Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I shouldn't have written yesterday's post. If I did insist on writing it, I should have left it at the first and last lines:

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.


Joana said...

I understand completely Bridget. I had a very similar experience when we lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. I had two small babies, my husband was working and traveling a lot for his work, I had no family and friends there and felt very overwhelmed.

Then, my oldest (she was 2 at the time) was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder, and since my Mom was still working, my retired Stepdad would come and stay for a week here and there to help me out. It was during that time that my Stepdad suddenly passed away and I was left reeling.

My point is, when I talk about my disdain for Corpus, I guess I am really talking about my disdain for that period in my life, if that makes any sense.

Liz Johnson said...

To be honest, I thought your last post was very loving towards your former home. I just thought you were trying to show that there are a lot of issues at play, and that Tucson often gets a bad reputation because of those things.

That said, I get it. Some places just aren't good fits for us, especially during certain times of life. I hated Provo, but loved the friends I made there and would be very sad if something like this shooting happened there.

Sarah Familia said...

I understand too, Bridget. I think this is partially a result of moving a lot. When you mark time in your life by moves, it is really easy to associate feelings and events in your life with the place where you were living at the time. My memories of incessant rain in Washington State are real, but the emotions that I attach to those memories have a lot more to do with the things that were going on in my life at the time.

We spent this spring in Florence, Italy, which I know is a beautiful city that I'm sure I would love to visit under better circumstances. But all I can think of when I picture Florence is the nightmare my husband's job was, my very slow recovery from a serious illness, and just walking along the Arno River in the rain, crying because I was so overwhelmed with life. I have no desire to go back to Florence, ever. Which is sad. I guess I need to stop moving to nice places until all my problems are solved :)

Amanda said...

I don't know what people said in the comments from yesterday, but I felt your meaning perfectly. People ask me all the time if I like Tucson, and I never know what to say. Like you, I'm at a tough point in my life what with three kids under five, and it's hard to separate that from a city that is also very conflicted and struggling. Plus the long, long, long summers.

I'm also very very grateful for Janae's group. I've tried at various times to get another group going, and it's never worked out.

Natchel said...

I understood you perfectly. Some people can be too sensitive about things. I think you wrote your post very well, showing the background behind Tucson's social civil war we are involved in. Kudos Bridget.
This second time around living here, I'm liking it a lot more actually. That doesn't mean I love it. I'm enjoying it more however. It's actually more fun living here now that I have Gabe. Play dates, the zoo, playing in the backyard (in the evening). I think a number of factors play into people's opinions. Ward, neighborhood, owning a car, owning a car with AC... :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

As you can see from the comments, your post wasn't misunderstood. Tucson's close proximity to a very troubled country causes unique problems. The weather is what it is. And there are crazy people everywhere, so I don't think the shooting happened in Tucson because it is Tucson. It's a gorgeous place w/ fascinating character.

I do believe your relationship w/ Tucson is related to your situation while living there; judging from the comments that's not an unusual phenomenon.

Brittany Cornett said...

Bridget I understand and I dont think you should feel like you cant express yourself. I find your tucson posts humerous as I have resigned to living here for the rest of my life, since we are happy here. There are things I could do without here including long summers but usually that is just a good time to take a vacation.
I have been pretty emotional for a couple days since everything in this accident hits so close to home literally not being more than a mile from my home. The 9 year old girl that got caught in the cross fire has really shaken me. Did you know she was born on 9/11? My Grandmother knew the elderly couple that got shot and apparently they had quite a love story. I feel bad for Jared's parents who apparently havent left their house since the accident.
I guess I am sort of confused myself on was this caused by the political problems we have in Arizona and I despise John Kyl saying that it could happen anywhere and there really isnt anything we can do about it. Shouldnt all the politicians from this state be rethinking things here? I hate Jan Brewer's law. I wish we could just give a blanket citizenship to anyone who wants to work here and pay for there own health insurance (and isnt a criminal). There really is some tough politics here and I wish there was more federel direction taking place here. I was hoping more that my comment would spark some talk about that.

Bridget said...

I am so grateful to read these stories of understanding. I thought I was the only one who sometimes had trouble separating experiences from places.

Brittany, just so you know, this post was not a direct response to your comment yesterday. I received an email from a friend I will not out without her permission (hahahaha) that made me think that perhaps I was widely misunderstood. I'm so relieved to know that is not the case. I have an irrational fear of being misunderstood and I felt like I should do my best to set the record straight. Thanks as always for your comments.

Jen said...

You know, I'm going to add my "here here" to the comments that expressed understanding of your original intent.

I, personally, would have taken things further, still....most likely soliciting unsettled disagreements.

Kathy Haynie said...

The honesty in your writing gives me courage to write more honestly on my own blog. I often shy away from darker, more difficult topics because I have been misunderstood, by people I love dearly, in the past. Such a balancing act to figure out when and how to speak my mind. Kudos for "wrestling with the angel" in two different posts.

Anonymous said...

I really think it's true that some places just aren't good fits for some people. Jerusalem, of all places, was an awful fit for me, although I think some of my life circumstances at the time also played a role.

I think that for most of us who live in multiple locations in our lives, it's nearly impossible to love every place equally. One positive thing about living somewhere challenging is that it can make us better appreciate the places that are better fits for us.


The Ensign's said...

WHAT?!?!?! I made Bridget's blog!!! I feel sooooo important. Thanks! Well I'm glad that I could be a good memory of Tucson for you. Luckily, I have been able to replace the bad memories of Tucson with some great memories and friendships and I now actually REALLY like it here. Call me cRaZy!!
On a serious note..... we miss you guys here. I know you're happy to be gone, but Shay's missing her friend and I miss mine. (I'm sure Chad's missing Jeremy too!) So anytime you wanna give Tucson another chance let us know!

Susanne said...

I like the fact that your blog isn't all about rosy times as if nothing is ever bad in your life and places you live. I didn't think anything bad about your first post re: the Tucson shooting. I thought it was very thoughtful of you to weep for it openly on your blog.


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