I moved to Phoenix when I was 19, just because I had a car and I knew how to read a map. I was looking for something different, especially a place that didn't snow (I grew up in Minneapolis), and I was immediately frightened and lonely. I wrote back home to my parents, and my friends all of the time (always including a cartoon!) but it wasn't enough. I needed people.
People in Phoenix are weird. Some of them are a lot like the people I knew in Minneapolis but some were so strangely exotic that I could hardly believe it. Some of them spoke a strange language, and ate things called "tacos". And I very quickly got over my fear and turned everyone I met into everyday people. I started becoming comfortable around people in Phoenix because they really were the same that I knew in Minneapolis - they had families, they drove the same cars (really, this was a surprise to me!), they were brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers. Some people had very dark skin (I'm talking about white people here) caused by the rays of the sun "tanning" it (remember that I'm from Minnesota). And then it got much worse for me, I moved to LA.
LA was a world of opportunities for me. Southern California seemed like such a magical place, and it is. But the people there are VERY strange. I lived there in the eighties, and people, like, dude, talked like, dude, in a strange way. Dude. The surfer dudes said "gnarly!" and the Valley girls said, "totally!" And everyone, like, drove everywhere. Nobody walked in LA. So making strange Californians into everyday people was quite a task for me, but I did it. I'm comfortable there, whether you're a big celebrity, or just one of "the little people" that are mentioned in speeches at the Oscars.
If you're confused, or maybe frightened, by people whose skin is a different color, or who wear different colors than you do, I understand. If you've been taught to hate people who look different from you, or who act differently from you, or follow a different team than you do, you have every reason to hide. It's a scary world you see, and I remember it. I see a different world, a world of everyday people.
Image at the top of this post: A cartoon poster that I did for Bank One Arizona in the 1990s.
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