostly northern states and Canada - and we represent just about the entire spectrum of opinion. I got the feeling, walking out of the group, that a few participants just wanted to get a rise out of people. I hope not.
7. It's great to be in a group of Mac users, and in a group of iPad/iPhone users. I learned stuff in those two hours yesterday that got me all charged up.
8. I can get out of bed at 7:30 and be at the aquatic exercise class by 8. If I wear a hat to cover up my disheveled curly hair, no one has to see how awful I look before a shower. And, if you exercise in the water for an hour, even if it doesn't seem strenuous, you're still wobbly when you get out of the pool. It's a kind of trick exercise, I think. And if it's 35 degrees between the indoor pool and the dressing room with warm showers, and 70 degrees if you use the restroom by the pool, you can dress in the restroom and shower at home.
9. I can be as busy as I want to be here. For me, the biggest challenge is trying new things. The line dancing was a hard door to walk through, but I wanted to learn. And so did the other 25 people who showed up.
10. Spotty wifi is a time-wasting, aggravating situation. I am profoundly grateful for the DSL tech who talked with me three times yesterday, after a five-day attempt to get us hooked up. With my computer available to me again, I'm back in my comfort zone.
11. My haircut is good for Washington State, where there's some moisture. But curly hair in Arizona looks like straw. I need to figure out how to handle it. Maybe a shorter cut, a bandana, a headscarf?
I don't care how cold it is, if I can see the sun. But I repeat myself.