I’ve talked quite a bit about my house, and all the work I have done (and am still doing) on it, so I thought I’d talk about why I live here, in Arizona.
Number one reason: AZ HAS WARM WINTERS.
I do love New Jersey. I love it so much, I really wouldn’t mind moving back there someday. I had a chance to move back there in 2003 or so, but that window closed and it didn’t happen for a few reasons. Now, it’s basically impossible. I have the house, of course. I need to live in it for 3 years, or I will need to pay back that $8K tax credit to the IRS. Also, the market is still dropping and my house wouldn’t likely sell for the amount of my mortgage. It could, I think, but I don’t know. It would be close. But I want a profit when the time comes to sell, like any of us. So I’ll be there for awhile.
Anyway, I sound like I am just dying to move to NJ, and that’s NOT TRUE, really. It might be nice to think about sometimes, but the truth is I am very content living here in Arizona. I’ve got a life here, and friends I’d miss if I were to ever leave. I do love the weather for 7 months out of the year. It’s cheaper to live here, for sure, and the rest of the state is pretty nice.
I moved here in June 1998, about 7 weeks after my Mom had her brain aneurysm. Common sense said that we should have waited and stayed-put in NJ so she could recuperate properly, but we were kind of stuck. My Mom had already sold the condo we were living in, all three of us had given notice at our jobs, and the placed was half packed. It would have been a big hassle to try to undo everything. And besides, my Mom really wanted to go to AZ. (At the time, she was dating a guy from AZ, but I know she also loved the weather and how pretty it is here.)
I wanted to move here because, like I said, it was warm. I used to look on the map while watching the weather and always wish to be where the little shining sun icon was, all year long. Back then, I guess I had enough of the winter or something, because I was so ready to give it all up and trade it for hot-as-steaming-shit summers.
It really IS a trade-off. Because man, the summers are furious. The heat gets inside of you and pummels your ass like you’re the new dude in the prison yard. Everyone who lives here becomes Arizona’s bitch once the summer hits. We give up. We remain indoors, only venturing out to go into offices or stores, and running the A/C in the cars at maximum, hoping to see a drop on the temperature gauge so the inside of our cars are no longer 140 degrees F. (And yes, that reading is real. I’ve seen it more than once in my own car when I get into it after leaving it in the sun for a little while.)
But it’s really cool to love the rain, love overcast days and storms. I never hated the rain and grayness in NJ, but out here, I truly appreciate it. It’s completely different here. The rain smells incredibly clean and sweet. And you can see a storm coming over the land from a distance, which is awesome. When we have a rainy day, I want to play hooky from work and stay home, with the windows open, listening to the rain and taking walks outside in it. Since it’s sunny all the time, an overcast day is a welcome rest for your eyes and head from the constant bright glare.
It’s just nice to appreciate weather. And be thankful for it.
And the roadtrips out here are awesome. I love going “up North” for a day or two, whenever I can. Usually this only happens when someone from out of town is visiting, and we go on a little ‘tour’ of AZ. But sometimes, I’ll go for a day, maybe with my sister… last summer, we did that beautiful hike in Oak Creek Canyon. Other times, we have gone to Flagstaff to wander around and shop, or to Jerome to do the same kind of thing.
I like that it’s easy to get pretty much anywhere out here. The city is based on a grid, so once you know what direction you’re facing, you can find places relatively easy. And there are only so many roads outside of the Phoenix area, so it’s tough to get lost… just follow the long, long road through a whole lot of open land, straight, for an hour or so, and sooner or later you will hit a little town or a sign telling you where you want to go. It’s not like driving around NJ, where one road turns into another road and you need to merge to the right, but not ALL the way to the right, since the road forks at the light, and then you need to pay the tolls for the turnpike, and then if you miss your exit you have a hell of a time getting back to where you are going… yeah. That’s another part of NJ I don’t really miss.
It is weird to realize that this summer, we will have been living here 13 years already. I had no idea this would be a permanent move, when we did it all those years ago. I thought it would be a decent place to get some work experience and live cheaply for a few years before heading “back home” to get a real career going and settle down with someone. Well, yeah… that plan didn’t quite pan out. But it’s really OK.
I have a lot of great things in my life here, and I’ve had a lot of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Sure, a majority of them that involve dating/engagements/ marriages, I could have done without, but still. I know it all boils down to lessons I had to learn about myself and paths taking me in the direction I am meant to go, yadda yadda. I’m here. I’m this person, right now, for a reason. I’m along for the ride.
Fortunately, it’s a nice, long ride through mountains and open expanses of land. And I have some awesome music on the iPod. I’m ready to go.
This is actually a road in my city, Mesa. (Power and Usery, if any of you locals are curious.) I didn’t take this photo, but it’s still got my favorite elements of a good AZ road: greenery, wide-open road and sky, with mountains.