A whole year has passed since we left the salty suburbs for triple digits. Recently I had a conversation that went like this,
Me: What month does it start to cool off?
AZ Native: End of September, not too long.
Me: Really? So like what, in the 80’s?
AZ Native: Oh no, the 90’s.
To all of you who are FREAKING out in California about the past week or two of heat . . . Calm. Down. As soon as that sun sinks you very well know it will drop a good 10-15 degrees. To be fair, it drops a good 10 degrees in AZ as well . . . but all that means is instead of 112, it’s only a 102. Nothing like a good night sweat.
I will say that it is my first full summer (supposedly “the worst”). I am currently with child and have spent the past 13 years of my life in southern CA. So, all things considered, I think it’s understandable that I cringe when I can feel the heat bouncing off the pavement. Let’s just say, I haven’t checked the mail in a long time and I’ve grown to hate looking out the window and seeing blue skies. Isn’t that sad? But if anything it’s made me appreciate desert beauty, as small as it may seem sometimes.
And yet while our time here has been rather warm, this past year has been so “full.” We have been loved on, taken care of and ministered to in ways we knew not. Tangible needs have been met time and time again by both our community and nice men at the dealership who give you a major discount on your rental car (because both of your cars broke down in the same week and are taking up two spots at the same garage). We’ve always had just enough and paychecks seem to roll in the days when you least expected, not because you don’t need the cash but because you learned there is more joy in rest than worry.
We’ve hiked, eaten well (Arizona’s pickings are far from slim when it comes to good food and drink) and dived head first into some awesome libraries. We’ve had time to think, breathe and rest from what was. It’s given us ample time to learn and soak up new ideas, new authors and new purpose. We’re young kids, having kids, with a lot to learn. I feel like this past year has been a sweet grace in allowing us to grow into our skin and figure out our next step, as abstract as it may seem.
In addition to desert blossoms and good cocktails, I love our grunge. Some may laugh when they read this because downtown Phoenix is comparatively mild when it comes to, “downtown-ness.” But you have to remember, we come from the Inland Empire. In our circle of friends we were the only ones who knew what it was like to call 911 when you found a body in downtown LA and the only ones with stamps in our passports (heck, we might have been the only ones with passports). So when I say that Arizona is culturally diverse, hear me out. It isn’t all Volcom and Roxy.
When I venture a mere 20 minutes away from our cross streets, my white skin makes up about 50% of the population. When I venture a good 30-45 minutes away, I’m no longer 50%, it feels more like %10. Not just because I’m white but because of my clothes. My health. My mental state. My mode of transportation.
If this is where we are to begin raising a family, then I’m all in. I want our family to habitually cross cultural boundaries. To be familiar with weird smells, differing language and people who are simply not like them. Arizona has much to offer in this department (pause) if you are willing. Otherwise you can stay comfortable in your stucco house and pretend like your kids don’t eat processed foods because you shop at Trader Joe’s.
It’s been 365 days. Mostly comprised of heat and blue skies. It’s been a lot of chlorine, popsicles and what felt like an endless trimester of nausea and what looks like an endless horizon of rocks and lizards. It’s been a lot of books, City and Colour on repeat and choosing to try new things as the “new couple” instead of staying at home where it’s “safe.” It is these freeways that I think long and hard on. It’s this apartment where we are trying to love on those who (literally) live next door and it is these months were I am eagerly awaiting the few cold days that wait ahead. Yes, I do hate the climate. But I really love the soul quiet, the proximity to Whole Foods (I’m just being honest), the cultural diversity (remember people, Inland Empire) and the GIANT Christmas tree that will be put up in a few months at one of the many fancy malls. Even though it’s metal and faux fir, I love it. Arizona, you have been more than good to us. Here’s to the year ahead.