As I captioned the above photo on Instagram, things are always changing in Tucson, but also remaining exactly the same.
I spent 24 years of my life living in the same city. I was born there, went to school there, fell in love there, made friends there, lost friends there, had loved ones be born there and die there. And when I moved away I had no idea what it would feel like to come back home.
When I’m in Tucson I’m bombarded by familiar smells, sounds, and feelings. The air is different, the stars shine brighter, the birds chirp louder. In the summer there’s the smell of creosote and the sound of cicadas. The fall starts off warm, but a coolness eventually rolls in. The winters are chilly and dark and there’s something wonderful about feeling cold in the desert. In the spring the Texas Rangers bloom with bright purple flowers and the smell of sunscreen fills the air as people flock outside before it gets too hot again. While I wouldn’t trade living in Los Angeles for anywhere right now, I’ll admit, there’s still no place like home.
Tucson is so deeply a part of who I am today. My political views, my closest friends, and my favorite music are all facets of myself that I owe, in part, to the city that made me. So when I go home I’m reminded of who I was and how I became who I am. But being transported to a different time in my life also has its downsides.
When I come home I’m reminded of what I didn’t like about Tucson too. The city can sometimes feel small and stifling. Polarizing. Uneasy. There’s only so much I can keep doing over and over again. Driving down the same streets to go to the same stores, same parks, same bars, same restaurants. But there’s a sense of comfort in that sameness too, which is why I’m so grateful that I can come home as often as I do.
I’ll be in Tucson again this week to help my sister move back from Los Angeles. As sad as I am to see her go, I understand that Tucson’s a difficult place to leave and not return to.