I attended a conference last week in Phoenix. Excellent professional development aside, it was a reminder on how much I dislike the city. Phoenix, this sprawling urban behemoth epitomizes what is difficult for me about urban life.
It wasn’t always like this; I used to think I was a city girl. I loved the excitement, the convenience of mass transit, the nightlife. The feeling of slipping on a beautiful dress, going out and being seen. The thrill of a nightclub bass that you can feel right down to your toes, drowning out your voice while you shout into the ear of an attractive stranger. The proximity to beautiful and interesting people.
I now live in the rougharoundtheedgessignificantlylessmetropolitainyetstillurban community of Tucson. I still love being able to bike wherever I need to go, to be able to eat Ethiopian, South Mexican, or Thai food on a Wednesday night if I feel like it. To work at a major academic medical center. But I don’t like the garish billboards, the chain stores, the traffic. Car exhaust choking my lungs. The push to be thinner, richer, more productive, mostly because someone will then be able to make more money off of you.
Being stuck at a stoplight, or in a traffic jam makes me die a little inside. To be fair, I’ve never lived outside of the city, so I really don’t have an equal point of comparison. But I do know that I love is being in the woods, in the mountains, in the desert, in the quiet. I love gazing at birds, hearing the canyon sigh in the afternoon breeze. It’s difficult for me to put into words the effect of being in nature. But its fundamental. It connects me to something far greater than myself. Its a living meditation and meaning and purpose and joy. It’s a little bit like discovering that I’m finally home, when I hadn’t even realized I had been away.
I also really love my job and suppose I will stay put in the city (if you call Tucson a city) for now. But I will always escape to the wild at every opportunity.