Up at the house on the Winchuck River one night it was decided I’d be moving with Peggy to Arizona. We’d leave in two weeks. I told my Dad over the phone and he sounded a bit wounded but he assured me it would only be temporary until he and Lisa found a house. I’m not leaving you. You left me. Remember that, Dad I thought but didn’t say.
Peggy and I went down to the DHS office in Crescent City, met with a social worker named Pam, signed a couple papers and it was a done deal. There was no inspecting Peggy’s house, calling references, or privately interviewing me. You just looked at Peggy and knew she was the real deal. There was virtually nothing wrong with her. She was my perfect temporary guardian. She was my perfect permanent guardian but nobody wanted to go there yet. And I mean nobody. Not Peggy nor me. They talked like it would just be for the school year, but Arizona was hundreds if not thousands of miles away and as soon as we headed south I knew, I just knew the miles were coming between me and my old life. And a good part of me was really, really happy about that. The other part tried to remember landmarks for my runaway escape. Ch-yeah, ’cause that had gone so well the first time..
After a couple days of driving we ended up in Arizona. Peggy recalls what I said when we got there: “Where’s the water? No, seriously, where’s the water?” I found out the water came from faucets and deep underground, not pouring from the mountains like it did back home. We stopped off at an outlet mall outside of Phoenix and Peggy bought me some Levi’s, t-shirts, and a couple of new bras. We drove for another five hours south and finally ended up in what looked like the middle of nowhere. You could look in every direction, north, east, south, west but there was nothing there, just the horizon. We ended up in Sunsites, Arizona. Peggy owned a funny-looking little eggshell-colored house on Geneva Street. Geneva Street had a ton of funny-looking little eggshell-colored houses that Peggy called “stucco”. Stucco was this certain texture the paint had. The houses were boxy and had red-tiled roofs. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice.
School would start in three days. I would be taking the school bus to another town (El-fucking-Frida), where the high school was. Sunsites was initially supposed to be a retirement-only community but they ultimately couldn’t afford to keep the young folk out so it was ninety-percent retirement and ten-percent everything else. There was a ghost town a mile away. The nearest grocery store was thirty miles north. There was no mayor. There was a golf course which was a big deal. Tombstone was over a hill to the west and Mexico was forty minutes south.