Once the adventure of moving to start over was a source of inspiration and excitement for Kitty. This time around though, maybe due to her going from the city to a rural area, or maybe it was because she just didn't have it in her anymore, Kitty found that she stayed by her house more than ever in Arizona. To take up her time, Kitty occasionally worked as a consultant or temp for any local hotels or bed and breakfasts. Blair being her true friend would often send her business whenever she could. Blair even took the time to visit whenever she was in town. Those times were few and far between and Kitty found that her life had become uneventful for the most part, causing her to put her efforts into maintaining a correspondence with Pam, Opal, and Guy. Stafford still kept to himself. When he did communicate with Kitty she felt exhausted by his unrelenting depression. Kitty had strongly hinted to Stafford that he needed to see an actual professional for his troubles. Kitty though, thought it was ironic that she sought out Stafford for the physical needs Gavin could not provide when they were having their affair. Now Stafford flipped and expected her to fill his emotional needs with long-drawn-out talks about Marnie. Kitty considered that this must be how Stafford felt about her when she would call him out of the blue during all of those years when she was with Gavin.
Kitty did develop a routine in Arizona, although being alone like she was, took some getting used to. She started projects to upkeep her home, things like painting her kitchen and retiling her entryway floor for a start. Her little dogs gave her joy as well. They were funny in that they each had haughty personalities that would show through when she would play with them. Gavin came out to tour Arizona in what Kitty could only assume was his way of scoping out the place to see if he should make the move himself. He went home to Chicago after a few days before he encouraged her to move back to the city too. Kitty felt like that time in her life in Chicago was behind her. She no longer pictured herself as a person married to the city. At first, she thought she didn't want to live in Chicago anymore because of the long legal battle she had with the horrendous bartender. In hindsight, she saw that she held onto Chicago because it was her first big break to get a life for herself outside of Cincinnati and away from her troubled upbringing. He may have tried to hide it but Kitty could see that Gavin was lonely. Kitty knew that Gavin felt like he had to buy his romantic interests' affections, which he could not see for himself was what doomed him to be alone. At least Guy had a more steady love life, as he tended to not seek out his partners but to maintain and cultivate the relationships he already had.
It was the hottest summer Kitty had ever endured in Arizona during her first year there. Her poorly maintained air conditioner broke at nine am and Kitty had to flee from there by the time the repairmen came at ten. She opted to upgrade the unit from a swamp cooler to something more substantial. The repairmen told her it would take a full day for what she was requesting. Kitty consented before taking her mail from her driveway box and heading for the climate-controlled coffee shop two miles away. Kitty sat down after ordering and let the cool air inside the building soak into her skin. It was calming to her as she took a bite from her blueberry muffin before she sipped at her iced tea. Her mail was a bundle of the usual; catalogs, bills, junk until she came to a letter from the correctional facility Pam was incarnated in. Kitty opened it wondering if Pam was being released sooner than expected. To her horror, the letter indicated that Pam had died of a heart attack in the prison's infirmary two days ago. The letter had an official contact number for her to follow up. Kitty's hands were shaking as she hoped this was an error. Kitty dialed the number the letter indicated and tried to hide her face as she walked to her car, the tears streaming down her cheeks. The person on the other end of the line explained that Pam complained of feeling tired and suffering shortness of breath. Pam was stabilized with medication and seemed to have recovered. As per the prison protocol, Pam stayed in the infirmary for observation overnight and was dead by morning, having passed in her sleep. The report mentioned that Pam's youth drug addiction likely played a role in compromising her circulatory system. Once the details of what had happened to Pam were laid out, Kitty sat there unable to move in her parked car until the heat snapped her back into reality. Kitty called Gavin who helped her as she made the needed arrangements to have Pam's cremated remains transported to a local funeral home in Arizona. She then scheduled a small service for Pam, where only she, Guy, and Gavin were to be present. Kitty would be damned if her sister were to be buried in the prison cemetery and forgotten.
Gavin and Guy gave their best support to Kitty, but they both also had to go back to their lives. Guy was busy establishing his career now that he was done with college, while Gavin had people and projects to manage in Chicago. Each offered for Kitty to stay with them until she was feeling better, but she would not impose on those she cared about. She saw them off at the airport. Gavin to Illinois, Guy to Connecticut. That night Kitty could not sleep or think. She only held her pillow as she cried, her little dogs snuggled beside her. By the early morning, she broke down and called the person who was the epitome of grief, Stafford assuming he would try to be there for her. Their chat was brief but it did end with him agreeing to go to see her. He drove there but he was not a very good shoulder to cry on. Stafford was an only child, no matter how hard Kitty tried to explain it, Stafford was unable to relate to her. Kitty could not get comfort from him and by the day's end, she asked him to leave because he was only making her more upset. Any malady in life was better to go alone than to have a person like Stafford make the situation worse at every turn. He was a sort of broken leg to have around. Even when he was trying to be helpful he was a condition himself to have to manage. Kitty was starting to see why Marnie met the end that she did. Marnie loved Stafford. She wanted to be his ideal and she was. Kitty saw him as a hope that he would change one day, which he never did, she only got used to him as himself. Kitty would never admit it to anyone, but being married to Stafford is probably what drove Marnie to the bottle.
