I’ve just about caught up on my sleep after Caroline’s visit.

We certainly put out a lot of energy over those five magical days, and I partied more than usual.

Yesterday was spent mostly resting, with a few short sessions of horn practice. It’s amazing how quickly the lip muscles weaken when I take a few days off.

My low energy level is also due to the high heat this week, with temperatures in the upper 90s, creeping towards 100 in a few days. This is slightly cooler than other parts of Arizona, at least, but our house is not insulated and the inside temperature reaches 90 degrees in some rooms. This really zaps me.

We’ve got a wall-banger air conditioner in the bedroom on one side of the house, and a large portable one in the salon (with the grand piano) on the opposite end. This is where we are currently hanging out. Luckily, the units keep these rooms passably cool, but we have to keep the a/c running constantly.

I shudder to contemplate our next electric bill!

In the desert, the sun is so bright and intense that it’s best to stay indoors until it dips behind the canyon late in the afternoon. Or if one must go out, wearing a large hat and sunglasses and staying in the shade as much as possible is highly recommended.

* * * * *

Yesterday, James removed all of his stock from his “junque” shop portion of the building he shares with Jody (hairstylist). It was quite an undertaking, since he gave away some of the stuff to various friends and delivered it personally, while other items went to the thrift store, and then he brought some things home. He spent much of the day doing this, and feels slightly relieved that the process of moving out of Bisbee has truly begun.

I feel like a “lame duck” here in town, now that most people know we’re leaving, but we’re still here for probably another five weeks.

It is interesting to gauge people’s reactions. Except for our very good friends Cynthia and Cowboy — who express genuine regret that we’ve moving — everyone else seems to be reacting defensively. They think James and I are slapping Bisbee in the face (when in fact we’re not; it’s simply not a good “fit” for us, personally) and somehow, our leaving brings up all sorts of stuff for them. It hits them where they live, so to speak.

It IS indeed challenging to make a living in this town, and I believe that many people here have a tough go of it unless they are independently wealthy. So it makes sense that they are defensive, a by-product of fear.

There’s a sort of group-rationalization going on here. At the potlucks, for example, everyone spends an inordinate amount of energy singing Bisbee’s praises, recounting for the umpteenth time their first experience with the town and how they immediately bought houses here. (Yes, James and I participated in this activity at first. It’s very seductive.)

Initially I enjoyed the potlucks. Everyone seemed so friendly! Soon enough, however, I realized that much of this was just surface interaction.

As James and I attended more and more potlucks, we started noticing that the above patterns were recurring over and over, with little variation. It was like each potluck was a replay of the previous one.

I repeatedly tried to get to know people better, digging deeper into their lives. But they never respond with anything beyond the usual surface platitudes and “first-time-I-saw-Bisbee” stories, which we’ve already heard ad nauseum.

One of the most notable patterns in these social gatherings is how no-one seems at all interested in James’ or my lives; they ask us very few questions unless it pertains to them or the town.

It is not my intention to have a “sour grapes” attitude about Bisbee. As this process of discovery and living here has unfolded over the past few years, I realize that my perceptions about the town and people were actually in place almost as soon as we arrived — but I dared against hope that I was mistaken.

Well, I wasn’t. The glimmers of doubt have turned out to be true. For us, anyway.

James and I brought Caroline to the potluck last Friday night, her final evening in Bisbee. Perhaps my current state-of-mind has irretrievably colored my world, but it seemed that this potluck was particularly unpleasant. People stared at us in an unfriendly way and gave off unwelcoming vibes, as though they didn’t want to be approached. I could tell that many of them already know about our imminent departure, but they didn’t ask us any questions.

I know that one woman in particular realizes full-well that we are leaving, but she acted totally surprised (and displeased) when James told her the news. In fact, she was abrupt and rude in the extreme. It appeared that she had been drinking heavily. She was very rude to Caroline and barely acknowledged James and me, except to say ‘I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all!’

Nothing about how she was going to miss us.

She snarled at James, “Is it about money, then?” He assured her that it was not.

“You just didn’t give Bisbee a chance!” she retorted. Caroline and I exchanged glances and we simultaneously rose from our chairs and left the deck. I gestured to James that we should go, which we did shortly afterward.

Ugh. That’s the last Bisbee potluck I ever want to attend.