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!