Even the wind is different here. Back in the South, every breeze feels exactly like the last one - fighting the chains of relentless humidity just to BE. Here, every breeze feels like you're being hugged by someone you love wearing the softest shirt imaginable. I find it impossible to walk outside and not fall madly in love with this place each time.
Then there are the people here that I've grown to love and taken in as family. They're an amazing bunch, and almost every one of them is also from someplace else. Ohio, New York, Oregon, California, Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Canada, I could go on and on. Every single friend I have that isn't born and raised here says the same thing - they love it here and cannot imagine living anywhere else. We sit and relax and spend time together with the doors and windows open, and invariably one of us stops to point out the fact that we can look out from the living room and there are palm trees dancing in the breeze, and how amazing that is to us.
People don't yell here, and if you happen to see or hear it, it's shocking because it's such a rare thing. I was scared to death to make this move because it meant leaving behind all I ever knew, so imagine my surprise to now understand that such was necessary for us to have this life now, where every day is better than the last and Damien and I are more in love now than we were 10 years ago. We even look at each other like we did in the first months of dating, and I cannot even explain how fantastic that is, let me just tell you.
The price of being a Southerner and never getting the opportunity to travel out of your environs is that you wind up very insulated and your focus on life narrows so that you lose conception of things you would do well to see. I suppose that's true of anywhere, but I am a Southerner so that is the only basis for comparison I have to draw on. I have a lot of issues and a lot of baggage that has followed me around for 40 years now, and here I find the courage to chuck that shit in the dumpster and then pee all over it. It's the thing I think I've figured out the most about life now, life here, that enabled something possible that I never considered.
Once you trek out West and spend some time here, you find peace. You find your most authentic self. You look inward and can accept all that is in there, and it seems all at once manageable where it never did before. You find your missing bravery out here. I've told people that Damien and I have never been happier before, and I think it has a lot to do with accepting this place and letting it enfold us into its giant cosmic hug. We've had to look inward and really put ourselves before all else, relying on one another in ways we never have before and looking inward with a more deliberate eye, and in that process have learned more about one another - our family - our home - than we knew was possible. I don't think we were ever as affectionate with one another as we are now. He will kiss and let me hold him outside in public now, which is a big deal for anyone that knows him at all.
I totally get why the new age thing took out here, because this place does feel magical. That magic is very empowering. California is too much for me, New Mexico is too steeped in itself for me at this age, Texas is like looking through every apple in the bunch to find the one you'll eat, and who has time for that, and everything East of Texas I already know everything I'm ever going to need to know about life there. Everything North is just too goddamned cold for me, so that leaves Arizona as home base - where I feel my best, most authentic self.
I came to live in the Sonoran desert and found myself. I came here to start a new life, sight unseen, and loved it as soon as I caught the glow of Phoenix in the distant night sky driving up the 10 from Tucson on the final leg of the cross-country journey that brought us here. I felt like I belonged here immediately, and that has not changed since - not even once.
I came here and found peace, and so has every person we know that has come to visit us and every person we know that now makes a home here. My only wish is that my other loved ones had the resources to follow suit, because their REAL lives are waiting for them out here.