Tag Archives: urban

where I lived

I used to live in a track home outside of town, on land freshly poached from the desert. Like a number of choices made at age 24, it isn’t a decision I would repeat; this was life in the country without the benefits of country life. There were the long commutes, the automotive expenses, the 15 miles to the grocery store. My bedroom window stared into my neighbors’.  I had a tiny yard that was mostly composed of a pile of rocks.  In a desperate move to beautify I tried to grow succulents on the rock pile, but the succulents would inevitably die off, exposing the truth that, no, there’s no rock garden here, only an eyesore.

I moved to that house having only lived in a very urban environment.  At first it seemed strange, but I grew to love both the silence and the sounds. The coyotes would sing at night over the howling wind. I would run in the darkness of the early morning with the milky way shining down upon me and hear owls flapping their wings as they hunted their prey. Hoo, hoo.  

I now live in a central part of the city, and the constant, bustling noise grates on my nerves.  I run on asphalt with no owls in sight, only pigeons. I appreciate being able to bike to work, to walk to a grocery store, but I seek out quiet corners of the city in which to recharge. I miss the roadrunners, the quail, the hawks soaring ahead.  I miss the forests of ocotillo, reaching towards looming mountains above. My happiest moments are when I’m outside of the city limits, on a hill overlooking the twinkling lights, or camping in a forest somewhere.

Turns out I’m a bit of a country girl, afterall.

escape artist

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.