Month: December 2015

What I Miss & Don’t Miss About Arizona

Hello, blog world!

Initially, this post was supposed to be titled: “What I Will & Won’t Miss About Arizona” like, in future tense. Well, it turns out moving across the country is a very time-consuming thing, so I did not get a chance to write this blog before the move. Fortunately, now that I am here, I have a much clearer understanding of what I miss about Arizona. So, from Arizona to Boston, these are the things I miss the most, and the things I do not miss.

  1. Sunlight

Native Arizonans know little to nothing about daylight savings. I know, I know, everyone knows what it is, but unless they have lived somewhere that participates in saving daylight, they typically do not know what it is like to need to save daylight. For instance, I always knew that the rest of the country (and the world? I still don’t know much about it) had to change their clocks twice a year because the days become shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. However, I was unaware that the days were so short in Boston that I would start to crave that sunny weather I have had for 20 years in Arizona. Now I know why my boyfriend, a native Californian, has turned from a tan skin-tone to a light one in just one short year. I have lived here for 10 days, and I can only recall 2 days when the sun was out and about for the better part of the day. Every other day it has been cloudy, rainy, and dark outside after about 4-5 hours of “daylight”. This is a very strange thing for me, and I have learned that I am so accustomed to the sun, it is very difficult for me to be without it.

2. Warmth

Something that goes along with sunlight… warmth! Boston has very cold, sometimes very harsh winters. In Phoenix in 2015, the hottest temperature was 117 degrees on a summer day in August. I happened to be working outside that day, pushing carts and trying not to evaporate. This, though, is not the hottest day Phoenix has ever seen. When my mom was pregnant with my oldest brother, Lyle, in 1990, the temperature in Phoenix got up to a deadly 122 degrees. I guess you could say I am accustomed to the heat. In Boston, the wind is freezing and the nights are long, and I am assuming it is colder overall because of the lack of sunlight during the day. This has been an adjustment. You know those fuzzy socks that are always sold during the holidays? Well, my mother would buy those for me all the time when I lived in Arizona, and I would never wear them because my feet would always sweat profusely as a result. Now, I wear them every day in or out of the house. Warmth has escaped me. The upside, though, is that cuddling does not result in sweat and discomfort- in fact, it is an awesome way to keep warm with my loved one! ❤

3. Mexican Food

Here’s something all you east-coast people should understand about Mexican food: You can not find it this far from the Mexico border. Anything you think you have had that is “authentic”, it’s not. I may be white, but my grandfather owned a Mexican restaurant and my dad raised me in Mexican restaurants. Also, many of my friends growing up were (and still are) Hispanic or partially Hispanic. So, I got to eat authentic Mexican food in both restaurants and in my friends’ homes. Tamales, enchiladas, chilaquiles, and every other delicious Mexican dish you can think of. Also, Mexican candy. Mmm, I love those chili powder filled watermelon candies and Lucas… Granted, I was not fully immersed in this culture, but I sure do know what Mexican food is, and I am confident that the east coast does not have this delicious genre of food available in its’ original and unchanged form. If any west coast transplant who now lives in the east knows of a place, please let me know because I crave some indigestion.

4. Family, Friends, Familiarity

I have never, ever lived outside of Arizona. I have never lived further than one hour driving distance from my parents and my little sister. My friends and family have always been incredibly close, and now I am living 2,500 miles away from the people I have spent the most time with. I have spent significant amounts of time away from my family and friends, but moving across the country is a little more permanent than being away for three or four weeks, because it feels like the distance is impossible to cross. Being away from family is hard. There is no other way to put it. Friends, on the other hand, can be made anywhere you go, but since I am staying at home doing work and schoolwork, I have only met one girlfriend I really get along with and can hang out with. I miss my friends, but I will be making some here as soon as I start going out and doing things on my own, such as a job outside the house or a class or something. Familiarity, lastly, is also very hard to leave behind. I know the Arizona freeways. I know the streets there. I know where it’s safe to walk around, and where it’s not. I know where all of my favorite food places are, where my school is, where I can walk in a park and where I can hike… I have people in almost every corner of Arizona. I could drive to the west side, where my uncle lives, or south, to some friends in Tucson, or north, where I have some friends in Flagstaff. I can go almost anywhere in Arizona and feel welcome. I can go to Casa Grande or Florence and see someone I know every single time. Here in Boston, there are exactly 6 people whom I know, and three of them I only know as acquaintances. I am learning the city, but I spent 20 years in Arizona learning about the culture, the people, the places… all of it is familiar to me. It is my state. I am no longer in my state.

5. Other…

When struggling to come up with a fifth thing that I miss about Arizona, I wanted to talk about the culture, like what people wear, but some other things came to mind as well so I wanted to include them. I miss the landscape. The cacti, the dirt, the open, sunny skies. I miss the gun-toting people and the laid back atmosphere. I miss driving and seeing the sunset. I miss the tattoo culture, and I miss people wearing colors. Boston is a beautiful city, but the people wear all neutral colors that match the gloomy sky. There are many small things I miss, but there are also many things I do not miss at all.

