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The girl wears a Crayola blue helmet,
a tangerine dress, bubblegum pink tights
with white polka dots the size of
ping-pong balls. Her mother has pulled
her aside by the curb and told her
that it’s time for them to return home.
The girl screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”
into her Pokemon knee-pads, into the
pastel green body of her bike, into
the lavender handlebars, into the
white faux-wicker basket containing
nothing but the force of her scream.

It’s April in Arizona,
on the cusp of dusk,
and the girl simply doesn’t want
to go inside. She wants to hang on
to the corners and edges of the day,
gripping onto her handlebars with
the unique force of child-like desire.

I walk the sidewalks covered in a
thin layer of red dust. I like how
the roots of trees can disrupt the
once flat path of sidewalk, making
the slabs uneven: tectonic plates
of concrete creaking imperceptibly.
The next driveway has four horseshoes
embedded in it. The gate beyond the
lucky driveway has an open iron gate:
they are barbecuing in April. The smell
of grilled meat and sweet sauces is
delectable and for a moment, I consider
walking through the open gate, pretending
to be a new neighbor or someone’s cousin
once removed.

Instead, I keep walking, my newly acquired
pink flip flops slapping against rectangles
of concrete at various heights. The night
pushes further into dusk and I increase
my speed, remembering last night’s report
on the local news about rabid raccoons
and bats. I arrive unscathed, eating
popcorn, drinking wine, and falling
asleep to Saturday Night Live. Just as
the little girl was not yet ready to
go inside, I am not yet ready to leave
Arizona: the warmth its sun has awakened
something powerful and playful within.

But it is time to say goodbye to sun
and desert and return to rain and
mountains and huge expanses of water.

I think I will miss the palm trees most.

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