Saturday, August 13, 2011
Bisbee and Me
In my [as of yet unpublished] memoir, I write about Bisbee. About how I thought I might move there so I took a drive over from Amado and how it was obvious, from just a few minutes in town, that Bisbee did not want me. I won't go into all the whys and wherefores of that here. What I recently remembered was I had the same feeling about Bisbee a few years before that when I'd taken a road trip from Portland to see if the desert southwest was where I wanted to be (it was). As I came through the tunnel and saw the pretty little of town of Bisbee, I was unnerved. Rattled. Almost scared. And that was before I even reached the open pit mine. I don't know why it affected me in that way. As I drove through town I couldn't bring myself to stop. That night I stayed at the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas.
So it's a little strange that I ended up living in Bisbee for a year after leaving Amado and after a year in Kino.
In a lot of ways it was not a good year. My newfound self-confidence and joie de vivre vanished. I lived in Warren, in a warren. No wide open spaces, no grand vistas. It was a bug-infested lot without porch, patio, enticing outdoor space. I spent too much time inside my tin can writing and working. Both good things but unhealthy when it came to fitness and weight. I drank too much. Even did cocaine on a regular basis. After a year I knew I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't stay there and, not knowing where to go, I headed back to Kino.
All that being said, Bisbee was good to me. I needed to be there - or in the States at least - to get work. I met some truly wonderful people mostly through my friend and landlord Jack. But the best thing to come out of Bisbee was the Cochise Writers group.
I was pretty fucking scared the first time I went to the meeting at the library. I didn't know what to expect, having never been in a writing group, and when it came to sharing my own writing I was terrified. I'd had a friend or two read early drafts of my book but would I have the courage to have writers read what I'd written?
All in all, the feedback I received from members of the group was positive, helpful, encouraging. It was the spark I needed to close myself up in that tin can and write, write, write.
It's been three years since that year in Bisbee and each year (usually late summer or fall) I've returned for an extended stay. As with that up-and-down relationship, good and bad things happen to me in Bisbee. Friends die, bugs attack, my health fails. I reconnect with friends (who haven't died), listen to Terry Wolf at the Copper Queen Hotel, and once again sit in with members of the Cochise Writers group (who just started a secret blog which ain't no secret no more).
It's Saturday in Bisbee. I've spent the morning doing what I do in Bisbee - writing, working. And this afternoon I'll do what I like to do most in Bisbee - head over to hear Terry Wolf at the Copper Queen Hotel. My bug bites are about gone and I'm adjusting to the altitude. A friend has died but he wasn't from here; he was a friend from over Santa Cruz way.
Relationships are not perfect. That's a hard lesson for me as I've left so many people and places because they weren't "just right." So, Bisbee, a toast: Thanks for the good times and even the bad. As much as I say I'm never coming back, I'll probably see you again next year.