I Love You Phoenix, But I’m Still Leaving.

I’ve been a desert rat for 34 of my 38 years, and for the majority of this time I have been trying to escape this place. 

I have been held hostage by promises of Springtime and wildflower season and the intoxicating scent of orangeblossoms blooming . Weighted by the gravity of  more than a few almost

perfectly compatible men,  and by childish assumptions that almost is enough.  I’ve been kept here by school, then by a job that people in my field are envious of , a place full of great minds and  abundant resources. We are the cream of the crop. I would have to be crazy to leave this, especially in this economy!  I have been anchored here by the safety net of  too many old  friends,  an honest VW mechanic who fixes my car on a drop in basis, and changes brake lights pro bono,  a Buddhist Chinese Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine practicing at the indoor swapmart ,  65 bucks for a “full treatment”, and he can always get me in on short notice, a yoga studio 0.7 miles from my house owned by one of those almost perfectly compatible men, who turned out to be a  completely perfect friend.  I have been lassoed to the trails of  North Mountain, Squaw Peak, and Camelback.  I met a man I thought I would marry on top of the Camel’s back,  and watched a man die on the Camel’s shoulders.   I have been exorcised of many demons, real and imagined while taking myself up your vertical backs.  But I have worn out my welcome.

I am tired of defending you to my friends from uber cool towns .  Friends from Seattle, Portland, NYC, Hollywood, San Francisco,  and Austin, have questioned my love for you, why do I stay?  I have sat in a favorite Mexican restaurant  nestled between two friends, one from NYC, and the other from San Francisco,  while they discuss  “The Phoenix Problem.”   “I just don’t think Phoenix has an IDENTITY,” says one, ” Yeah, like it’s trying to be something it’s not, trying to copy the other great cities.”  They mention the art scene and it’s goings on,  and talk about how far behind Phoenix is, doing what’s already been done in these other REAL CITIES.  I just chew my chip, heavy under the weight of some of the most delicious guacamole in the valley,  and I  stew.  I try to think of ways to describe how wonderful you are, I want to shout, “Shut up, you don’t even know her!,” and call them something really painful like “stupid dummy heads!” 

The truth is I complain about you too, how it’s at least a twenty minute drive to go anywhere worth going,  how the brown cloud that plagues our sky “never used to be there!”  How everyone here my age is now married up with kids,  living the big yawn.  Then there is Summer,  which I liken to labor and childbirth.  Hellish and painful, but then it’s over, and Fall and Spring ( the babies 🙂 ) are so amazing, you almost forget the 6 months of hell. Almost.  I could go on,  but your mine and I love you, and I see no need to throw stones.

I’m not just threatening this time, I’m really leaving.  My insides are rearranging themselves, preparing for my departure.  I find myself crying at hot pink sunsets, when I reach the top of a mountain , sweaty and smiling.  The sound of the curve billed thrasher’s “whit wheat” sends me into a  longing and missing mood , even though I’m still here.  I plan to stay through May.  I don’t want to leave on a sour note, I want our goodbye to be sweet, scented with wildflowers and orangeblossoms.  I will leave before you start to really piss me off, before you turn up the heat.  I am leaving you. I am leaving my hometown, and as I write these words my throat is being choked, and my eyes are filling up with salt.  I love you Phoenix, I miss you already.  xoxoox

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