For all I didn't like living there so much, I am saddened to see Tucson in the national spotlight for such unsavory reasons.
Much-maligned [by me, on this blog] former home, I weep [sad, sympathetic tears] for you.
The message I meant to send is that there is so much more going on in Tucson than a supposed return to "the Wild West" or whatever the news is calling it. There are other issues at work, so deep-seated and complex that they cannot be reduced to being symbolized entirely and solely by a crazy person shooting a politician in a grocery store parking lot. The laundry list of issues I mentioned in my previous post (and the NYT article I linked to, "Shooting casts a harsh spotlight on Arizona's unique politics") was meant to illustrate that, not serve as further punches to a city that is already reeling from a massive blow. Not at all.
Perhaps the reason I could be so easily misunderstood is because I am on the record as someone who doesn't like Tucson. I didn't know how apparently outspoken I was on this subject until a couple of people brought it to my attention.
The thing is, blogs paint a picture. Of ourselves, of our families, of our opinions and values, our likes and dislikes. But it can never be a complete one. I try to be honest and put a complete picture out there, via my blog. What I didn't realize is that while many of Tucson's lowest moments made this blog, the little, positive things often slipped through the cracks. Who wants to read about a beautiful view of the Catalinas on my morning run when I can write an impassioned post about my struggle with Reverse SAD, or, more tritely, the sand that was always getting in my house? In my struggle to avoid being one of those blogs where everything is perfect and life is always good, I think I swung a little too far in the other direction, at least as far as Tucson goes.
But let me defend myself a little. As hard as it may be for you to believe, considering how bright and sunny Tucson is, the four years we spent there were often dark days for me. In August of 2005, we moved from overseas to Tucson, a place I'd never seen before in my entire life. We moved there not because we wanted to be in Tucson or even because we had a choice among several cities and Tucson was our favorite - it was where the best program for Jeremy's field was, so we went. Just like that.
Then I became a mother, which was terrifying and overwhelming for me. I was tired all the time and still adjusting to what felt like a foreign country, after Syria. The first place we lived in Tucson was in a bad part of town where every night we hoped and prayed that our car wouldn't be the one to get broken into that night. After a few months, we put our savings into buying a very modest townhome in a better part of town (and then, after four years, saw that money vanish into nowhere when we tried to sell).
I became a mother for the second time and it was still terrifying and overwhelming.
I don't make friends easily and at times it seemed like everyone but me had a group they belonged to, or family across town. I was socially awkward and always pregnant or nursing and my husband was largely AWOL due to his doctoral studies and I knew that if we could just make it out of Tucson together, as a family, then things would be better.
I know that almost none of the above is Tucson's fault. But I can't separate the two. At least I couldn't, not for a long time. I have only recently been able to think about some of those dark days and realize that it wasn't all bad, not by a long shot. Slowly, slowly, I find I can look back with genuine fondness on hiking in the desert, running on the Rillito path, exploring Biosphere, taking in the view from Picacho Peak, and enjoying the wide open skies of the expansive desert. And despite my social awkwardness, after a year or two I ended up making very good friends (God bless Janae and her Friday morning games group) who I miss very much.
But in the end, you know what? Tucson was not for me. I'm sorry I couldn't love it. In fact, no one is sorrier that I couldn't love it than me, during the four years we lived there.
But that doesn't mean I can't feel sympathy for it when times are bad, as they are now.
I am genuinely saddened to see Tucson being written off as some sort of freak show hotbed of irrational, violent politics.
My former home, I weep for you.
That's all I meant to say in my blog post yesterday.
Thanks for giving me another chance.