Now, this post does not do Boston much justice. I will be writing another post about the things I absolutely love about Boston, but for now, I have to focus on Arizona and the things I do and do not miss. So, here are the things about Arizona that I am happy to live without…

1. The HEAT

Although the cold is terrifying for a native Arizonan, the sweltering heat in the summer is so difficult. In fact, I spent this summer working outside part-time, and it is definitely life-threatening to work outside in weather that is notorious for causing heat stroke and dehydration and overall prevention of outdoor fun-having. The heat is horrible. On top of the working outside, I also did not have working air conditioning in my car, so I spent the summer sweating and dying while driving an hour to visit family or driving 20 minutes to work or school or wherever I wanted to go. People always say, “Oh it’s a dry heat! It’s not that bad.” You know who says that? People who go from their air-conditioned houses, to their air-conditioned cars, to their air-conditioned jobs, and back again. They spend very little time outside, and very little time actually experiencing the heat. So, sorry guys, until you have felt the burn of the Arizona summer while working outside or driving in a car with leather seats, you won’t understand why this is something I do not have a fondness for.

2. Poor education

This is something that many Arizonans might be offended by, but you know what? I have a say in this, because I have spent 16 years in Arizona schools. My elementary school teachers ordered me to “not work too fast” on my schoolwork (because I finished it quickly) and I was even told once that I “couldn’t be good at everything”. I was a victim of racial bullying and discrimination, and I hated school so much I graduated a year early to get out of it. Curriculum was way too slow, and had to fall further behind to help out the children who did not understand, which also meant the kids at a higher level would not only have to wait to learn more, they had to tutor their peers who did not understand the material. Although that is a valuable experience, it does not make up for a student not being able to move forward in their education because other students were below the current grade level. I was cheated out of a good education because of where I lived. Now, as an English major, I am constantly being asked why I never read any of the classics, and as a 20-year old high school and almost college graduate, I never learned so many of the things that my peers know, and often times myself and other students were not given the chance to learn and grow above the average expectations for us. This poor education system, often times, causes issues with the young population, causing them to make poor choices because they don’t feel like they are smart enough or that they have options when it comes to their futures. With those poor choices, neighborhoods change, including the neighborhood I just moved out of…

3. Lack of Safety

Now, I am not saying that ALL of Arizona is unsafe, because that is absolutely not the case. Where I lived, in Mesa, it was definitely unsafe. Drug dealers were my neighbors, and there were two gun incidents in my apartment complex alone in the span of a year. I’ve heard gunshots, been followed home, and made many sprints from my front door to my car or vice versa at night time when I was worried about being mugged. I NEVER could walk at night alone, and I was consistently worried about my house getting broken into or something like that. In Boston, I can go out alone at any time and not worry about not being safe. I love that. It is so freeing and makes me so much more confident about getting out and experiencing life. I feel super safe here in Boston, and that is something I value highly. I do not miss the uncertainty of my safety in Arizona.

4. Idiotic Drivers

Okay, let me just start with my frustration over the requirements that are set up for kids and adults who want a license. Where I took my driving test, it was so easy to pass and receive a license. My driving instructor, during my one-on-one driving exam/practice had us go through the drive thru at Sonic to grab a bite to eat. What?  On another note, licenses in Arizona do not expire for 50 years. 50 years. Are they serious? I know people hate the DMV, but that is no excuse to allow incompetent people to obtain a driver’s license and keep it for 50 years, regardless of the possible mental illnesses or other things they might develop during that time that could inhibit their driving. I believe it is for this reason that the roads in Arizona are so full of idiotic drivers- people are allowed to drive at a super young age, with minimal requirements, and then remain unchecked for 50 years. Granted, they have to go in and get a new photo taken every 12 years, but that has nothing to do with driving skills or a lack thereof. I guess the budget just isn’t big enough to make sure people are not driving like maniacs five years after their license is printed. Or even 10 years. Or 15. Maybe they weighed the costs against the amount of money spent on ticketing, cleaning up after accidents, and hit and run or drunk driving murders that the courts and the state have to deal with. Who knows? Either way, Arizona is lacking in this area and it makes me feel super unsafe on the road. In fact, for the past 6 months, I was missing my passenger rear view mirror and I still never got close to being in an accident because I always checked my blind spots and drove carefully.

5. Long Distance Relationship

Let me just start by saying, if you have EVER been in a long distance relationship, you know that time zones, months apart, lack of kisses and hugs, and overall stress from being away from your love is one of the most difficult things you could ever experience. Arizona kept me away from my Dylan, and that was so hard. We spent nine months apart, and I could not move to Boston sooner because Arizona State University only offers most of my degree’s core classes in-person. Nine months, regardless of how many times or for how long you visit a person, is THE MOST difficult thing you could ever do in a relationship. For people who are meant to be together, though, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. People who can not spend one minute apart from the love of their life without fighting are just not patient enough, and the Bible describes patience as the first attribute of real love. For 9 months, I had to go to work, school, the grocery store, to eat food, to do everything knowing I wanted to be somewhere else. I was displaced and felt like I was torn in half for 9 entire months. I spent many hours on the phone and on Skype with my boyfriend, and together we pulled through and thrived through 9 months of long distance. But, if any of you have experienced this, you will know that only the strongest, most genuine relationships can love each other from 2,500 miles away because it is necessary to wait. With that being said, I could NEVER choose to be away from my love- the only reason we had to be apart was because we met while I was still committed to my program at ASU, which I will now be completing online for the next five months. It all has worked out beautifully, but wow were those 9 months difficult.

So, folks, those are the 10 things I miss and do not miss most about Arizona. I will write another post about the things I absolutely love about Boston, and the things I have grown to love since being here. Thank you all for reading and have a blessed Christmas!