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"I never thought I'd get to see this"

September 10th, 2018

Here in Phoenix, it’s been a constant 104 degrees Farenheit or more since Scott and I arrived almost a week ago. The studio apartment provided by Arizona Opera is modern and sleek, and we have some great amenities in the building, such as a large gym, a community workspace, a zen garden, and an expansive pool, hot tub, grilling and lounge area. We almost never have to leave our block, if we don’t want to: There’s a coffee shop, an Italian pizza kitchen, and a gelateria all at the street level. The rehearsal and office space for Arizona Opera is *literally* next door (pretty sweet). So, despite the triple-digit temperatures this time of year, we don’t have to venture outdoors that much.

However, if you know Scott and me, you know that we don’t like to stay indoors for very long.

Afraid of being constantly cooped up in the air conditioning, we spent our first Sunday in Arizona driving north to Sedona to do some hiking (surprise surprise!). Of course, we checked the Sedona forecast before leaving, after having said, “Let’s go someplace cooler!”

I had been looking forward to seeing Sedona: When many of my friends and colleagues first heard I was moving to Phoenix, their first response was “You HAVE to go check out Sedona, it’s beautiful!” (Lookin’ at you, Dana Beth Miller and Vanessa Naghdi). Boy, were they right!

As we drove into the Oak Creek and Sedona area, Scott and I were amazed by the gorgeous, towering red rock around us. It reminded us of a combination of the Arches and Zion national parks. (I was barely lucid enough when we visited Zion to recollect that it was similar to what we were seeing in Sedona – but that’s another story, another road trip, another move!)

We found the trailhead we had chosen, a moderate five-mile loop called Soldier’s Pass Trail. We were thrilled at our choice: Every part of the trail offered vistas. Green shrubs and pine trees stood up out of the red soil, creating a Christmas-themed palette in September. We brought TONS of water with us for our hike – six liters – and consumed all of it by the end. #Desert.

As we continued to walk, there was a specific moment where I repeated a phrase that I tell Scott over and over when the southwestern scenery begins to get more dramatic:

"I never thought I'd get to see this when I was a kid."

To expand on this: Although I wasn’t an avid hiker until I met Scott in 2010, I’ve always had a love for the outdoors. (I grew up catching tadpoles and salamanders in the pond next to my house and running through long grass with bare feet.) More importantly, I can clearly remember sitting in my Social Studies classes in elementary school in Bennington, Vermont looking at pictures of the scenery across the United States. I was enchanted by photos of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and of the “purple mountain majesty” of the Rockies. I remember watching documentaries about the Pacific Coast Highway which overlooked Big Sur and wound its way down to the sunny and picturesque coast of Malibu. All of these places looked so fascinating and often Mars-like compared to the tame green hills around me. They seemed so far away and exotic, and although I lived in the same country in which they existed, I never thought I’d ever have the means to see any of these incredible landmarks.

Being a performer can be hard. Yes, this is an understatement. We carry our work with us, because our work is so personal. We sometimes might have to carry it from one end of the country to another, or it follows us through the door when we return from a long rehearsal. Our work often stands in the way of seeing our significant others, our friends, and our families for months or years at a time. Our work can prevent us from going home for the holidays. When we get out our suitcases, scrounge for the cheapest flight or fill up our gas tanks, or pack up our few belongings again and again, we may ask ourselves: Is it worth it?

My answer? Yes.

Yes, because the opportunities it’s afforded my husband and me are priceless. Yes, because my sense of adventure has increased ten-fold. Yes, because I’ve learned to be adaptable. Yes, because I find more clarity in my life and career goals every day. Yes, because of the amazing people I meet onstage or in the rehearsal room. Yes, because it’s taught me more about life than I ever could have dreamed. Yes, because now I have friends (who have become family) scattered in cities throughout the United States.

And yes, because this past Sunday in Sedona, I saw some beautiful sights that I never thought I’d get to see.

In this career, the lack of a home base or a “traditional” 9-5 job can be hard to explain to friends and family. And really, it’s just plain hard for us, the performer and her husband, to be far away and/or nomadic for that long. But when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the road ahead, I remind myself to take in the new and invigorating environment around me. There are so many sights, smells, flavors, cultures and experiences to enjoy with a new place, a new state, a new city that I don’t want to take for granted for a second.

As I begin a new journey in Arizona, there are many things I’m thankful for. I find solace in the fact that my husband is with me. I am grateful that this career has given us the opportunity to explore so many places that once seemed so far away. I remember that, whether near or far, I have an incredible net of mentors and loved ones who will be there to catch me at a moment’s notice should I need it.

And most of all:

I remember that I never would have gotten to see these sights if I didn’t love to sing.

This blog page brought to you by Katie Beck after many months of prodding by her husband, Scott Arno :)

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