Over 1400 pages of novel notes were based on my relationship with Benito, a complex and highly spiritual Mexican immigrant who changed my life. Not only was it a love story, it was an experience that taught me about spirituality and deep connection with others. We shared the same nighttime dreams. I would think of him and he would call within minutes of my thought of him. As I began researching and writing the novel, I would read him excerpts from it and he would say "How did you know that? That is EXACTLY what happened!" Or he would tell me a story and I would reach over, pull out my novel notes and read it back to him almost verbatim. It was bizarre! It was amazing. It was about connection and the knowingness that comes naturally when you allow things to flow in your life. At the time the title for the book was Don Coyote and has since been renamed Trickster.
So, back to Sedona. When I arrived at the private rental home, I was greeted by the owner Maria. She and I hit it off and we went for coffee at a local bakery before she left for LA where she was completing work on a screenplay. Over her coffee, she leaned towards me. "So, tell me what your book is about?" In a fragmented way, I told her it was about a Mexican guy and an American girl and that the backbone of the book was based on the life of the coyote who gets hunted, moves, adapts, survives and so on.
Maria says to me "Watch out the back in the morning and every day you will see a lone coyote passing through the backyard."
Maria proceeded later on in our conversation to tell me about what it was like for her to buy her land in Sedona and to build her home. It was built high on the rocks and in order to access the main floor, you had to go up 16 steps to get into the house. She told me a story that when they were clearing the land, they found human remains. Now, in NY, finding human remains initiates a call to the police. In Arizona, bones, ruins, the ancient past of the area is uncovered on a fairly regular basis, so it was really no big deal that she found a femur and pelvic bones! I enquired "What do you DO with the bones when you find them?" She replied,"I set them aside and that night I went out, lit a candle, said a prayer and buried the bones at the edge of the property." Taking a mysterious breath and looking to the left and then the right, she said to me in a hushed tone, "You know, I believe that the coyote that passes through each morning is the spirit of the guy whose bones those were."
Maria had no way of knowing that in my novel was a similar story. The Mexican guy's grandfather had traveled north to the US in search of work and had never returned. It turned out that grandfather's traveling companions had spotted a coyote at every twist and turn and they believed that the coyote was the spirit of the deceased grandfather who had been killed during a group border crossing.
At the end of the day, Maria was on her way to LA and I was settling into life at the rental house. I went to sleep that night in the master bedroom. The only book in the house was on the bedside table and it was on screenwriting.
The next day I had writer's block -- I was stuck! Until a light bulb went on in my head and I asked myself why I was writing the MOVIE in my head, trying to make it a novel instead? I then outlined the whole complex thing sitting on the back of Bell Rock on a Wednesday afternoon.... and then towards the day's end, with the scrap paper I still had left, I found myself drawing house plans (What house plans? Go figure!? Since when did I have an opportunity to build my dream house?)
The Sedona story continues -- Later that week I put my tourist hat on and head out to the Airport Vortex with my digital camera. The vortex gave me(on demand) a brilliant rainbow and then it gave me a guy who spoke to me and reminded me that there was a pot of gold at the end of it... which ultimately led for a search for the "pot of gold" which led me to the Elephant's Foot which led me to Painted Canyon Drive and I came to a stop at the side of the road at a Real Estate sign. (Hmm! I thought. There's a novel idea. After a lifetime in my hometown, I was considering what it would be like to have Sedona red rock views from my home).
As I was looking at and half-heartedly pondering the land for sale from my car at the shoulder of the road, two coyotes slowly appeared at the front of my car -- one looked me directly in the eyes; the other one nervously followed him as he headed into the parcel that was for sale. I don't know if there was meaning in this (? reasons for all ?) but I was very oriented to the coyote at this point in my trip. Was it a sign? Was the coyote guiding me?
The following week I was back in NY having lunch with my colleague, Mark. He asked me whether I had completed my novel during my time in Sedona. "Not yet," I replied, "but I've titled it Don Coyote." Mark then serenades the restaurant with "I am I Don Coyote the Man of Lamancha... Onward I go!" I made a face while I laughed at and with him. At the end of lunch we walked down the street and had gone our separate ways just as a woman was handing out flyers on the corner. I took a flyer to be polite and my jaw dropped as I glanced down at it. "Syracuse University Theater Productions presents: Man of LaMancha" and lo and behold, there was Don Quixote on his horse with Sancho Panza next to him.
Chock it up to irony?
So next thing I know I'm surfing the internet looking for Sedona Real Estate -- I couldn't help it, Sedona seemed to take hold of me. One day I got an email from Gretchen at Sedona Realty (http://www.sedonarealty.com/) and the subject line read "Cute Little House." I opened it and it's showed a two bedroom, one bath (read between the lines - affordable) with huge panoramic views of Sedona.
It was located on Tonto Rim Drive. I viewed the 360 virtual tour and decided that when I go to Sedona in August (four months down the road) if it was still on the market I would go to see it.
In the meantime (I have a tendency to enjoy researching details) I found out that the seller's name was Douglas Flackman, an oil artist. I had been told by Gretchen that the owner was relocating East to continue his work. Since this feng shui consultant wanted to learn more about the energy of the "previous owner," I Googled "Douglas Flackman" and was taken to a webpage where I could view his beautiful work. Must be a good energy person to do this kind of work, I thought.
Then I clicked on "Home" on the artist's page and it took me to the HomePage of the "Tilting At Windmills Gallery" and there -- once again, was Don Quixote on his horse! I begin to wonder if this house MUST BE FOR ME!? It was a long wait until my next planned August visit.
I argued with her to an extent that I had too much to do, but then I looked in my calendar and surprise surprise, I had "SEDONA" written on the weekend of June 25. My mother and I had planned to visit Sedona and Mom had made other plans and had to cancel but I had never removed it from my day planner. So, June 25th I was on a plane to Sedona for the second time - for four precious days.
Oh, and in the MEANTIME, I had been corresponding with a guy in Pennsylvania who specialized in the archives and collections of Carl Moon, who photographed Native Americans in the early 1900's. Author Tom Driebe sent me a complimentary signed copy of a coffee table book he had written and two little used books that he thought might be of interest to me. One of those books addressed the "People of the Tonto Rim" --- Could this be the SAME Tonto Rim that housed Douglas Flackman's house for sale, located on East Tonto Rim? I took the book with me on the trip.
But how do you put a price on the view from the coop?
(see below the view in my rear view mirror)
(I never noticed the glowing orby light at the lower edge of the photo until now)
I then drove down the street to a New Age shop and went in to buy a couple of souvenirs. When I approached the counter there was a lady in a long flowing mumu with long hair and big-lensed glasses. She was a bit strange-looking to me, as most of them were, but she looked at me with warmth and kindness and in a gravely voice said, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" I replied, "Yes and more. I'd better just move here so I can stop buying souvenirs!" She looked me straight in the eye and it was like the moment was frozen in time when she said to me, "You are being CALLED HERE, you know. You are MEANT to BE here. Do you KNOW that?" I said "I guess so," and I paid for my stuff, thanked her and left the store.
I returned to New York and proceeded to go home to get my house there ready to sell. After all, I had to sell the it to buy the land, so things were now set in motion. I was assuming my offer would be accepted.
And that was weird too! The buyer had come into NY from California for the weekend for a reunion. She and her husband took a trip down Memory Lane and drove by her Grandma's house and found that it was For Sale. She went up to the front door, looked in the window, called over to her husband, "Honey! I have to have this house" and he says "OK." They went to the reunion dinner, met with the realtor later, signing the paperwork late in the evening and were on a plane back to California the next morning. The house had come full circle and ended up back in it's own family.