Kitty found solace in her communication with Guy. As an adult, Guy was a person she held in high regard. The pettiness and flawed parenting both she and Gavin had in bountiful supply had not ruined him. Guy was a kind, intelligent, thoughtful person. He no longer was Gavin's little clone, something Kitty feared would happen. During a phone call not too long after Kitty washed her hands of Stafford, Guy told Kitty that he hoped to have a strong relationship with someone the way that she did with Gavin. This took Kitty off guard because she had not considered that Guy had ever seen her and Gavin's relationship as a marker to look up to. Their break-up had been cold and their relationship prior to that had mostly involved them avoiding one another for years. Kitty did not want to scare Guy away from the idealism of a romantic life with the right person, but she also wanted to be sure to convey the truth about relationships when the idealism had faded. Kitty as gently as she could caution Guy to not think of the romantic narratives that come with serious relationships, but to understand the person he was with, in the present, or risk the relationship losing substance. Kitty got that out of her system as a general disclaimer about dating, not sure if it would have the intended effect on Guy. She could hear Guy on the other end of the line as he sought the words to inform Kitty that he intended to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Her name was Erica. She was a computer programmer he explained. Kitty had met her a few times. They were college sweethearts. Kitty had no ill will toward Erica, she just hadn't realized Guy was already looking for a lifelong commitment, even though the two had been a couple for years by now. Kitty felt bad for bringing up the harsh realities of dating when her son had called her to tell her his good news. Kitty changed her tone and congratulated Guy. They left off by saying that they look forward to seeing one another at Christmas.
In the middle of the night, an inconsolable Stafford called Kitty. It seemed that Stafford's mother, Milly was in dire straights at a hospice facility due to complications from her inoperable ovarian cancer. The doctors said she only had a few days left to live at most. Stafford was grief-stricken because his mother was the last person in his family he had any connection to since father had died years ago. Kitty tried to understand how he felt. Losing Pam was very difficult for her, she didn't know if she will ever get over it. Pam was like a wayward mother to her. Kitty may not have respected her, but she loved her all the same. When Kitty explained this to Stafford he became angry with her for her point of view, saying that because she still had Gavin and Guy in her life she could never understand. Stafford condemned Kitty because he felt that since he had no children he would be alone forever. This stopped Kitty, she was at the end of her patience with Stafford. It may not have been the right time or the right way but she finally exploded. Maybe it was the years of putting up with a man who only ever made her feel bad or maybe it was just that she was tired of trying at all with a person who used her at every turn. She tore into him yelling that he was a fool because she had been there for him since they met, he just took her for granted. Thinking she might have reached Stafford who only seemed to respond to anger, she waited for his reaction to her tough love. Stafford instead of hearing the message Kitty was trying to convey hung up on her. Kitty wasn't sure if he would ever contact her again, but she no longer cared. Stafford was his own martyr who attacked anyone who tried to help him. Whatever they had once, was never healthy for either of them. It only took their attention from their own problems. Kitty could see that now. Stafford never found his happiness, only a short span of emotions ranging from indifference to hatred.
With her home repairs coming along, Kitty found that she was in need of extra funding to tackle her bigger projects. It didn't take long before she decided to take on a part-time job teaching at the high school as a substitute teacher. Most of her days are dull as she primarily played History Channel movies for the students. She also volunteered at the animal shelter from time to time. She realized that she was the goofy old lady one day when she assembled a wall-mounted spice garden on her back porch. She laughed at herself in her kaftan dress and wooden clogs, while her little doggies were making mischief in the yard. She hadn't been sure if she could go back to her birthday in Chicago or if she should have taken that corporate job or not. Would it have saved her from the legal battle? Would her knee still have been damaged? She sat on her patio sipping her tea thinking that she was where she was supposed to be. She had not turned into Opal, the hovering mother to Guy. She had not become the bitter ex to Gavin, who was now her friend. She found her own way without becoming Pam or reliving her parent's mistakes. Kitty had been true to herself. She was who she had to be and she did not hate herself for it. As much as she enjoyed her friendship with Blair she knew that Blair was having trouble in her professional life. Blair had held onto her career so much so that she had nothing else to cling to. When Blair's ride was over she would be alone and feel used up by the process. Kitty felt contentment and peace. There was a balance in her life that she restored by leaving the city. Her life was not on autopilot or stuck in a grin-and-bear-it mode. She was present, she was fulfilled. This feeling washed over her in her simplified setting. She reveled in it as she sipped her tea and read the newspaper.
