Our week in Flagstaff was a good one, filled with good conversation, a trip to the Grand Canyon and plenty of late nights.  I hadn't had time away from typical life, a proper vacation, since I was 12 years old and it was refreshing.  I don't believe I'd experienced the kind of connection I felt with the Schneider's ever before in my life either.  Whether I realized it at the time or not, I can see now how that time planted seeds of hope in the parched ground of my heart.

(At the Grand Canyon)

Jeremy introduced me to his hometown and a few friends and we had a week full of low key, casual and comfort. I'd not been in the snow much prior to that and thoroughly enjoyed the way the blanket of white completely altered the landscape.

(Posing for Dorothy's ever-ready camera! I was delighted to do so as I'd had very few pictures made since I'd moved to AZ and I did enjoy being in front of a camera.)

(In Mom and Dad's front yard when we were about to go cross-country skiing for my first time ever!)

(I recall Bob saying to us, at the time this picture was taken how the two of us were 'like a couple of band-aids, always stuck to each other'. LOL, not much has changed.)

Finally, our week ended and it was time to head home.  Reality crashed back in on me and the weight was heavier than I'd anticipated.  My first stop after I left the Schneider residence was to gas up and buy cigarettes. Jeremy wouldn't be returning to Tucson for several more days and I took the opportunity to smoke my pain away.  Not that it helped really, but it an instinctive response.  I don't recall craving cigarettes at all during my stay in Flag, but as soon as I left.........

I spent the next three days smoking and working.  I'd come home to a VERY angry roommate and now I was going to have figure out how to smooth things over.  I'd left Terri with minimal explanation as to why I was leaving and how long I would be gone.  I'd also left her to care for my 2 adult cats and a batch of kittens.  Let's just say Terri wasn't so much a fan of the 'arrangements' I'd made, or not made perhaps is a better way to put it.

In hind-sight, I did Terri wrong, but at the time, with my identity fully wrapped up in being a victim, I somehow felt she owed me the care of my cats.  Looking back, it was a ridiculous assumption, but my immaturity was showing itself clearly.  All I thought of was myself and my pain and my actions hurt for my roommate, made her feel insignificant.  I wasn't able to see through my grief that other people still mattered.  I suppose Terri didn't see me accurately either, but in the end, we are all responsible for our own response and I'd responded poorly.

My relationship with Terri deteriorated quickly from there and it wasn't long before I was forced to move out.  As luck would have it, a studio apartment opened up in the same complex and I quickly moved in. It was very small, perhaps 15 x 15 plus a bathroom and closet.  

I still owned no furniture so I haulted my mattress in and set up shop.  Someone must have donated a small dining table and two chairs as I recall having those.  I don't believe I spent a great deal of time at home, at least, I only have a couple of specific memories of being there, though I lived there for two or three months.    

I wish I had a photo of the bomb that was my studio, you'd get a laugh out of it. I was the poster child for a teenager's messy room.  I can still see it in my mind's eye.  The floor, completely covered with laundry and cat hair, the bed never made, the closet with more clothes on the floor than on hangers.  I think the kitchen may have been relatively tidy since I rarely used it.  In general, it looked like a bomb went off in there.  And yet, Jeremy kept on coming over. Apparently, he didn't mind too much.

We didn't often go to his place since Cole was there. An awkwardness had developed between the two guys since Jeremy and I had begun dating. So, we avoided each other.

It was during this time that Jeremy taught me how to ride a motorcycle.  He'd recently purchased a motorcycle for his dad, but hadn't transported it to Flag since it was too cold to ride in there anyway. The Kawasaki staying in Tucson for a while provided the perfect opportunity for Jeremy to give me riding lessons.

We began lessons in the parking lot of my old high school during the late afternoon when the biggest lot was empty and I learned how to ride in circles.  Pretty quickly, I graduated to the streets and we began taking rides together. 

Come to think of it, a lot of our dating activities included motorcycle riding.  That was Jeremy's favorite activity and I was happy to go along.  It was especially exhilarating once I learned how to ride myself. Our free time was often spent either riding, or planning for the bike I'd get soon.  We poured over motorcycle magazines and classified ads looking for the right one bike for me.  

Mind you, I didn't have a motorcycle license yet, but since I also didn't have a lot of regard for the law at that point, I wasn't terribly concerned.

We went along quite happily, as young couples in love often do, without much of a care.  But one day, all that changed.

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