Last night two friends and I attended a play on Okinawa - a performance by a local group of theatre aficionados that used minimal props in an elementary school cafeteria to bring a bit culture to our corner of the Pacific. It wasn't Broadway or the West End, but it was fun - and such a welcome break from the routine that seems to consume most of our time and energies.
I have been out here for nine months, and the thing that I miss most about the states is access to culture. Phoenix, Arizona, while being a racist wasteland on the surface, does have intelligent elements of its citizenry who are intent on offering up more for the residents than the relentless drumbeat of hate. There are a dozen or more good theatre venues in the Valley of Hell, and I had the pleasure of visiting many of them. The Valley also boasts art galleries and a nationally renowned dance company. And the all night jazz on the local NPR station, KJZZ, gave pure delight to sleepless nights! It was also in Phoenix that I came within whispering distance of Marlo Thomas and Jimmy Carter, and was close enough to Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy to be singed by their passion.
The other thing that I will always miss about Phoenix is my cadre of really good friends. The people that I allowed into my life there will remain in my thoughts and memories for a lifetime. They were a wonderfully selfless crew who would and did do almost anything to make my life in the desert bearable and fun. It must have been the heat that forged such strong friendships!