Living in the Valley of the Sun: Pros and Cons
I’ve lived in Arizona nearly two months, which is crazy. Time moved excruciatingly slow when I was waiting for moving day and, now that I’m here, the days seem to fly by.
Two months, I figured, was enough time for me to compile a little pro/con list about my time in the Copper State. And, because I’m a bit of a pessimist, I thought I would start with the cons first.
The heat: Listen, I’m not an idiot. I knew Arizona was going to be hot. And, as much as everyone tried to assure me that it was a “dry heat”, I knew it was going to suck. Still, sometimes I’ll forget just how hot it is. I’ll walk out of my air-conditioned apartment and into the heat of the afternoon and it will literally take my breath away. It’s staggering, too, how many things the heat effects. I’ll burn myself on the interior of my car. My dog can’t walk on blacktop without doggie shoes. A jaunt around the corner to check my mail feels like hours of wandering the desert. And the locals tell me the hottest part of the year is still weeks away. Great.
The dust: This one did take me by surprise. I’d read up on Arizona, and I knew dust storms (sometimes called haboobs—yes, seriously) were a part of life. I saw pictures of dust storms rolling through towns and I thought it was cool. Fast forward to last week, when Phoenix was hit by daily dust storms. Every day, I’d get an alert on my phone warning me to stay inside. Before my move, I didn’t know that breathing in dust could result in an illness known as Valley Fever, a condition that dogs can contract, too. My husband was out of town, so I was confined to my apartment, only venturing out when the dust settled (ha). So, haboobs are decidedly not cool.
The landscape: Oh man, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of looking at this place. I still get a little thrill when I’m driving or riding in a car and I see a random cactus on the side of the road. I even love the Aztec designs that are incorporated into the overpasses and highways here. The air is just so clear (when not inundated with dust) and, at certain places in the city, you can see the mountains looming in the distance. We have mountains back home, of course, but these are so different. I even love the suburban areas—all the brown, southwestern homes. Even commercial buildings—shops, restaurants—mirror this architectural style. It sounds silly, but I love the cohesiveness of it.
Things to do: I remember feeling particularly silly when, during an Uber ride, I exclaimed to the driver, “I just love living beside a Target!” There was no way I could convey what I really meant in a short car ride. In Kentucky, I moved from a small town to a slightly larger town, and I’d been to virtually every restaurant and shop between the two. When my husband lived in Kentucky, it was drudgery trying to decide where we would eat and what we would do. Even if I live in Arizona the rest of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever manage to visit every establishment in the greater Phoenix area. The other day, in fact, I found out that there was a business near me that allowed you to throw axes for fun. (But you need six people to do it, which destroyed my plans.) No matter how you like to spend your free time, no matter what sort of food you prefer, no matter what your budget is, there’s always, always something to do.