I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Tucson? Where the heck was that? I literally didn’t even know how to pronounce it. “Tuck-son”, I thought. Rewind a year earlier and I had been to the desert before. I boarded a plane and flew across the country to a place that may as well have been in a a far away land and when I landed it seemed as if I did actually land in a foreign place. Trees looked different, grass was non existent, mountains looming on the horizon. The people were different too. After a few visits, and some major circumstance changes, fate brought be to Tucson. I met a skinny boy in his tall white jeep. He took me around and showed me his city- the cactus, the palm trees, Mt. Lemmon- and the rest is history. Our history. The beginning of our journey together, now 15 years in the making. Fast forward all those years and you’ll find me in a half empty house with three sleeping babies. A house that we have lived in for almost 9 years, an entire lifetime for my kids. The house we bought when we were young with one small baby and two more to come later. The house were we celebrated countless birthdays, first and last days of school; also the house where we experienced the worst kind of news people can get. 9 years. In these 9 years we have grown from a small family to the perfect sized one for us. Nine Christmas trees, nine Thanksgiving turkeys, and more Easter eggs and baskets than I can count. First days home from the hospital, first steps, sleepless nights, temper tantrums, a zillion dirty diapers. Three babies grew up in this house to become three pretty amazing kids. We had a new puppy, watched fireworks from the roof, and painted rooms. We’ve made many friends and lost some too. All of it, in this house, in this city. Memories that I will hold so fondly in my heart forever. I will forever cherish the few friends I have made here and the countless ones my kids have made. I’ll miss my year ’round flip flops, monsoon rains, swapping butter and medicine in the night in the street. I’ll miss the teachers that have loved my babies and helped have a part in shaping them into the people they are today. I’ll miss the only school they have ever known. I’ll miss our neighborhood squad- all of our laughs, margaritas in the street, our babies playing together- but I have faith that we will find all of that again.
Life is really one big chapter book- with chapters that fly by and ones that seem to drag on. Chapters that are filled with happy passages and ones that are filled with times of darkness and sadness. Our time in Arizona is one chapter in our life, the one that is one it’s very last paragraph on the last page. People that don’t know me very well claim to say that I “hate” it here. These people couldn’t be further from knowing me at all (which is why I can really count the people that I can call friends here on one hand). Arizona to me symbolizes a series of chapters in my life that are filled with both the happiest and the saddest times. On one side of the coin I remember a beautiful wedding and the birth of the three most important people in my life, but on the other is 15 years without my family, 9 years my kids didn’t have their aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s the place where I lost all of that time with my Mom, time that I can never, ever make up. It reminds me of a place where I always, always felt like an outsider looking in. Like one of my most favorite quotes from The Great Gatsby says “I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” I never felt like I was home. If I traveled and people asked where I was from, Arizona was never my answer- and that wasn’t out of hate, even though I’d be lying if I said that during certain times in my life here that thought hadn’t surged throughout my body from time to time, but it was just that a large part of my heart wasn’t here.
Preparing for our move, I have realized that even though most of my heart was always someplace else, a small part of my heart with stay here. The part that graduated from college, got her first teaching job, was married and had our three perfect babies, and the part that met that handful of friends that actually understand ME. That small but mighty part of my heart will remain here. As we pack our car and drive away from here, I will be forever grateful to Arizona for giving me the most hardworking and amazing husband a gal could ask for and for my three little peas. Thank you for the sunsets, the cactus, the rare snow covered mountains, and the monsoon rains. Most importantly thank you for reminding me to be always be independent, fierce and to always stay true to myself. Most people here couldn’t understand me, and I get that, It’s hard for an Arizona girl to understand a Massachusetts girl, just like it’s hard for a Massachusetts girl to understand that Arizona girl. So as we say our good byes, please know I will forever hold this place close to my heart for all that happened here and for how vastly different my life is now than it was that April in the year 2000 when I first step foot in this foreign city.
So as we turn the last page of this chapter, we are anxious and so very excited to be entering the next phase and time in our life. A chapter that will have us in our forever home surrounded by beautiful trees, grass and seasons. A place that my kids will live in for the rest of their lives and hopefully make more life long friends that will go to elementary school, junior high and high school. A place where they will experience their first snow day and learn how to ice skate and how to craft the perfect snowball. A place that’s closer to my family, the ocean and a whole new world of opportunities. So, roll the credits and cut the film. End scene, end of chapter. We are moving on. Thanks for the good times, Arizona. It’s been real.