Historically, when I move somewhere new, it's a rough transition. The first week is new and scary and filled with homesickness: I miss the familiarity of old friends and family, the certainty of knowing the good grocery stores near me, the comfort of knowing all my possessions are in their place and not piled in boxes.
I was prepared to feel like that when we first arrived in Arizona. But the weird thing is, it never felt like that. It felt... like home. Right away. And every day since we moved, it has felt like this is the exact right place we need to be. Sam and I feel really good about why we're here and what we're doing. I'm assuming the magic of looking outside and seeing palm trees and cacti everywhere will wear off eventually, but for now, we can't get enough of our new place. Sometimes it scares me how smoothly the transition is going, and how much we love it here. Are we missing something? Or is it actually possible to move to a new place and fall in love immediately?
The longer version:
I feel like we need to talk about the weather first. The weather is the first thing anybody asks about, and for good reason. This is inarguably the worst time of the year in Arizona. It's 115 degrees some days, it's the middle of summer, and there are monsoons every week. However, although I complained pretty badly about the heat in this post - dare I say it hasn't been too bad?
The middle of summer in Arizona is like the middle of winter in a northern climate. You mostly stay inside. It's worth the extreme temperatures because the rest of the year has gorgeous temperate weather. And it's a super dry heat, which makes everything more manageable. I think I really will miss defined seasons though.
Our interior house temperature is set to 79. SEVENTY-NINE. This is how I know we're insane. 79 is so hot. But weirdly, it doesn't feel hot? It feels so nice to walk into a 79-degree home when the outside temperature is thirty degrees warmer. (To my Canada friends: You better still come visit after this post! We'll turn down the temperature just for you!)
We're learning how to survive in such a crazy hot place. When we go somewhere, we always look for a shade spot in the parking lot. The second week I moved in, I had the washer, the dryer, the dishwasher, and the oven going - all at the same time, when it was 116 out, at the warmest part of the afternoon. Rookie mistake! It was terrible! Now we do our laundry and run our dishwasher late at night or early in the morning to save on our already ridiculously expensive energy bill. I'm even starting to learn how to precook things in the morning so our house stays even cooler.
A side note to all my local friends: I have a problem! When I was house hunting, people would list "north/south exposure" as a selling point, alongside granite countertops or a garage. I didn't get why anyone would bother to list that - until now. Claire's room faces due west, and it gets SO HOT in there every afternoon. The poor girl wakes up drenched in sweat from every single afternoon nap. We keep her blinds closed constantly, and put her down in nothing but her diaper, but are there any special blinds that work well to block the heat?
So yes. It's hot here. But we're surviving. And there are awesome pools and splash pads everywhere.
People here drive fast fast fast. The highway speed limit is 65, but it feels like the minimum speed is 80. Lane changes take approximately 0.03 seconds, which freaks me out. But people are still courteous drivers. They use their blinkers, and if they see a merge sign, they merge right away. None of this sneaking up the lane and then nosing over at the last second nonsense.
Our city, Tempe, is such a mixed bag. There are definitely good parts of town and bad parts of town. I ran into a Walmart once to grab something with Claire, and within two minutes, I turned around and walked out. I legitimately did not feel like my daughter was safe in that place. It was terrible. (The next week, I saw four cop cars with their lights on surrounding the two entrances as I drove past. It mollified me and made me feel like I wasn't just being a paranoid white girl.) Now, if I have to go to Walmart for any reason, I happily drive five extra minutes to the good one in the really nice part of town.
I guess I never realized how much I missed living in a more diverse place. I just got called to Young Women's at church, and myself and one other leader were the only white people in the room on Sunday. It's awesome even to just walk the grocery store aisles or go to the pool and hear people talking in different languages. There's a huge foreign foods section in the grocery stores here that I can't wait to try out. The produce here is amazing too - cheap, fresh, and so good. We have the most delicious fresh fruit with every meal. It almost makes up for how truly terrible the water tastes here. ;)
Sam's MBA program is going really well. I tell ya, they really hit the ground running in that program! Even during orientation, he was wearing business casual or business professional every single day, and going in on weeekends, and pulling late nights, and doing huge group projects. What happened to name games and campus tours during orientation?! So we hardly ever see him, but he's really liking his program so far. I'm so darn proud of that kid.
Before I moved down here, I heard such great things about the blogging community. And I'm happy to report that it's all true. I've been so fortunate to make awesome blogging friends down here, and live in a place where everyone encourages others and shares their success, instead of hoarding and comparing their success with others. Not to mention, it's nice to live in a market that's not incredibly oversaturated with blogs like Utah is! (That being said, I really really miss my Utah blogging friends. And all my friends and family in Utah.)
*Speaking of the awesome blogging community down here, all these pictures were taken as part of a shoot-out with two of my new friends, Cathy and Stephanie. It was so fun to talk blogs and photography mentors and get lots of pretty pictures while I'm at it!
I guess the bottom line is that we feel like the middle of this crazy hot desert, a place where only insane people voluntarily move to, is right where we're supposed to be, and that we're doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing. It's been a long while since I felt like that (since my last day of being a full-time teacher, if I'm being honest), and it feels so good to feel so good about everything.
Yesterday, we were driving to church, and I saw a huge cactus in someone's yard.
"Sam!" I said. "Did you see that? Look how big that cactus is!"
"Cool," said Sam. So much flare and charisma.
"No seriously, look in your rear view mirror! It's gigantic!"
He glanced in the mirror. "Oh yeah, that is cool."
"When you graduate and we buy a home here, let's put a huge cactus like that in our yard."
"Deal," he said. And then we kind of looked at each other. Did we really just go there? Did we really just casually assume that we love it so much we'll stay here forever?
Who knows where we'll be or what we'll be doing a few years from now. All we know is that right now, this is the place for us, and we couldn't be happier. Unless the water started tasting good. :)