After years of post-war wandering, I decided to do just that during a break from snowy Massachusetts that landed me in Arizona for a weekend in January 2010. The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, "The Desert Warrior":
"We arrived at the site as the sun began to set when another veteran exclaimed, "Turn around and look at the mountain, quick!"
As a few of us turned, our eyes were met with beautiful brilliant colors. The Santa Catalina Mountains were bright pink accented with shades of purple.
"I'm going to move here," I thought.
As romantic of a notion it may seem, something about being in the desert again - sans IED's, small arms fire, and the like - brought me a sense of peace that I hadn't felt in quite a long time. I wanted more of it.
Watching the mountains change colors flipped a light switch in my brain. I wasn't happy living in Massachusetts, working for a questionable organization, dealing with the aftermath of my divorce, and generally rebuilding my life in an environment where I perpetually felt like an outsider. Massachusetts didn't offer what this place could.
One afternoon during the workshop, a group of us war-weary veterans climbed up the side of the mountain next to the retreat center. We made it to the top of this peak that provided us an illuminated vista of Tucson. I breathed deeply, taking in every bit of cold arid desert air into my lungs like the first gulp of clean water after years of contamination. Then, looking around me, at the affects of my fellow wanderers, I saw a moment of hope and peace in their eyes. Crazy beautiful desert landscapes swallowed our heartache, even if it was just for a moment, and gave us a glimpse of what life could be like if we could just loosen the death-grip of our violent pasts."
An excerpt from "The Desert Warrior" by MB Dallocchio
Dispatches from an itinerant and irreverent artist.