Monday, September 21, 2009

The Three Year Mark

We're nearing the three year mark now since we started life over in Arizona. It's been an adjustment from Washington State to Phoenix. After living in a neighborhood on the side of a mountain in the same house for 20 years, we packed up everything and moved into a dirt construction zone. We were literally the second people to occupy the area. The first people lived right next door. We'd take walks through the neighborhood along the lakes at night and it felt like we were on a movie set after all the crews had gone home. Sixteen lovely models all lit up and decorated perfectly, but nobody home. After having lived in a quiet forest setting, I'd awake at 3 a.m. to the sound of cement trucks pouring foundations. There was also a Mexican cantina on a dairy farm across the main road that blasted music on Saturday nights -- The Cowboy Chaparral. Between that and the occasional smell from the dairy farm, I really wondered what the hell we'd done!

Three years later, the Mexican cantina's gone and the cows have moved a bit farther north. The immediate area around us is all built out, with most homes occupied. The trees and landscaping are maturing. But sometimes I still ask myself, if we had it to do over again, would we still make the move? Sitting outside having dinner tonight at a Chipolte Grill, I looked up at the tropical palms framed against the dark blue evening sky. Where was my camera! The sunset in the west was bright apricot outlining the distant mountains. And the answer is yes, we'd definitely still make the move!

While we're mostly in like with our Arizona life, we have had some rude awakenings in the adjustment phase:

It's a boom or bust area. The economy is either booming or it's bust. Right now it's bust! The Seattle area weathered recessions a lot better than Phoenix. Here, unemployment is rampant and foreclosures are everywhere.

Grammar. I don't want to sound like a snob, but when we first moved here, I noticed a huge difference in Arizona English. : ) I'd ask a question in a shop and the clerk would respond -- it don't matter. My son says it's a function of us having moved to a more rural suburb as opposed to Scottsdale, but I've noticed the grammar in the breakroom at work is hard on the ears. And some of the worst offenders are teachers!

The whole speeding thing! Phoenix is the land of speeding cars. The speed limit on main city streets is usually 45, which in turn means 55 or above to most locals. As my son's always said, mix high speeds with older snowbirds creeping along and it's a recipe for disaster! I do think the situation's improved slightly with all the speed cams, but it was shocking when we moved here. Especially since my little Bug convertible seems to be like a red flag waved in front of a bull to all these big trucks and SUV's. Some of them have literally tried to run me off the road. (And I don't even have any liberal bumper stickers on it.)

Big Hooters. We moved from the land of granola grunge to Hooterville! Everyone seems to be getting them. A neighbor was telling me about a family in foreclosure in the neighborhood. They can't make their house payments, but the wife's getting a hooter upgrade! The dress code is also different. The look seems to tend towards tight revealing clothes that show off those new hooters! And add a layer of sparkly things. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

The heat. Need I say more? But I actually think I'm adjusting. 100 in the shade feels just fine, but 115's still a problem. Today we broke a record with 104. Didn't feel all that bad to me! Of course, when I was outdoors I was in the pool! Tomorrow's the first day of fall, which seems strange since we really don't have a fall. Looks and feels like summer to me!

Bizarre right wing stuff. We also moved from liberal land up there in Western Washington to the land of the hard right. In fact, some of the stuff is so far right, it's a little bizarre. For example, a new state law takes effect September 30 allowing loaded handguns in restaurants and bars. It's always important to have your loaded gun with you when you're drinking -- that's for sure! Restaurant and bar owners really don't like it, and many are posting no guns allowed signs at the door. A few years ago, the state legislature also tried to pass a law that allowed guns on Arizona college campuses. Arizona is also the proud owner of Sheriff Joe. From all those e-mails that circulate round the country, people in other places must really want him! Would someone please come get him???

We live in the sticks. Literally. I was a city girl in Seattle. While I backed into a fresh greenbelt with tall Douglas firs, cougars and bears, and a stream, I could still zip down the hill and be in downtown Bellevue in 15 minutes, Seattle in 25. When we moved here, we were assured that the area and roads would all be developed and completed within a few years. The entire area would just be suburbia! Ha! Then the bust hit. It's kind of refreshing in a lot of ways, but the city girl is definitely more of a farm girl now. Lots of dirt, cows, horses, mules, alfalfa, farm lanes -- you get the picture! In fact, you've SEEN the pictures!

We laugh about most of the rude adjustments now. I don't even notice construction noise, and I tune out the horns from the roach coaches that speed around the neighborhood peddling snacks to construction workers. I'm looking forward to exploring more of Arizona because there's so much natural beauty to take in! And maybe next summer, I'll take a trip back to Seattle and enjoy some of that cool weather and grilled salmon!


Sue said...

If I ever were to live anywhere in the US, it would be Arizona. Probably more down near Tucson, still within driving distance of the mountains and the Sedona area. Heck, I can even drive up to Flagstaff on the same day if I ever want to see snow in winter.

I love the look and feel of the southwest, and the material used in construction. Really such a pretty place to live - glad you have settled in and would do it again! That says it all. Like me - would I do it again? (move to Isla) - YES!

Chrissy y Keith said...

Moving from Juenau Alaska to Scottsdale Arizona, I have a few comments as well. I think I will Blog them when I have time. This week I am taking some continueing Education for my innactive Real Estate License. I hate study.

jeanie said...

LMAO about the hooters! Compared to you,Sue and Chrissy our move has been minor only 50km but a huge change all the same. We're coming up for a year in our new life and it's completely different than the old one. Living in a tiny beach town of 3002 is a learning experience. Everyone knows everyone, everyone smiles and says hello and there hasn't been a day that we haven't laughed hysterically mostly at ourselves.

Isla Deb said...

Great post, Beck. I've lived in Texas for a little more than five years now and I'll have to say there have been more than a few times when I've regretted moving here. Even though these Texans are so proud of their state, I still think it's so scrubby and drab...especially considering the pretty areas I've lived in other parts of the country. I can relate to some of your other points, the right-wing mentality, the heat and bad grammar. I CAN'T relate, however, to the fast drivers...everyone goes slow here (even in the fast lane). And if four cars come to a 4-way stop sign at the same time? You could take a nap waiting because everyone keeps waiting for the other guy to go. I always have a nagging in the back of my mind that I don't want to spend the rest of my life here. I guess we'll see.

Vee said...

Enjoyed this post, Beck. Another big advantage Phoenix has over Seattle - easier to get to Isla! Are you counting down?

Life's a Beach! said...

Sue, I think we'll definitely stay in Arizona, but might consider moving to a slightly higher elevation once Craig retires (and housing prices rebound).
Chrissy, it'll be interesting to hear your experience!
Jeannie, I think any move is disorienting, whether it's 50 miles or 5000. I noticed it was much tougher this time around than 20 years before when we moved to Seattle.
Deb, I think there are a lot of parallels between Texas and Arizona!
Vee, I'm starting to get excited! We NEED a vacation!