On Moving to Phoenix, Two Weeks Later

About two and a half weeks ago, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Here are my top five best things about the move, and top five worst things about the move.

Top Five Best Things About Moving to Phoenix:
1. I am not yet one of those people who raves about her job and tries to get everyone she knows to work at said job, but I am learning to love my job more and more each day. I laugh with my co-workers and with my students. I come home with great stories. Each day gets better.
2. Arizona does not abide by the laws of Daylight Saving Time, which means there will be no “Spring Ahead” anytime soon during which I “lose” a precious hour of sleep. This also means that even at six o’clock in the evening, the sun is still shining, which makes me happy.
3. Everyone is so friendly! I’ve lived most of my life (i.e. all but two three-month stints of working at camp) in California. It turns out that Californians aren’t all that nice. In Arizona, everyone is friendly and helpful, to the point that my California-bred self gets a little concerned that people are trying to trick me or lull me into complacency. Maybe that is the case, but so far, I think Arizonans are just friendlier than Californians.
4. Everyone drinks a ton of water because Phoenix is in the desert. Ever since I worked at a Boy Scout camp for the first time four years ago, I have become aware of how much water a human really needs each day. Throughout college, I was the weird girl who always carried a Nalgene with her everywhere she went, and whenever someone complained of a headache or started to get cranky I would snap, “Drink more water!” My roommate kept a tally of how many times I wandered into a room asking, “Where did I put my water bottle?” Finally, I live somewhere where everyone else is just as obsessed about drinking water as I am.
5. I can breathe! I never had legitimate respiratory issues in California, but here in Phoenix, even though it is still a large city, the air does not smell bad the way L.A. and Bakersfield air always did to me. Further, I can always see the mountains because there is no smog.
Bonus: Gas prices are so much lower in Arizona compared with the gas prices in California!

Top Five Worst Things About Moving to Phoenix:
1. I miss my friends, family, and church. Many of my closest friends still live in California. My mentor from college is still in California. The church I grew up in and the church I chose to attend while I lived in the L.A. area are both still in California, and I miss them a lot.
2. While the sun is still out at 6 pm, the world is still dark when I leave for work at 6:30 am and even when I arrive at work at 7 am, neither of which are conducive to me feeling awake and alert.
3. I have a 30-minute commute each way to work and back. While I do not have to sit in traffic because Phoenix is not L.A. and because I leave the city when everyone else is driving into the city and come back to the city when everyone else is leaving, the aforementioned commute still does a number on my gas budget.
4. When you move, stuff gets lost. In the last four and a half years, I have lived in two dorm rooms, a house, two apartments, a cabin, and two tents, not including the stints I came back to visit my family in Bakersfield. Not only have I lost or forgotten various things at any one of these locations, but I also have a very strange conception of “home” since it has meant nine places to me in four and a half years.
5. Arizona is not California. I am no longer 30 minutes from the beach. Culture does not seep from the being of this state. I am not two and a half hours from home where I can pop home for a weekend whenever I want. There are no Sequoias, Ponderosas, or oaks everywhere I look. Cactus provides little shade. It’s really not that big of a deal, especially since I am not too far from Flagstaff, but still . . . Arizona is not California, and as much as I was never a quintessential California girl . . . I am still a California girl at heart.

On Writing

In the last several months most of my processing has gone from writing to speaking. When I have something on my mind, there has almost always been a person around to share it with. When I have thoughts floating around in my head, they get spoken. I have noticed, though, that this phenomenon has caused several things to happen. I have become a worse writer. I have lost several of those valuable thoughts worth thinking about again. I have become less and less of a thoughtful role model that I urge my students to become.

So, I am going to continue to write. On blogs, in journals, on scraps of paper. I need to be writing because writing forces me to think and process, often when I do not want to. Writing helps me sit in the moment when I need to and move on when I need to. It is a skill, and art, and a form of therapy that I do not want to lose.

On becoming an adult

I’m starting to do adult-y things. I type on the computer without looking at my hands. I go grocery shopping every week and compare prices between brands. I always have a mental to-do list. I forget where I parked my car. I dress in business clothes to observe at a middle school twice a week. I get up before 7 every day of the week but Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. By 10:30 am, I’ve already worked 3 hours at my job. I go to bed before 11 every night without being told. Midnight is “too late” to go to bed.

When did all this happen?

Teacher girl

I’m slowly becoming a teacher. I read a story and think, “I wonder what a seventh grader would think of this?” I use examples of the students I taught throughout the day to help illustrate points. I refer to myself by “Miss” and my last name. 

When the members of my small group at church asked if I’d be there next week, I responded, “I don’t have consistency; I have seventh graders.” I write down the encouraging things that students tell me. I tell my roommates about funny encounters with preteens.

And I love it. I thought I wouldn’t, especially since I always said I wanted to teach high school. But I loved teaching today. I loved helped the English language learners and special needs students type out their story, even if one of the students thought I was lying to him about the existence of sentences. When one student wouldn’t let me leave, and would only work on his story when I was standing next to him, part of me was annoyed, but part of me was touched. 

I might actually love this teaching thing like I always hoped I would.

On community

At Biola, especially as the new freshmen arrive, everyone talks about “community.” But I am learning that community does not only apply to the people I see on a regular basis at Biola. Community includes my family, my church back home, my church in La Mirada, my friends from Philmont, my friends from high school, my roommates, my friends at work, and my friends in class. Recently, my summer working at Philmont Scout Ranch ended, and I had a week of transition before classes began at Biola. I switched from being immersed in the world of Philmont to being immersed in the world of Biola.

I’m thankful for both communities that I have been able to experience so far this year. I’m thankful for the people in both communities who “get” me. For Carsey who understands why I love the mountains. For Bethany who understands why I love books. For Robynne who understands why I want to teach. I’m thankful for the people in both communities who listen to me ramble and tell stories. I’m thankful for the people in both communities who enjoy my cooking. (It seems like such a small thing, but it means so much to me.)

In the Philmont community, there is a love of the outdoors, hard work, and doing things the hard way. We like to be tough, take chances, and venture outside our comfort zones. We like working for the Boy Scouts where we can be a small part of instilling values in teenage boys. We like seeing that smile on their faces when they finally get their tent up or blow up a clay pigeon for the first time or make a shotgun shell for the first time. We love being told that we made their day.

At Biola, it’s a completely different community. We love Jesus most of all. We like to learn. We work hard to pay for school. We love and respect our professors, and they love us back and practically adopt us. We venture into L.A. and learn to love the city. We all stare at the 30-foot mural of Jesus painted on the science building and realize how blessed we are to be at this school. We make jokes about hipsters, carry our Bibles everywhere, and go out for boba.

The two communities I have been most connected to this year are radically different, but I love them both. In both I have been able to genuinely live life with a wide variety of people and learn to love people I never thought I could. In both communities I have been challenged, but also found beautiful moments that I pull out when rough days come along. I have been shaped by both communities, which means they will always be a part of me, no matter what.