A few short months later it was time for Christmas and for Kitty to go back to her once the home in Chicago to see Guy and Gavin. As she drove in her rental car she saw the beautiful and much-missed snow in the city during the holiday season. It was so different from the slow country life. Kitty had almost forgotten how different the traffic flow was from Arizona. When she arrived at Gavin's townhouse Opal greeted her at the door. Kitty hugged her with affection. The woman she once dreaded the sound of her knocking on the door had become dear to her over the years. Kitty was sad to see that Opal's age had caught up with her. Gavin was at the airport picking up Guy and Erica, giving Opal and Kitty time to sit down over a cup of coffee. Opal told Kitty how she loved the retirement community back in Florida. Kitty smiled genuinely as Opal spoke of her flirtations with the other residents. Kitty finally fully appreciated that Opal was a sweet grandmother to Guy. Kitty filled Opal in on the details of living in the southwest. Opal promised to go see her one day, Kitty thought the gesture would be nice if not realistic for a person who had as poor of health as Opal. The trip from Florida to Illinois was difficult enough in the best of accommodations for Opal. As for Kitty, Gavin would not hear of it when Kitty said she would stay at a hotel. He adamantly urged Kitty to stay with him in his guestroom saying that Guy staying with Erica in the city was making the house lonely enough as it was. That night they all had dinner at Gavin and Kitty's restaurant where they had met. Kitty sat there taking in the scene as times had certainly changed. Guy and Erica were cozy sitting together. Kitty and Gavin were chatting with Opal over the meal. It was like old times, but more sincere and hopeful for once. There was no longer an underlining tension.
When the meal was over, Guy and Erica went back to their hotel room. Gavin took Opal and Kitty to his home. Opal was depleted from the day's events and went right off to sleep. As for Kitty she and Gavin stayed up, sitting on the sofa together. As they watched old Doris Day movies the topic of loneliness came up. Gavin asked Kitty if she was sad to be living by herself in Arizona. Kitty told him, having nothing to hide that she was happier now than she had ever been. She also said that Blair was retiring to Arizona soon to take care of her parents. There was no thought of loneliness in her life. Hearing this Gavin admitted to Kitty that he was single again but added that he won't retire because he would be too lonely. She suspects that Gavin is trying to lead the conversation to her moving back with him. Kitty sometimes thinks about getting back together with him, but still finds him to be more a distant friend than a love interest. She reassured Gavin that she would always be there for him, but that she left and she did not want to go back, she had evolved past that part of herself. Gavin agreed and went to sleep in his room. Kitty could tell he was always stuck as he was in the same way of life that he had been when they met all of those years ago. He was still in the same job, in the same city, doing the same things. Kitty was his singular moment of spontaneity. Kitty though had an entire life of nothing but spontaneity. Their relationship was a fluke of fates. She used to think it was a misalignment of events that brought them together, but she now saw it as just a thing that had no power or meaning, other than what it was. They were neither made for one another nor destined to be repelled in the same manner. It was just the timing and place as it was.
The next day was Christmas Eve. Gavin and Kitty went out for some last-minute shopping. Gavin was good enough to pick up the tab. Opal preserved her energy by staying at the house. Over lunch, Gavin and Kitty met up with Guy and Erica. Kitty and Gavin looked on as the young couple talked about their lives together in Connecticut with pride. They had all of the hopes a young couple should have. They had plans they agreed upon and things they wanted to work toward together. Guy was doing well at work. Erica was excited about the future too. Kitty liked Erica, she was kind but sure. She made a good complement to Guy as a person. The two went off to go ice skating, with Gavin and Kitty declining with the excuse that they were due to check on Opal. In the car, Kitty spoke to Gavin telling him, this last year had been hard for her, but that she was glad that things were going well for the Alton family. When Gavin pulled up to the house he sat in the car for a moment before turning to Kitty saying that he was sorry for never proposing to her. He said he knew had wronged Kitty when he married the nanny, but not the mother of his child. Kitty apologized too, saying that she made it difficult for him because she was resentful of him for her own insecurities and too immature to realize it. She wanted to feel control in of the situation by rejecting what she never received even though it was her very actions that were the problem's source. Gavin held Kitty's hand a moment before they both went into the house to prepare for their family tradition of opening their Christmas stockings after dinner.
Dinner was ordered in. They each wore their thickest knitted sweaters. It was a lovely evening and the night was filled with laughter and carols. They all laughed at Kitty's tiny dog's stories, as she talked about how she missed her "little babies" back at the petsitter's in Arizona. Erica reminisced about her family, who had a small goat farm in Indiana. She mentioned that they are visiting Guy's family because last year they visited hers'. Guy excitedly brought up that her family was in the business of artisan cheese. Gavin smiled as he asked Guy if he would send him pictures of it. Kitty hadn't seen Gavin smile enough in their time together, it brought her a good feeling when he did. By the fireplace, as planned Guy dropped to one knee as he proposed to Erica. She screamed with glee and said "Yes!" Opal wiped a tear from her eye as Erica hugged her and ran off to call her family to tell them the news. Gavin patted Guy on the back and Kitty held her son's hand before going to check on his now-fiancee. In the living room, Gavin and Kitty smiled at one another, knowing that Guy might be able to have what no one in that room ever had; a relationship based on love.