In case you didn't know this about me...I've been a bit of a nomad these last few years. In 4 years I've lived in 4 cities (I had a speed dial button for U-Haul); but I've had at least 9 different mailing addresses. Seriously. There are probably Christmas cards from December 2006 still trying to find their way to me. I can't even vote any longer...the center for Voter Registration for the entire Western United States finally just emailed me and said they've removed me from the roster - that it's not in their budget to keep printing and mailing me a new voter registration card for each address change I submit.
But no matter how many boxes I pack or unpack, I will always have my hometown.
I was born and lived in Tucson, Arizona for 34 years. It's where I grew up, went to school, bought (and sold) my first house, got my first job, got fired from my 4th job, learned how to ride a bike, drive a car, and drive my mother crazy. I know where to get the best BLT in the world (Daggwood's), where the classiest dive bars are (Cowpony, Golden Nugget, API...what side of town do you want to be on?), the best place to get away from it all (Gadabout at River and Campbell), and I know the side streets to take in order to escape traffic (I draw the line there...I can't give up ALL of my secrets). It's where my family lives, where I can find some of my closest friends, and where I never feel out of place.
Tucson is an amazing city - the desert, the mountains; it's a small, intimate town filled with 900,000 of your closest friends. On the other hand, there are only three seasons (summer, not summer and college basketball), it can be a tough outdoor type of town (especially when the not-so-occasional 105 degree day pops up), and there's no ocean nearby (yeah, I know...that whole "desert" thing). But no matter how much time lapses between visits, there remains an amazing sense of familiarity I feel as soon as I'm within 25 miles of the city limits. I can feel the smile automatically come to my face when I look out the window of the airplane and watch as the desert landscape slowly turn residential, or when I see the Catalina Mountains draw closer as I zoom eastbound on I-10.
Inevitably there comes a moment in my visit where I find myself idly pondering the the idea of moving back. Could I live in the desert again? I'd be close to the family - nearer to my friends. But almost as soon as the thought appears, I realize Tucson has its place in my life - but it's not as a permanent residence any longer. Because for as much as I love my visits to The Old Pueblo, there is also something to be said for getting back on that airplane, or driving west on I-10 back to my home in Los Angeles. I love eating at all of my Tucson Originals restaurants...but I start to miss the quirks of my own kitchen, sangria at M Street Kitchen and donuts from Randy's. Being able to see all of the stars in the sky at night, or the city lights from the foothills is wonderful - but I really do have a hard time falling asleep without the sound of 9 squad cars, 3 fire trucks and a helicopter randomly zooming past my apartment. And I won't make any comment about the change in climate from Arizona to So Cal...all I'll say is that I need to put on a sweatshirt when I walked out of LAX, even in June.
I think that no matter where you're from or where you end up, your hometown always holds a special place in your heart; but home is wherever you are...and that it's important to make the most of where that is. Even for a nomad like myself. I may not have 34 years experience in So Cal, but I'm already well into year 4...so it's slowly starting to catch up.
Meanwhile, there are always flights daily to Arizona if I get a little homesick or find myself in desperate need of an amazing BLT.