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Phoenix, City of Mystery, of Enchantment and....

Today is the last blog swap with Evelyn @ Hanging by a Silver Lining. For our last we chose a topic near and dear to both of us... Arizona. One of the surprising things about Evelyn and I is that our lives have had parallel paths. We were raised in Idaho and both ended up in Phoenix. After your done with her post, be sure to hop on over to Hanging Silver to read mine. And don't forget to leave some comment love while you're at it!


Two and a half years ago I crossed the Utah/Arizona border in a moving van that was driving south. My face was wet and aching from crying and trying not to cry. Those efforts were only stunted by the hormones coursing through my pregnant body.

I was trying to be strong. For my husband, for my two small children, for myself. But I failed...miserably. Every mile that brought the Valley of the Sun closer only took me that much farther from my beloveds: family, friends, mountains, trees, green, cold, snow, familiarity.

I tried to think of my pioneer ancestors as my eyes took in Arizona. What did they feel as they relocated into Arizona? Brown, lifeless, barren, dirty, sandy, rocky, prickly, unfeeling Arizona. I was sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle nursing a water-bottle brim-full of ice-cold water. In a few hours I would be checking my email at a hotel to see how my family was doing. When I got to Phoenix there would be housing, food, technology, an established church for me to attend, a Walmart around the corner.

For my pioneer ancestors there would be none of this.

They deserved a good long cry. I did not.

Well, maybe just a little one, but certainly I didn't deserve to keep crying for the next two years I lived in Phoenix.

The first few days after we arrived in the largest city I have ever lived in, we chatted with a realtor about our new city. His words were "It's a dry heat" and "If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere".

Well...I couldn't make it.

Phoenix was so big, so ugly, so dirty, so strange, so noisy, so foreign, so scary, so violent, so corrupt, so brown, so dang HOT.

But I met people who loved it for all it was. They could see the beauty in the brown, the precious in the prickles, the deliciousness of the "dry" heat. I tried over and over to open my eyes, to see through their rose-colored sunglasses.

I couldn't understand it: Who would actually choose to live here?! For me, Phoenix had become a prison, my own personal inescapable hell. But for some, Phoenix was HOME. Phoenix was lovely and beautiful and inescapable, but for far different reasons.

After "serving" our two-year sentence, our debt to society was repaid and we were released back into the free and GREEN world. An improved economy finally allowed my husband to secure another job and we far away from Phoenix as we could get. Again, I was pregnant. And now with three little children. Again, I thought of my pioneer ancestors. And wondered if they were a little ashamed of my lack of grace and endurance.

And if I were being totally honest...a little sad to see Phoenix growing ever smaller in my rear-view mirror.

It is a "dry" heat after all.


Cannwin said…
Wal-Mart just around the corner? Where did you live? My Wally World was at least 15 minutes away... wait... EVERYTHING in Phoenix is at least 15 minutes away, it's a geographic anomaly of the place.
Sami said…
I was never sad about moving TO somewhere, but I was sure happy about moving AWAY from Boise. If I were a different kind of girl, I think a specific finger would have been flashed in it's general direction as we left.
Thank goodness we were only there for 9 months!
My SIL LOVES Phoenix. I think I trust your assessment more...
Love ya, Evelyn!
We lived in Glendale, right outside of Phoenix. Like the Phoenix border was a few blocks from our house. Walmart really was less than a mile down the road. Our church and school less than a mile in a different direction. So, so convenient, compared to here.

And at Sami- I lived in Boise too! For a little over a year, but I was pretty sad to leave it. Now to enter it...different story. But it converted me. :)
Lisa said…
Oh Eve - you make me laugh!!! I'm so sorry you had to serve a 2 year sentence outside of the paradise that must be Idaho... but I give you kudos for surviving it! :) You are an amazing woman to move across state lines not once, but twice while pregnant. Good luck in your new spot!
Katy B. said…
Wow....I had no idea you felt that way about our "valley of the sun". I guess its all about half empty/half full time of stuff. I'm glad you've found a place that doesn't feel so "prisionlike". :):) May things only look brighter here on out for you and your sweet family.

Josie still talks about your kiddies with nothing but smiles...and some frowns knowing they aren't in her primary every Sunday. :(
Watson Family said…
Change can be ever so hard, and amidst hormones, moving far from family, and all, viewing a city as "so big, so ugly, so dirty, so strange, so noisy, so foreign, so scary, so violent, so corrupt" is understandable! These are sentiments I've heard used to describe most major cities around our great nation as well, so while I'm a 5th gen AZ native I chose not to take offense as I might have felt as you did if I'd been forced to live so far from home and family. Perhaps I love the land where I live because I'm surrounded by those I love. And on a really hot day, I always try to remember how beautiful the desert is in springtime, how wonderful our winters are and that we can drive just an hour and a half to play in the snow, and year round we're blessed to live but a few hours from green and cool pines up north, not to mention the lakes, rivers, canyons and beauties of nature that my family spent plenty of time enjoying when I was growing up. Should you ever return to the Grand Canyon state again, I pray you'll be blessed to experience more of the warmth and beauty that I have. Happy Trails, dear stranger-friend!

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