chapter 1

Arrival in Phoenix (Arizona, USA)

It was hot. Much hotter than I had expected when I left home about twenty hours ago. The flight itself took about twelve hours: seven from Amsterdam to Philadelphia and about five more for the second stretch, to Phoenix. Before and in between there had been hours of waiting, checking in, waiting, embarking and waiting again. As a matter of fact travelling is just a sequence of waiting in different places.

After a nervebreaking entrance procedure - it took me almost two hours to get through American customs, filling in forms, leaving behind fingerprints and irisscans and answering questions - I finally managed to reach my rental car and leave Phoenix Sky Harbour. I drove carefully to my nearby hotel in Mesa. I checked in and went straight up to my room on the seventh floor. The view was great: on one side the airport with incoming and outgoing planes, on the other side a view at lots of hotels. To me - a visitor from Europe - they all looked the same. I guessed one had to be American to appreciate the subtle differences in style. I moaned. The journey had taken its toll and the time difference only added to it. It was about 13.00 hours. I had a whole afternoon and evening before me. But In 'my time' it was four o’clock in the morning: late at night after a long and tiring journey. I had to stay awake till at least eight in the evening and than make sure that I would have a good night's sleep. Next morning it would take a two hours drive to Tucson, than I had to find the Vivace restaurant in the northern part of the city and make sure that I would arrive way before She would be there. The date had been made by email. I was stupéfait that She did accept my invitation which I send Her about two months ago. Since than it had costed me lots of effort and inventiveness to convince everybody that I just hád to go on holiday to Arizona and that I had to go alone. Of course, everybody - Brigitte included - knew that I had really enjoyed the two earlier trips to this part of the States. But why on earth would I like to go back to Sedona for a third time? And moreover: why on own? My reasons were plausible enough I gathered.  I needed private time after everything that had happend: the loss of my mother first, follewed by the loss of my job. It was vital for me to get closure on both and no, I didn't need company. No, I wouldn't be lonely. It's really amazing who much arguments you need to convince people that you will be perfectly good on your own. I did understand the objections and tears of Brigitte. Of course she didn't understand it. She knew me far to good and - more important - she knew I was lying to her. Normally, that would have been enough to alter my plans. But not this time. I put it through, bought my ticket to Phoenix and booked my hotel in nearby Mesa. From there on my trip would officiallly be: Sedona - Four Corners  - Utah - Salt Lake City - Flagstaff (daytrips to Jerome and Prescott) and back to Phoenix. In reality I would go to Tucson, have lunch with Mistress Karin von Kroft and than... Well, as a matter of fact, from that date on my three weeks holiday in Arizona hadn't been filled in yet. Of course, I had my plans for three very busy weeks, but it would all depend on Her. Would She accept my proposal or just laugh in my face and leave me with nothing than to pay for a meal that She probably even wouldn’t have touched. I felt nervous. I took a beer from the little fridge in my hotel room and I called home. ' Yes, I arrived safely. Yes, the journey was okay. No, I had no problems with customs. Yes, I went straight to my hotel. No, I wouldn't drink too much. Yes, I would sleep for at least eight hours before I would drive to Sedona. And yes, I love you too. Kiss, kiss and goodbye.'  I just felt exhausted. The beer did its benificial work and so did the conversation I just had. Tomorrow would come the hardest bit: telling her that I wouldn't be in touch for three weeks. Sure, hell would break lose after that, but I didn't give a shit. It was me-time now. For the first time in my life I would do whatever I wanted and needed to do. No matter the consequences. Not matter the cost, in every meaning of the word...