The Journey to Phoenix , 2022
60 x 42 x 1 in (h x w x d)
Mixed Media

"Two months later, I received a job offer in Phoenix. Apparently, while sending out an inquiry to the State of Arizona, the women veterans coordinator, Gabe Forsberg, recognized my name. She had seen the Lioness documentary and seemed tickled pink that I was considering moving to Phoenix. She promptly recommended me for a position in veteran’s education. The hiring process would take a while and she encouraged me to be patient and that all would work out. I took out a postcard of a saguaro cactus I bought in Tucson, gripped it tightly, and wished myself into the Sonoran Desert.

While keeping my eyes fixed on images of the desert, I still had a job to do. The dream was fresh on my mind throughout the workday and I felt a sense of urgency to do something, anything to make a change in my life. The dream itself wasn’t like a jarring hallucination of a fallen comrade, but it pulled me right back into the Chamorro idea of dreams as foretelling. All my life, I’ve been taking care of other people. From operating as a Lioness in Iraq to running this center, my work has always been about helping people find their path, their way through the worst of life. It was time I did that for myself."

- M.B. Dallocchio, "The Desert Warrior"

My journey into the desert wasn't just the one I took to Iraq, but also toward the US Southwest. I knew no one there, yet felt a call, a need to travel westward. I'm glad I had trusted these instincts. Nothing was working out for me in the East Coast and one day I decided to reinvent my life, to hit the reset button and start anew in Arizona.

I had no idea what I was getting into. But I knew one thing: it was time for a change. And so, with little more than the clothes on my back and a car loaded with my belongings, I started driving.

For days, I drove through state after state, marveling at the landscape and meeting new people along the way. Finally, I arrived in Phoenix—a city that would come to feel like home.

It wasn't easy at first. I didn't know anyone and had to start from scratch, but it was worth it. Slowly but surely, I built a new life for myself. And now, looking back, I can say that making that decision to start over was one of the best things I've ever done. It opened a door into so many new chapters of my life that have brought me so many new experiences and every single step has brought me to where I am today.

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