In case you haven't noticed, hardly anyone that lives here is a Tucson Native. I kid you not. You can ask five different people where they are from and you will likely get the following answers: New York, Illinois, Michigan, and two other frozen over states that Satan will never step foot in. Just about everyone comes from somewhere else, and settles in here, ready to take on the hell hot summers like a champ. Because 106 degrees on a good day beats five below zero any day, right?
Then there are those of us who aren't from here, but were dragged here by our parents as some sort of gentle take on biblical punishment. Our parents did not believe in "Spare the rod, spoil the child," but they did fully buy into "and the meek shall inherit the earth," so this was their way of wearing us down. "Bring the children to the surface of the sun," they said. "Eventually they will be so weak from their futile attempts to leave, they will have everything their hearts desire!" they said. *Insert evil laugh*
I fall into that second category. Moved here with mom, from the coolest city in the world, New York, when I was 11. I cried when we left; she cried when we landed. Fitting. I had very little say in the matter (read: NONE), and I remember being shocked out of my mind that this desert of death with the silent "C" actually had grocery stores, stop lights, and BUSSES! But alas, it wasn't The Big Apple, and I tried like hell to go back home. I mean, I couldn't even get a slice of pizza here! What was this place that makes you buy an ENTIRE pizza pie just so you can eat ONE STINKIN' SLICE? Every summer I lobbied, albeit unsuccessfully, for a one way ticket back to my concrete paradise. Every. Damn. Summer. And then finally, I gave up. I admitted defeat. I couldn't have my pizza, but I did have my Eegee's, so I guessed that was better than nothing. Now don't get me wrong, it was no Mario's Italian Ice in a yellow cup with a wooden spoon and the syrupy, sugary bottom—but it was somethin'.
click to enlarge
via Google Images
Where mom and I first lived - Sahara Motel BEFORE they were "apartments"
I stayed in Tucson until I was 21, and then moved to Phoenix. That's what you do when you're itching to live anywhere but here, but you can't afford to live anywhere but here. I spent five years there, made a brief pit stop back in T-town for a year, and then tried my hand at being a southern girl. TEXAS. Four years. I made a beautiful human in Texas. I made some lifelong friends in Texas. And then I came back because TUCSON. It's a vacuum. It sucks you in. No matter how bad you want to leave it, no matter how many times you try to leave it, it says "Nope. Sorry kid. You're mine." And so you leave, and you come back. You leave, and you come back. You leave and get married, then you come back. You leave again. only to come back and have kids. Why? Because it's freaking Tucson. It's the pink and purple and blood orange sunsets. It's the coyotes howling in the wash at 1 am. It's the creosote that drives your allergies crazy but smells amazing during the monsoon rains. It's the kalichi that strangles everything but cactus, so you have a beautiful xeriscape backyard. It's the urban farming and the friends with chickens and the friends with goats and the friends with medical marijuana cards Cards Against Humanity. It's the nag champa that wafts out of Hippie Gypsy on 4th Ave, and the bass pumping house music from the other end of the block at IBT's. It's I Stand With Rosa and Black Lives Matter and No DAPL and Marriage Equality. It's Dia de Los Muertos, Mermaid Festival, and guys on glow in the dark bikes blasting "Jungle Boogie" on random Tuesday nights.
And well. because it's freakin' Tucson. And after all these years, and all that back and forth...well...you kind of love it here. Just like me.
Like my little Love Letter To Tucson? Want to write one of your own? Join me and the creator of "Love Letters To Tucson", Rachel Miller, for Analog Hour with Tap & Bottle and Exo Roast Coffee. Sunday, Sept. 18, noon at Exo Roast Coffee, 403 N. 6th Ave. There will be some reading of past letters submitted and a chance for you to write your very own.