“How did you happen to come here to the Verde Valley?”
“What brought you to Sedona, originally?”
These questions come up over and over, as we navigate socially through this beautiful Central Arizona area. So many of us mixed in a large dose of serendipity as we packed up, moved here. My story sure did!
In 2010 I was teaching in Loudoun County Schools in Northern Virginia. For the past six years I’d battled debilitating illnesses as I struggled to fulfill my obligations as reading specialist. Overwhelming fatigue, disorientation, frequent falls and poor balance. These plagued me. I had been hospitalized eight times. I had spent nine months on Family and Medical Leave, large chunks of the time without a salary.
Contracts for the coming year were being distributed. My principal was blunt. “Ann, if you are not certain you will make it through the next contract year without any significant absences, please think twice before signing your contract for 2010-2011.”
The previous month I had vacationed with a friend in Sedona. I had been taken in by the ethereal beauty of the rocks. I found a new kind of peace as I waded in Oak Creek. One day we drove through Cottonwood. I dashed into a realtor’s office to look at the price of rental homes. It seemed affordable.
On that trip I had gone to a Passover Seder at the synagogue in Sedona. My sickly demeanor caught the attention of another woman at the seder. “You would benefit from my Protandem vitamin supplement. Let me give you my business card.”
I pulled out her card. Her address was in Cornville. I remembered her saying she lived outside Cottonwood. I called her. “Hi. This is Ann. I met you at the seder.”
I poured out my story. I was looking for a place to relocate. Did she have any contacts who might know of rental properties?
“Oh, I have two bedrooms. You could rent out the second bedroom. Could you afford $650?”
We talked regularly over the summer as I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to my family and friends, and prepared to move west. She seemed very sympathetic. I felt optimistic about my move.
When I arrived in Cottonwood everything felt different. She left me for three days at the Days Inn, not even coming to visit. “You don’t have a car yet. What would you do here in this house, three miles from the stores?”
When I did move into her house she explained several demands. Since she could see the light in my bedroom from hers, she did not want me to turn on overhead lights. She removed those lightbulbs. She did not like the smell of garbage. All garbage was to be wrapped and stored in the freezer between garbage days. She insisted I use her water filtration system for my drinking water, but did not show me where the parts were to filter water. “Oh, I will be sure there is enough water for you to drink.” By the third day after she left for Mexico for dental work I had to buy bottled water from Fry’s.
It took me six weeks to go find my own house to rent. I moved out, and found I knew no one else in the area. It took me several months to make my own connections, feel at home in the Verde Valley.
Six years later I have many friends, a calendar full of activity, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Although I never sat and seriously weighed my options as I considered this move, it was the right one for me.
Many of my friends have similar stories of coming here.
“We came here on a vacation, and by the end of the week put in an offer on a house.”
“I was driving across country, detoured to Sedona, and never finished my cross-country trip.”
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"