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How I came home to Arizona twice, even though I wasn't born there

I like Arizona, it's my home. I wasn't born there, but I want to live there for the rest of my life. I like to describe the way that I felt when I first arrived as "coming home to a place I'd never been before". Everything just seemed to click for me, I even liked the heat (I came from Minnesota, and I just HATE being cold). I grew up with blue skies, and the skies in Arizona were just as blue.

I went away for a few years, seeking fame and fortune in California, which I never found, and I was never really comfortable there. I know that I tried, tried to laugh off the gridlocked traffic of Los Angeles, tried to feel at home there, but it never really worked. And then I got laid off from my job and decided to go visit some old friends in Phoenix. And I've often tried to describe the feeling, as if I were putting on an old jacket that just fit right. I got an apartment in Phoenix, went and got my stuff out of my apartment in LA (lost the deposit) and knew that Phoenix is where I wanted to be. If you ask me I will say that the cost of living was lower, and traffic was less, but really it was about the feeling, and I still have that feeling.

I've been lucky in Phoenix. I got a good corporate job downtown, at Valley Bank, got a girlfriend, and played a lot of golf. And I did something in Arizona that I knew that I would never be able to do in California, I bought a house - the one I'm in right now. I found a home.

But what really told me that I was home was the sound of a thunderstorm. I grew up with thunderstorms in Minneapolis, but they really don't get them in Southern California. So hearing one not long after I'd moved back to Phoenix was wonderful. Sometimes you gotta go away from somewhere to learn to really appreciate it. And I've become a real Arizonan, which you know you are when rain puts you in a good mood.

The photo at the top of this post was taken by a friend of mine who came to visit me from Minnesota in 1989. I had just moved back to Phoenix, and had a lot of time on my hands for several months while I was looking for a job. That's my old apartment complex, which was on a golf course at the time (El Caro). The apartments are still there, but the golf course is gone. I spent a lot of time playing golf, which I really couldn't do in California. I'm standing next to my old Mustang, which was black with a black leather interior (fine for Cali, awful for Phoenix!). And that's not a beer in my hand, it's a Coke. We were on our way to Sedona. I was back home (please excuse the Dodgers hat)!

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