This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

How to be comfortable living in Phoenix, Arizona


If you've recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona, it may be a bit uncomfortable. Of course, the first thing you'll need to do is to make sure that you have good air conditioning, especially in your car. It gets insanely hot in Phoenix! But being comfortable living somewhere runs deeper than that. I see people who never seem to get comfortable in Phoenix, and I think that I can help.

I moved to Phoenix from Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I was 19. Aside from the first lesson (getting decent air conditioning), I tried to get comfortable with the Phoenix culture. And, by the way, if you've never lived anywhere except Phoenix, you really don't see a culture, it's just the way things are done. But to a midwestern boy on his own, it was all very different, and strange, and wonderful.

The first thing that I did was to eat some Mexican food. I had friends who took me to La Cucaracha, which was on 7th Street and Indian School. I know that I liked it right away, and I recall my friends laughing at me as I reached over and grabbed the nearest water I could find, even though my food wasn't all that spicy (for them!).

And that leads me into something that may make some people uncomfortable, that is, understanding a bit of the hispanic culture. One of the friends that I made at ASU had been born in Mexico, and I hung around with him a lot. I met his family, I visited his neighborhood. I had learned a little Spanish in High School, and I tried to use a bit of it, and I practice. I remember how delighted his dad was that I could talk to him in Spanish.

When I moved to California, I continued to seek out people who were locals. I wasn't ashamed of being from Minnesota, but I really didn't want to be one of those people who swam in the ocean in the winter (we California locals just called them all "Canadians").

Of course, what has happened to me over the years is that I am neither a real local in Phoenix, or Los Angeles, nor am I a true Minnesotan anymore. When I've visited Minneapolis to see old friends, I often felt as if I should have been wearing a serape, or a sombrero. I haven't been back there in years, but I wonder if you can now get any decent Mexican food there?

I became comfortable living in Phoenix, as I made it my own. I never suffered from homesickness, because Phoenix is my home, and hopefully always will be.

Image at the top of this post: Looking north over downtown Phoenix in the 1970s.


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